Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cowbakie Hill, enclosure 220m NNE of 12 Forgan Drive

A Scheduled Monument in Tay Bridgehead, Fife

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Latitude: 56.4163 / 56°24'58"N

Longitude: -2.9033 / 2°54'11"W

OS Eastings: 344367

OS Northings: 725268

OS Grid: NO443252

Mapcode National: GBR VM.LML1

Mapcode Global: WH7RK.CZQJ

Entry Name: Cowbakie Hill, enclosure 220m NNE of 12 Forgan Drive

Scheduled Date: 9 January 1998

Last Amended: 26 November 2015

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7096

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: enclosure (ritual or funerary)

Location: Leuchars

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Traditional County: Fife


The monument is a palisaded enclosure of prehistoric date (earlier than AD 400). The remains lie buried beneath the topsoil and are visible as cropmarks captured on oblique aerial photographs. The enclosure is sub-circular in shape, defined by a ditch that encloses an area measuring about 45m SW-NE by at least 30m transversely. The enclosing ditch is clearly visible on the SW, NW and NE sides but the extent of the enclosure to the SE is not known. A possible break in the NW side may indicate an entrance. Several pits lie within the interior of the enclosure: cremated human bone was recovered from one of these during archaeological evaluation. The monument lies to the S of Cowbakie Hill on a SE-facing slope, overlooked by rising ground to the N. It stands at around 20m above sea level.

A single evaluation trench dug across the western part of the enclosure in 1990-1991 showed that the enclosure ditch is 0.7m wide and 0.3m deep, with evidence for at least two phases of ditch-cutting. It also demonstrated the presence of pits in the enclosure interior; three small pits and two wide pits were identified, all containing high proportions of charcoal and wood ash. The human bone recovered from one of the smaller pits indicates that this site may have been a prehistoric cremation cemetery, either enclosed by the palisade trench or of a different date to the enclosure.

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 monument was first scheduled in 1998, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

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 prehistoric enclosures in eastern Scotland. The survival of a ditched enclosure with clear evidence for internal features is rare in its regional context. The monument is particularly unusual because there is potential for a development sequence encompassing prehistoric burial and settlement/agricultural activity. The cropmarks, complemented by trial excavation, demonstrate that the enclosure has high potential for complex archaeological remains, including cremation burials. Extensive archaeological fieldwork has revealed details of extensive prehistoric settlement in the immediate vicinity, with the evidence preserved in archaeological reports and archives. The importance of the monument is greatly enhanced by its association with the wider landscape of prehistoric settlement in this part of NE Fife, an important concentration of evidence for social and economic change in eastern Scotland between around 2000 BC and AD 1000. Our understanding of the distribution and character of prehistoric enclosures and funerary sites would be diminished if this monument was to be lost or damaged.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NO 42 NW 77.

Aerial Photographs used: RCAHMS (1988) A56965-A56966 NO42NW77; RCAHMS (1990) A72596/TR NO42NW77.


Archaeology Projects Glasgow, undat, 'Drumoig archaeological assessment statement', unpubl client rep, 25.

Driscoll, S T, 1991 'Cowbakie Hill and Craigie Hill (Leuchars parish): cropmark sites of domestic and funerary character', Discovery Excav Scot, 21-2

Halliday, S and Simpson, B, 1997 'Drumoig, Craigie Hill, Fife; Data structure report. Part Three: Forgan housing area and access road', GUARD unpubl rep 25.4.

Stronach, S, Sheridan, A, and Henderson, D, 2006 'A Bronze Age cremation cemetery at North Straiton, Fife', Tayside Fife Archaeol Jour 12, 1-13


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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