Ancient Monuments

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Round barrow, pit circle, enclosure and pit 180m southwest of Eckford Mill

A Scheduled Monument in Jedburgh and District, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.5351 / 55°32'6"N

Longitude: -2.4522 / 2°27'7"W

OS Eastings: 371556

OS Northings: 626916

OS Grid: NT715269

Mapcode National: GBR C49F.XM

Mapcode Global: WH8YC.94JJ

Entry Name: Round barrow, pit circle, enclosure and pit 180m southwest of Eckford Mill

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2022

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13764

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Eckford

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Jedburgh and District

Traditional County: Roxburghshire


The monument comprises the buried remains of a prehistoric enclosure containing a round barrow and an arrangement of pits. An additional single pit is located to the north northwest of the enclosure. The features are visible as cropmarks in oblique aerial imagery. These remains are the result of funerary and ceremonial activity dating to the later Neolithic or early Bronze Age (around 3000-1500BC). The monument lies in relatively flat agricultural land to the south of the Kale Water, at approximately 60m above sea level.   

The outer sub-circular enclosure feature is 30m in diameter. It is defined by an interrupted ditch approximately 2m wide. In the centre of the enclosure is a circular ring ditch feature thought to be remains of an earthen burial mound or round barrow. The ring ditch measures up to 17m in diameter and at its centre there is an elongated feature measuring 3m by 2.5m thought to be the remains of a burial or burials. Surrounding this central pit is an irregular elliptical arrangement of eight pit features. In oblique aerial imagery, there is an outlying pit feature, 15m to the north northwest, approximately 1.3m in diameter.

The scheduled area is a clipped circle measuring 70m in diameter. 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.

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 or appreciation of the past, or has the potential to do so. This monument is an important indicator of prehistoric activity in southern Scotland during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. The monument can help us understand more about prehistoric society, particularly funerary practice, ceremony and the nature of ritual and belief systems. This example contributes to our understanding of the plan, design and siting of prehistoric ritual and burial monuments in the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. 

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. The monument survives as the buried, cropmarked remains of an earthwork enclosure containing a burial monument and pit circle, as seen in oblique aerial imagery. There is therefore good potential for the survival of archaeological and ecofactual materials within the ditch and pit fills and in the interior and exterior areas of the monument. Within the burial mound there is the potential for the survival of human remains and associated grave goods. The monument can help us understand more about burial and associated ritual. The presence of an elliptical arrangement of pits within the area of the burial mound, enclosed by the surrounding ditches and, with an isolated pit in close proximity to the enclosure, adds considerably to the form and function of the site and the overall assemblage of archaeological materials likely to be present.

c.   The monument is a rare example of a complex of concentric features – a circular ditched enclosure containing a circular burial monument, itself containing a central burial surrounded by a pit circle. While the absolute dating and relative chronology of these features is not confirmed, their relative, spatial layout is. Each component has been positioned concentrically with respect to a central point and apparently, without overlapping adjacent features. The phasing of the site can only be suggested by remote imagery and with reference to the investigation of similar sites, however, the presence of three distinct elements may indicate a complex history involving adaptation and reuse over a longer period of time. 

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. It has significant archaeological interest because of the features and components surviving in the buried soils here. It can tell us about the character, development and use of funerary and ritual sites, and the nature of prehistoric society, economy and social hierarchy in this area of Scotland and further afield. Taken together, the presence of at least three major components – the ditched enclosure, the burial mound and the pit circle have the potential to inform our understanding of the origins and development of similar sites across Scotland. 

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 buried remains of an enclosure feature containing a ring ditch, central pit and concentric pit circle are thought to represent funerary, ritual or ceremonial activity dating to the later Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The features share similar characteristics with contemporary domestic structures, however the transcription of oblique aerial imagery indicates the survival of an earthen burial monument or round barrow with a central burial or burials and related pit circle or timber circle and therefore, a combined funerary and ceremonial function. The outer enclosure is thought to relate to a different phase of burial and may represent an enlarging of the burial mound or it may represent the ceremonial function of the complex (such as is seen in henge monuments). 

Individually these features are of significant interest, representing prehistoric activity around burial, commemoration and ceremony. The timber circle, a type of ceremonial site that is thought to predate both the burial mound and the enclosing feature, may represent the first phase of activity here. Taken together, these features represent an important phase or phases of activity - the relationship and function between each component as significant as the components themselves.   

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

The features here are known of individually, across the country, as relatively widespread examples of prehistoric earthen burial mounds, enclosures (some of which are known as henges, of a ceremonial nature) and as timber circles, also with a ceremonial function.

As separate components, round barrows are part of a wider class of prehistoric burial monument. They are constructed from earth and have therefore been susceptible to decay and attrition throughout history, especially in areas where agricultural improvements have taken place. Only approximately 30 upstanding examples are known of (in lowland central Scotland, the southwest, northeast and inner Moray Firth). Many more examples are known of, but only as buried archaeological features visible in oblique aerial imagery, as in this example. They have a wider distribution across Scotland, predominantly positioned in lowland areas. Also separately, there are approximately 80 Neolithic timber circles known of (and of these, 61 are cropmarked such as in this example (Millican, 2008)) although this is one of the smaller examples in the class. Interestingly, eight are located within henges. Lastly, the outer enclosure feature has a very common form and as such, part of a widespread group. While it could be the remains of a ceremonial feature such as seen in henge monuments, it is perhaps more likely as the remains of remodelling (enlarging) the burial mound. 

The visibility of all of these features in similarly cropmarked monuments is relatively uncommon. Combinations of one or more of them are apparent in many examples in fertile, low lying areas of the country. At Gateside (Fife) for example there is a comparable example, where one of two ring ditches interpreted as the remains of a round barrow encloses a circular arrangement of pits (Canmore reference 27793). At Mitchell Hall in East Lothian (Canmore reference 56541) and at Soulseat Loch in Dumfries and Galloway (Canmore reference 80782) there are the buried remains of a round barrow contained by an outer enclosure feature. 

Finally, as an upstanding burial monument with a pronounced profile to the overlying mound, the monument would have had a significant and visible presence in the local landscape. Its positioning was deliberate, to take advantage of views to it and from it and in this case, for example, from higher ground to the North or as part of a natural routeway along the Kale Water.

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

There are no known associative characteristics for this monument.  

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 166387 (accessed on 05/09/2022).

Millican, K, 2008, Turning in circlers: A new assessment of the Neolithic timber circles of Scotland in PSAS, 137, 2007, 5-34.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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