Scheduled Monument

Castlelaw, fort and souterrain 205m NNW of SM90064

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Supplementary Information Updated
20th Century Military and Related: Fort, Prehistoric domestic and defensive: souterrain, earth-house
Local Authority
NT 22903 63865
322903, 663865


The monument is the remains of a hillfort dating probably to the Iron Age (between about 800 BC and 500 AD). The visible remains comprise a sequence of defensive ramparts and ditches enclosing an oval interior, with a souterrain cut into the ditch by the east-northeast entrance. The fort occupies a spur 300m above sea level on the southeast flank of Castlelaw Hill, in the Pentland Hills. There are extensive views east-northeast to East Lothian, southeast to the northwest slopes of the Moorfoot Hills, and south to the hills around Peebles.

The fort interior measures about 82m east-northeast / west-southwest by 35m transversely, as defined by the innermost rampart. This rampart stands only 0.5m high when viewed from the interior, but is at least 1.5m in height on the outside for most of its circuit. Beyond the inner rampart are outer defences in the form of an earth rampart with a broad quarry ditch inside it and a deep ditch and counterscarp bank outside. The outer defences are best preserved on the north, while elsewhere they have been reduced by the rig and furrow cultivation that almost completely surrounds the fort. Three entrances pierce the defences: on the west-southwest, south-southeast and east-northeast. Excavation has demonstrated the presence of buried features that provide significant additional evidence, including the remains of a single palisade apparently pre-dating the inner rampart. Excavation also revealed a well-preserved souterrain built into the ditch between the inner and outer ramparts, close to the east-northeast entrance. The souterrain was excavated by Gordon Childe in 1931-2 and is now protected by a concrete roof. The passage measures about 21m in length from north to south, gradually widening from 0.9m at the north entrance to 1.6m at the slightly rounded terminal to the south. The wall also increases in height from 1.3m at the entrance to 1.7m at the terminal. A cupmarked stone is built into the top of the east wall at the terminal. The souterrain passage curves to the south-southwest about half way along its length, where a short side passage leads off to a roughly circular chamber on the west, measuring about 3.6m in diameter and standing up to 1.95m in height. Nine 20th-century marker stones indicate points on the boundary of the guardianship boundary.

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 extends up to but excludes a fence that surrounds the fort. The scheduling also specifically excludes the modern structures at the souterrain (such as the railings, steps, jambs, gate and concrete roof), the above-ground elements of the information boards, and the gate and steps through the fence that bounds that fort. The monument was first scheduled in 1924; the present amendment provides documents to current standards.

Statement of National Importance

The monument has significant potential to enhance our understanding and appreciation of prehistoric forts, the prehistoric settlement pattern and later prehistoric society. In addition to the impressive upstanding remains, the site preserves important buried deposits and structures relating to its construction and use, as demonstrated by the excavated evidence for a palisade which may have been the earliest enclosure, and for the use of timber beams to line parts of the inner rampart. The monument has high potential to expand our understanding of the design and development of enclosed sites in eastern Scotland. The site is also of particular importance because it includes the well-preserved remains of a substantial souterrain, and because of its proximity to a second enclosure, Castle Knowe immediately to the northeast, with which it can be compared. The fort retains its field characteristics to a marked degree and its well-preserved banks and ditches can easily be appreciated. The scale and complexity of the defences suggests that this monument was an important component of the prehistoric landscape, and it is still a significant feature in the modern landscape. Our understanding of the distribution and character of later prehistoric enclosures would be significantly diminished if this monument was to be lost or damaged.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 51871 (accessed on 21/7/2016).

Midlothian Historic Environment Record reference MEL8172 (accessed on 21/7/2016).

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Castlelaw Fort

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HER/SMR Reference


About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 19/08/2022 19:10