Ancient Monuments

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Drylawhill, cursus and settlements 320m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in Dunbar and East Linton, East Lothian

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Latitude: 55.9923 / 55°59'32"N

Longitude: -2.6587 / 2°39'31"W

OS Eastings: 359004

OS Northings: 677901

OS Grid: NT590779

Mapcode National: GBR 2X.VGM4

Mapcode Global: WH8VY.4N62

Entry Name: Drylawhill, cursus and settlements 320m SE of

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1996

Last Amended: 13 December 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6379

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cursus/bank barrow

Location: Prestonkirk

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: Dunbar and East Linton

Traditional County: East Lothian


The monument comprises the remains of the western end of a ditch-defined cursus (a ritual monument resembling a sacred avenue) and at least two, superimposed, later prehistoric enclosed settlements, all visible as cropmarks captured on oblique aerial photographs. The cursus and settlements occupy an area of relatively level ground immediately S and SE of Drylawhill at around 20m OD.

The cursus dates to the Neolithic period (between 4000 BC and 2000 BC). The cropmarks indicate that it comprises a pair of substantial parallel linear ditches, aligned E-W and some 85m apart. The total length of the cursus may be over 1300m, but this scheduling relates only to its western end, which is about 580m in length. There is a 'gap' of 350m in the central section of the cursus, where the ditches are obscured by modern settlement and by another prehistoric settlement. The eastern end of the cursus lies in a field to the ENE and is up to 400m long; it is scheduled separately.

The enclosed settlements, which lie immediately N of this part of the cursus, date to the Iron Age (around 500 BC to 500 AD). The cropmarks indicate the superimposed remains of at least two phases of settlement: a larger rectilinear enclosure measuring about 65m ENE-WSW by 53m transversely, within a ditch up to 4m wide; and an oval enclosure in its interior, measuring about 40m by 30m within a ditch about 5m wide. The relative sequence of these two enclosures is not known.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes all post-and-wire fences, stone boundary walls and hedgerows for their upkeep and maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the study of cursus monuments and later prehistoric settlement in eastern Scotland. The cropmarks visible on aerial photographs indicate high potential for the survival of complex buried archaeology, including structural remains and artefacts and ecofacts, dating from different periods of prehistory. The monument's importance is enhanced because of the overall size of the ditch-defined cursus, which is the largest currently known in Scotland. There is potential to examine the spatial relationships between cursus monuments in the area and the variations in their design and construction, which may develop understanding of how and why these monuments were used. The monument has a particular capacity to inform the debate on how major Neolithic ceremonial centres were remembered and reused in later prehistory. The later prehistoric settlement appears to preserve a development sequence involving a significant change in its character (from rectilinear to circular, or vice versa), which adds to its importance. Overall, the monument has high potential to enhance our understanding of how the use of landscape changed through time. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the cursus monuments of Scotland and their distinctive importance to Neolithic people, as well as diminish our understanding of the nature and development of Iron Age settlement on the Lothian plain.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT57NE 29 and NT57NE 104. The East Lothian Council Historic Environment Record reference is MEL871.

The eastern end of the cursus, together with another complex Iron Age settlement, is scheduled as AMJ/9201/1/1 Preston Mains, Cursus and enclosure 135m S of.


Barclay G J and Maxwell G S 1998, The Cleaven Dyke And Littleour: Monuments In The Neolithic Of Tayside, Soc Antiq Scot Monog Ser 13.

Brophy K 1998, 'Cursus Monuments and Bank Barrows of Tayside and Fife'. In Barclay G J and Maxwell G S eds. 1998, The Cleaven Dyke And Littleour: Monuments In The Neolithic Of Tayside, Soc Antiq Scot Monog Ser 13, 92-108.

Brophy K 1999, 'The cursus monuments of Scotland'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, Pathways And Ceremonies: The Cursus Monument Of Britain And Ireland, Neo Stud Group 4, 119-129.

Harding J and Barclay A 1999, 'An introduction to the cursus monuments of Neolithic Britain and Ireland'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, Pathways And Ceremonies: The Cursus Monument Of Britain And Ireland, Neo Stud Group 4, 1-8.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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