Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3362: Southdean Law  

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  Scottish Borders 56826

NMR:  NT 60 NW 2 (56826)

SM:  2211

NGR:  NT 6350 0938

X:  363500  Y:  609380  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort occupies the western of the two summits that make up the top of Southdean Law. Pear-shaped on plan, it measures about 88m from NE to SW by up to 46m transversely (0.32ha) within two ramparts up to 12m apart. Both ramparts are reduced to scarps, the outer studded with intermittent outer facing stones on the SW quarter, and have been largely obliterated on the NE by an overlying late Iron Age settlement comprising up to twelve stone-founded round-houses and platforms with a series of scooped courts and enclosures. Probably reusing the entrance into the fort on the E, the SW side of this settlement is bounded by a bank that cuts across the interior of the fort from NE to SW, and may even be the remains of an independent enclosure taking in the summit.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -286931  Y:  7435394  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.577549  Latitude:  55.377066  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Scottish Borders

Historic County:   Roxburghshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Southdean

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  290.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

In the absence of excavation, there are neither stratified artefacts nor radiocarbon dates to provide a chronology for the defences.

Reliability:  D - None

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Overlain by Late Iron Age settlement

None:  No details.

Investigations

In the most recent fieldwork here by RCAHMS, Piers Dixon suggests that the bank delimiting the SW side of the later settlement was a primary rampart, to which an annexe had been added before both were encompassed by the outer rampart. While the bank may well be part of the defensive sequence rather than the later settlement, Dixon's sequence is unnecessarily complicated for the available evidence, though this is not to say that the bank in question is not either primary, or indeed a contraction of the interior at some point prior to the construction of the late Iron Age settlement. Aerial photographs were taken of the fort in 1992, and more recently kite photographs by Hamish Fenton.

1st Identified Map Depiction (1859):  Annotated Fort on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Roxburgh 1863, sheet 34.1)
Other (1884):  Noted (Geikie 1884, 143)
Earthwork Survey (1947):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1956, 424-6, no.942, fig 564; RCAHMS RXD 191/1-2; Feachem 1963, 153)
Other (1962):  Scheduled
Other (1967):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1976):  Visited by the OS
Other (1992):  Description by RCAHMS

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the overlying late Iron Age settlement

Water Source

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

There is no reason to believe that any of these structures pre-date the late Iron Age settlement

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

Round-houses belong to the late Iron Age settlement

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  1:  The NE sector is virtually obliterated by the late Iron Age settlement

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Twin ramparts set about 12m apart

Enclosed Area 1:  0.32ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.3ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.7ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  Enough remains to be confident that this was a complete circuit

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  2

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Feachem, R W (1963) A guide to prehistoric Scotland. Batsford: London

Geikie, J (1884) «List of hill forts, intrenched camps, etc. in Roxburghshire on the Scotch side of the Cheviots. Hist Berwickshire Natur Club 10 (1882_4) 139-44

RCAHMS (1956) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. An inventory of the ancient and historical monuments of Roxburghshire: with the fourteenth report of the Commission, 2v. HMSO: Edinburgh

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.