Ancient Monuments

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Balmaghie, enclosures 100m north west of Balmaghie Church

A Scheduled Monument in Dee and Glenkens, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 54.9756 / 54°58'32"N

Longitude: -3.9982 / 3°59'53"W

OS Eastings: 272200

OS Northings: 566379

OS Grid: NX722663

Mapcode National: GBR 0BJX.55

Mapcode Global: WH4VS.K69H

Entry Name: Balmaghie, enclosures 100m NW of Balmaghie Church

Scheduled Date: 29 September 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13540

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: enclosure; Secular: enclosure

Location: Balmaghie

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Dee and Glenkens

Traditional County: Kirkcudbrightshire


The monument comprises the remains of one or more large enclosures and associated archaeological remains likely to be early medieval in date. They are visible on oblique aerial photographs and survive as buried remains beneath the ploughsoil. Their presence, together with a range of other buried remains, has been confirmed by a combination of geophysical survey and limited archaeological excavation. The site is located at 50m above sea level in a field to the N and W of Balmaghie Parish Church, on the W shore and towards the S end of Loch Ken.

The buried remains include two substantial double-ditched linear features forming either one enclosure with two distinct phases, or two separate enclosures. The northern linear feature curves slightly and is aligned NW-SE; its inner ditch measures up to 2.5m wide, while the outer ditch is narrower. To the S is an angled linear feature, probably forming part of two sides of a second enclosure. The western length comprises a single ditch about 0.8m wide, with one possible entrance gap about 2m wide; the feature makes a notable angled turn to the ENE and appears to be double-ditched along its WSW-ENE side. Aerial photography, geophysical survey and limited archaeological excavation confirm that the site also contains a complex array of other features, including pits, further ditches, the remains of a probable timber building and related archaeological features and deposits. The site lies close to Balmaghie Church, which historical records suggest occupies the site of an early medieval ecclesiastical foundation belonging to the Priory of Iona.

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 the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, stone boundary walls, transmission poles and their anchor points.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to knowledge and understanding of the past, particularly the nature of Viking Age activity in SW Scotland and the Irish Sea area, and the use and re-use of early medieval enclosures and related features. The enclosures are large and impressive buried archaeological features, and may be associated with a documented early medieval ecclesiastical foundation in the vicinity of the present Balmaghie Church. The archaeological evidence to date suggests that the buried remains are well-preserved beneath the ploughsoil and may relate to an early medieval monastic and/or Hiberno-Norse settlement. The fills are likely to preserve important information about the date, form and construction of the various features, their relationship to each other and duration of use, and the nature of the activities which took place here. The site may also preserve palaeoenvironmental information which can enhance our understanding of the climate, vegetation and land use when it was in use. If this monument was to be lost or damaged, our understanding of the nature of Norse activity in SW Scotland would be diminished, together with our understanding of the character and significance of early medieval enclosures.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Other Information

RCAHMS records the monument as NX76NW 30. The aerial photographs of the enclosures are A63375-78 (1984).


Poller, T 2014, Balmaghie geophysical survey: data report. Unpubl rep for Historic Scotland.

Reid, H M B 1895, The kirk above Dee Water, Castle Douglas, 17-18.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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