Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric enclosure, Camp Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Dee and Glenkens, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 54.8508 / 54°51'2"N

Longitude: -4.1141 / 4°6'50"W

OS Eastings: 264365

OS Northings: 552711

OS Grid: NX643527

Mapcode National: GBR JH6W.Q5P

Mapcode Global: WH4W9.SB2N

Entry Name: Prehistoric enclosure, Camp Hill

Scheduled Date: 26 April 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13743

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Borgue

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Dee and Glenkens

Traditional County: Kirkcudbrightshire


The monument comprises the remains of a single-ditched, sub-oval enclosure visible as cropmarks in aerial photographs taken in the late 1970s. The defended enclosure probably dates to the Iron Age (500BC-500AD) and is a fort or enclosed settlement. Within the enclosure, there is a smaller and likely later, sub-rectangular enclosure, also visible as a cropmarked feature. The monument is located on the summit of Camp Hill, at 130m above sea level.

The prehistoric enclosure is sub-oval on plan and is defined on aerial photographs by a single, interrupted line of darker vegetation, indicating the presence of a broad ditch about 3m wide running around the north, south and west sides of the hill summit. The area enclosed measures 125m from north-northeast to south-southwest by 75m transversely. There are two breaks in the cropmark feature, indicating the location of entrances, in the southwest and northeast quadrants. The cropmarks of the eastern side of the enclosure are not visible on aerial photographs, however, archaeological deposits may survive in this half of the monument.

The inner cropmark feature is sub-rectangular on plan, located around the summit of the hill and appears to align with the projected eastern side of the outer enclosure. The inner feature measures around 50m from north-northeast to south-southwest by 40m transversely, within a ditch around 2m wide. There is a possible break in the feature for an entrance on the west side. This inner enclosure is likely to be a secondary feature, possibly very late Iron Age but more likely to be later in date based on the sub-rectangular plan form.

The scheduled area is irregular, extending 10 metres from the outer edges of enclosure remains visible on aerial images. It includes the remains described above and an area around 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 the triangulation point on the summit and all post-and-wire fencing

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a.   The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past as a probable multi-phase site dating from later prehistory, most likely the Iron Age, and possibly up to the medieval or later periods. It adds to our understanding of later prehistoric society in Scotland and the function, use and development of enclosures and other defended sites. The presence of the secondary, inner enclosure adds to the significance of the site, even with less certainty in its categorisation. 

b.  The monument is visible as cropmarks and is likely to retain buried structural and other physical attributes which makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past. Study of aerial images demonstrates that the plan of the monument is clear and understandable with features surviving as buried remains. There is also significant potential for the survival of buried archaeological deposits within the monument that are not visible as cropmarks. The monument can significantly add to our understanding of domestic settlement, agriculture and economy during the later prehistory.

c.  The monument is a rare example of a defended prehistoric enclosure with a later enclosure within. There are few comparable sites in southern Scotland with and outer sub-oval and inner sub-rectangular enclosure, probably representing different occupation phases.

d. The monument is a good example of a defended enclosure or settlement from later prehistory, with multiple breaks for entrances. The outer enclosure is a good, representative example of its type and form. The inner enclosure is probably later and may have had a different purpose but makes this site a good example of secondary use of an enclosed site. It is therefore an important, highly unusual, example of this monument type.

e.  The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. It can tell us about the character, development and use of enclosures, and the nature of society, economy and social hierarchy in this area of Scotland and further afield during late prehistory. Further research and investigation of the surviving buried remains have the potential to explain the precise chronology of this likely multi-phase site.

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by its association with other prehistoric sites in the area, its locally prominent hilltop location and relationship with the surrounding area.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument, located on a hilltop, is a large enclosure with a smaller sub-rectangular enclosure within it. It survives as buried remains and is visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs.

The outer enclosure is a good example of an enclosed defended site, likely to be late 1st millennium BC or early 1st millennium AD, surviving in an area of high agricultural activity. Although the interior has been ploughed, buried deposits inside the enclosure may preserve evidence relating to potential domestic structures and economy, which may enhance our understanding of the social structures and domestic architecture of the Iron Age people who built and used this monument.

As has been shown by excavation at similar sites, the ditch and ploughed-out rampart may also contain deposits and archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the site. The outer enclosure has at least two breaks visible on the aerial images which are likely entranceways. Multiple entrances to an enclosed defended prehistoric site are less common than examples with a single entrance, and this adds to the interest of the site. Apart from the sub-rectangular enclosure, there are no other internal features visible, such as roundhouses, but buried archaeology related to such features may still survive.

The inner feature is a sub-rectangular enclosure located around the summit of the hill and which might adjoin or overlie the eastern side of the outer enclosure. The date of this feature is unclear, although it is likely to be secondary to the main enclosure. However, it may still have been in contemporaneous use with the outer enclosure as there is evidence for sub-rectangular prehistoric enclosures in Scotland.

Some sources have suggested that the inner enclosure may be a Roman fortlet. It is rare for a Roman camp or fortlet to be built within an earlier defended enclosure, although not unknown; a nearby example is Ward Law (Scheduled Monument reference SM674). However, although the size and plan of the enclosure is similar to such monuments, its location relative to the Solway Firth, local rivers and other confirmed Roman sites does not strongly support this interpretation. Furthermore, there are no recorded finds on the site to suggest Roman occupation. Based on current evidence, the inner enclosure therefore cannot be confidently identified as being Roman. It is possible, that the inner enclosure is much later, perhaps medieval or later in date and could be related to agricultural activity such as stock holding.

There is potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen within the monument. It has the potential to add to our understanding of settlement, land-use and environment during the later Prehistoric period. It can also inform us about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, as well as the structure of contemporary society and economy. Study of the monument's form compared with other enclosures could enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of prehistoric defended enclosures in general.

To date, there have been no recorded excavations or find spots at the site. Further scientific study of this site would allow us to develop a better understanding of the nature and chronology of the enclosures, including its date of origin, the character of the remains and the overall development sequence. This would also help us to understand the relationship between the outer and inner enclosures – if they were contemporary and the order in which they were constructed, occupied, altered, abandoned or possibly even re-occupied.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Forts and defended settlements are found throughout Scotland. This example is of significance because it is one of the few examples in southern Scotland with a sub-rectangular enclosure within.

There are other sites in the vicinity which provide important context for the enclosures on Camp Hill.  Around 1km west-northwest of Camp Hill is the later prehistoric defended settlement of Conchieton, The Doon, fort, Doon Hill (scheduled monument SM7670; Canmore ID 64157). The Doon is a well-preserved example of a complex Iron Age fort with a single entrance and multiple ditches and ramparts. The two prehistoric enclosed sites are most likely inter-visible and if contemporary they may have had shared lines of communication and had complimentary or contrasting purposes. The only other confirmed prehistoric site in the immediate locality is Conchieton, cairn NE of (scheduled monument SM7671; Canmore ID 64141) around 700m northwest. The cairn dates to the Bronze Age and has been partly excavated, containing at least one cist. Although it is probably earlier than the outer enclosure at Camp Hill, this cairn demonstrates clear prehistoric activity in the locality.

To the northeast of Camp Hill is Fox Covert Hill enclosure (Canmore ID 205217) which is also visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. The enclosure is sub-rectangular in plan within a single ditch, enclosing an area around 125m by 73m. The overall size of the site is similar to the outer enclosure at Camp Hill and the sub-rectangular plan form is similar to the inner enclosure at Camp Hill. There is no available dating evidence for Fox Covert Hill and further research is required to place the site in a chronology with Camp Hill. There is potential the enclosure at Fox Covert Hill is contemporary with one or both enclosures on Camp Hill.

There is potential to study these sites together to better understand their functions within the local communities, settlement hierarchy and possible chronological development in the area. The monument has the potential to enhance and broaden our understanding of prehistoric society and community as well as social organisation, land division and land use. This monument offers a rare opportunity to help inform our understanding of possible interaction and relationship between enclosed, defended prehistoric settlements.  

The enclosures occupy a locally prominent landscape position on top of a hill. The monument has views in all directions as a result of its position in the landscape. The monument may have been positioned here to observe or control movement along the valleys below. The prominent siting of the enclosures may have also been a highly visible statement of presence or power to those living nearby or travelling through the area.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this site's cultural significance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 64145 (accessed on 22/01/2021).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MDG3737 (accessed on 22/01/2021).

Jones, B. (1979). 'Aerial reconnaissance, Solway survey; Dumfries and Galloway 1977 to 1979', Discovery Excavation Scotland. Page: 3.

Nicholson, A. (2006). 'Dumfries Museum - Barri Jones Collections, Dumfries and Galloway (Borgue, Kirkbean, Kirkinner, Minnigaff parishes), desk-based assessment', Discovery Excavation Scotland. Page: 47.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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