Scheduled Monument

Castlelaw, fort and souterrain 205m NNW of SM90064

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
23/02/1924
Last Date Amended
16/08/2016
Supplementary Information Updated
16/01/2018
Type
20th Century Military and Related: Fort, Prehistoric domestic and defensive: souterrain, earth-house
Local Authority
Midlothian
Parish
Glencorse
NGR
NT 22903 63865
Coordinates
322903, 663865

Description

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.

References

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 51871 (accessed on 21/7/2016).

Midlothian Historic Environment Record http://www.johngraycentre.org/collections/getrecord/MLHER_MEL8172/ reference MEL8172 (accessed on 21/7/2016).

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Castlelaw Fort

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/castlelaw-hill-fort

Find out more

HER/SMR Reference

  • http://www.johngraycentre.org/collections/getrecord/MLHER_MEL8172/

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. 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 www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 14/12/2018 04:04