Ancient Monuments

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Monktonhall Junction, Neolithic cursus 150m north of Whitecraig

A Scheduled Monument in Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry, East Lothian

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Latitude: 55.9251 / 55°55'30"N

Longitude: -3.0415 / 3°2'29"W

OS Eastings: 335014

OS Northings: 670709

OS Grid: NT350707

Mapcode National: GBR 2G.ZLNJ

Mapcode Global: WH7V0.7BXM

Entry Name: Monktonhall Junction, Neolithic cursus 150m N of Whitecraig

Scheduled Date: 14 March 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13318

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cursus/bank barrow

Location: Inveresk

County: East Lothian

Electoral Ward: Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry

Traditional County: Midlothian


The monument consists of the remains of the SSW end of a ditch-defined cursus (a ritual and ceremonial monument resembling a sacred avenue), visible as cropmarks captured on oblique aerial photographs. The cursus occupies an area of relatively level ground immediately S of Inveresk at around 20m OD.

The cursus dates to the Neolithic period (between 4000 BC and 2000 BC). The total length of the cursus is around 910m, but this scheduling relates only to its SSW end, which is about 340m in length. The northern end of the cursus lies in a field to the N and is up to 520m long; it is scheduled separately. The cropmarks indicate that, unusually, the cursus comprises two pairs of substantial parallel linear ditches, aligned N-S and around 135m apart (a possible third ditch is visible along the W side of the cursus in the field to the N). This indicates that the ditches may have been re-dug and the cursus re-built at least twice in this location, which suggests the site may have been in use over a considerable period.

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 in eastern Scotland. The visible cropmarks indicate that this is part of an unusually large and complex, ditch-defined cursus, with high potential for the survival of important buried archaeology, including structural remains, ditches and pits, artefacts and ecofacts. The importance of this ditch-defined cursus is enhanced because it is one of the largest currently known in Scotland and is the widest so far recorded. In addition, the unusual double ditches along its sides (possibly triple along part of the W side) indicate that the site preserves a development sequence and was probably in use over a considerable period. There is also high potential to examine the spatial relationships between cursus monuments in the locality and the variations in their design and construction, which can develop our understanding of how and why these monuments were used. This monument has a particular capacity to inform debate on how major Neolithic ceremonial centres were remembered in later prehistory, how they affected the placing of later settlement, and how the use of the landscape changed through time. The loss or diminution of this monument would impede our ability to understand the cursus monuments of Scotland and their distinctive importance to Neolithic people.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NT37SE 49. The East Lothian Council Historic Environment Record reference is MEL81.


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.

Hanson, W S 2002, 'Amongst the field systems I: Monktonhall'. In Bishop, M C (ed) 2002, Roman Inveresk: Past, Present and Future, The Armatvra Press, 52-61.

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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