Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3872: Drem, The Chesters  

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

HER:  East Lothian Council MEL881

NMR:  NT 57 NW 1 (56280)

SM:  90072

NGR:  NT 5076 7826

X:  350760  Y:  678260  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The well-known fort known as The Chesters at Drem is situated on a relatively low-lying ridge of rock, which is entirely overlooked by higher ground no more than 100m to the S. The defences are evidently complex, but no clear sequence can be established by survey alone, other than that the innermost rampart, which encloses an oval area on the summit of the ridge measuring about 110m from E to W by 50m transversely (0.47ha), is overlain by a settlement of stone-founded hut-circles and small yards that sprawl across the interior. Whether this rampart, however, was ever used in conjunction with the second rampart, which forms a concentric enclosure of some 0.96ha around it, is quite unknown. Up to four ramparts and ditches can be seen beyond this second line, forming a belt of defences in excess of 40m deep, but they do not form consistently concentric circuits, appearing and disappearing around the ends and northern flank, and entirely missing in the bottom of the gully on the S; almost certainly they represent several periods of construction, and some of the short segments at the E end are either hornworks to provide additional protection to the entrance here, or fragments of an earlier enclosure overlain by the second rampart. This has certainly been a major entrance, the route from the outermost rampart to the innermost covering a distance of some 70m between the terminals of up to six separate lines of defence. A second entrance at the W end is more elaborate still, the present track mounting the slope obliquely from the W before turning sharply back on itself through a gap in the second rampart with overlapping terminals, thus exposing the visitor's left side. A third gap on the S appears more recent, though it may have served the later settlement in the interior.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -310690  Y:  7557381  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.790974  Latitude:  55.994802  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  East Lothian

Historic County:   East Lothian

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Athelstaneford

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:  83.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

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 a late Iron Age settlement and subsequently the site for several WW 2 defence posts

None:  No details.

Investigations

Profiles across the defences in the Soc Antiq Scotland manuscripts (SAS 467; RCAHMS DC52965) are attributed to Christian Maclagan Photographed by John Dewar in 1973 (held by RCAHMS), CUCAP in 1975, Dennis Harding in 1979, and RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1993, 2000, 2008 and 2009

1st Identified Map Depiction (1773):  Concentric ring symbol on Andrew and Mostyn Armstrong's Map of the three Lothians (1773)
1st Identified Written Reference (1835):  Noted (NSA ii, Haddingtonshire, 50)
Other (1853):  Annotated 'British Fort' on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Haddingtonshire 1854, sheet 5); overlying settlement also annotated Picts Houses
Other (1893):  Depicted on the OS 25-inch map (Haddingtonshire 1894, sheet 5.10)
Earthwork Survey (1895):  James Cunningham and Frederick Coles (Cunningham 1896); possibly also the profiles in the Soc Antiq Scotland manuscripts held in RCAHMS DC52965)
Earthwork Survey (1914):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1924, 9-10, no.13, fig 47; RCAHMS ELD 8/1-3)
Other (1923):  Scheduled
Other (1956):  Description during RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (Feachem 1963, 119-20)
Earthwork Survey (1975):  By Roger Mercer on behalf of for SDD-HBM (latter Historic Scotland)
Other (1975):  Visited by the OS
Other (1976):  Visited by the Hill-fort Study Group
Excavation (1976):  Remedial work during the removal of WW2 emplacements (Yates 1976)
Other (1994):  Re-Scheduled
Earthwork Survey (2010):  Contour survey of the interior (Connolly and Cook 2010 a & b)
Geophysical Survey (2011):  Adjacent areas, impinging on the outermost banks on the E (Connolly and Cook 2012)
Earthwork Survey (2011):  Contour survey of the eastern defences (Connolly and Cook 2011; 2012)
Earthwork Survey (2012):  Contour survey of the outer ramparts on the E (Connolly and Cook 2013)
Earthwork Survey (2013):  Ongoing contour survey (Connolly 2013)

Interior Features

The interior of the inner enclosure is occupied by an extensive late Iron Age settlement of stone-founded hut-circles and small yards, and evidently post-dates the innermost rampart

Water Source

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

Surface

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

NO APPARENT FEATURES

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

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Hornwork:  Possible hornwork outside the second rampart, or otherwise a fragment of an earlier enclosure
Entrance 2 (South):  Simple Gap:  Possible a relatively recent break, but equally may relate to the overlying late Iron Age settlement
Entrance 3 (Northwest):  Over-lapping:  Staggered gaps with oblique approach exposing right side before turning sharply back through the overlapping terminals of the second rampart overlap
Entrance 3 (West):  Simple Gap:  In inner rampart
Entrance 3 (Northwest):  Oblique:  Through outer ramparts to overlapping gap in the second rampart

Enclosing Works

Up to six ramparts, but representing several periods of construction

Enclosed Area 1:  0.47ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  0.96ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  1.0ha.

Total Footprint Area:  2.6ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  6

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  6
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  6
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  5

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

Earth and rubble in partial section of the inner rampart

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:  3:  At least threeamongst the outer ramparts, and possibly another netween the 1st and second ramparts

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Connolly, D (2013) 'Athelstaneford, The Chesters Season 4, Survey'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 14 (2013), 68

Connolly, D and Cook, M (2010a) 'The Chesters Season 1, East Lothian (Athelstaneford parish), survey'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 11 (2010), 59

Connolly, D and Cook, M (2010b) The Chesters, Drem, East Lothian: Erosion and Topographic Survey Part 1. Unpublished report available http://www.rampartscotland.co.uk/index.php/publications/

Connolly, D and Cook, M (2011) 'The Chesters Season 2, East Lothian (Athelstaneford parish).' Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 12 (2011), 63

Connolly, D and Cook, M (2012) The Chesters, Drem, East Lothian: Erosion and Topographic Survey Season 2. Unpublished report available http://www.rampartscotland.co.uk/index.php/publications/

Connolly, D and Cook, M (2013) The Chesters, Drem, East Lothian: Erosion and Topographic Survey Season 3. Unpublished report available http://www.rampartscotland.co.uk/index.php/publications/

Cunningham, J H (1896) 'Notes on the 'Chesters,' a Fort near Drem'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 30 (1895-96), 267-9

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

NSA (1834-1845) The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy.

RCAHMS (1924) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eighth report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of East Lothian. HMSO: Edinburgh

Yates, M J (1976) 'The Chesters Fort'. Disc Exc Scot (1976), 32-3

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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