Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3674: White Meldon  

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HER:  Scottish Borders 51528

NMR:  NT 24 SW 12 (51528)

SM:  114

NGR:  NT 2193 4283

X:  321930  Y:  642830  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The fort crowning the summit of the White Meldon is the largest in the upper reaches of the Tweed valley, displaying up to four lines of enclosure, the inner two of which are incomplete circuits that hint at a complex sequence in which the fort has expanded in a series of stages, though the precise sequence is unknown. The third rampart, a tumbled wall about 3.5m in thickness, is the only continuous line of defence visible today, enclosing an area measuring 260m from N to S by 167m transversely (2.9ha), within which there are traces of the stances of at least twenty-nine timber round-houses, mainly represented by shallow ring-grooves and in a few cases enclosing well-defined platforms; aerial photography and fieldwork under a range of conditions suggests there are many more round-houses hidden in the tussocky clumps of grass that clothe large areas of the interior. There are several gaps in the line of this wall, but only those on the NNE and SSW are certainly entrances; at the former the terminals of the inner rampart are staggered to expose the visitor's right side, while the latter is set in the W re-entrant formed where the S end of the fort loops out round the S spur, again exposing the visitor's right side. The second rampart, not much more than a stony scarp lying immediately up slope from the third along the E flank, probably pursued much the same course elsewhere, but the projected course of the innermost, which is no more than a band of grass-grown rubble visible on the SSE, would have formed a considerably smaller enclosure. The only place where there is any clear stratigraphy in the defences, is on the S, where a short isolated length of rampart cuts across the salient in the line of the third rampart on the S spur. This is clearly part of an earlier circuit, but whether it belongs to the second rampart, as proposed by the RCAHMS investigators in 1962, or the outermost fourth circuit visible on the E side of the fort is unknown. And while the RCAHMS investigators opted for a simple expanding sequence as the most likely explanation, in which this outermost rampart represented the fort at its maximum extent (3.6ha), with its defences enhanced by a ditch at the S extremity and an outer rampart and ditch at the N extremity, it is equally possible it formed an earlier enclosure (3.4ha) eccentrically underlying the third circuit. This outermost rampart, which the investigators also considered possibly unfinished, has several gaps along its line, but only that on the NNE is certainly an entrance, and is approached externally by a shallow worn hollow. The summit of the hill is surmounted by an OS triangulation station, but the subsidiary summit to its W has provided the site for a large round cairn, while the gully between them has been tailored in the post-medieval period to create a sheepfold.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -360995  Y:  7493535  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -3.242877  Latitude:  55.672705  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Scottish Borders

Historic County:   Peeblesshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Peebles

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:  427.0m

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:  ✓  Bronze Age round-cairn occupies the subsidiary summit forming the W side of the gully on the W of the true summit

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Overlain by a fold set in the gully on the W side of the summit

None:  No details.

Investigations

Photographed by CUCAP in 1962 and 1969, RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1980, 1991, 1996, 2010 and 2015, and I B M Ralston in 1986. The site has been regularly visited by S Halliday

1st Identified Map Depiction (1856):  Annotated Fort on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Peebles 1859, sheet 13.1)
Other (1864):  Listed by William Chambers (1864, 29)
Earthwork Survey (1886):  Sketch-plan and description by David Christison (1887, 62, pl 1, fig 47
Earthwork Survey (1962):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1967, 148-52, no.330, fig 143; RCAHMS PBD 151/1-5)
Other (1962):  Visited by the OS
Other (1968):  Scheduled
Other (1974):  Revised at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1976):  Visited by the Hill-fort Study Group

Interior Features

The plan surveyed by RCAHMS shows the stances of no fewer than twenty-nine timber round-houses, mainly comprising ring-grooves, but in some cases enclosing shallow central platforms. Oblique aerial photography taken under a range of conditions suggests that there are many more hidden in the rough vegetation.

Water Source

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

Surface

Ring-grooves, some encircling platforms

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

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

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  7:  The RCAHMS plan of 1962 shows several long and short gaps in the various circuits without elaborating their significance

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  in outermost rampart and approached by a shallow worn hollow
Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Oblique:  Staggered terminals in the inner rampart creating oblique approach exposing right side
Entrance 2 (Southwest):  Other Forms:  Set in a re-entrant and exposes the visitor's right side

Enclosing Works

Up to four ramparts representing three or four separate periods of construction, possibly with an early univallate phase

Enclosed Area 1:  2.9ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  3.6ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  3.6ha.

Total Footprint Area:  3.9ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  Clearly elements of sequence at the southern end of the fort, but the precise sequence of construction is not known

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  4

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  4
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  1
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

There is no particular reason to follow the RCAHMS investigator's suggestion that the outermost rampart on the N is unfinished

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:  1:  Short sectors of outer ramaprt with ditches at the N and S extremities

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Chambers, W (1864) A History of Peeblesshire. William and Robert Chambers: Edinburgh and London

Christison, D (1887) 'The prehistoric forts of Peeblesshire'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 21 (1886-7), 13-82

RCAHMS (1967) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Peeblesshire: an inventory of the ancient monuments, 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.

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