Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3913: The Chesters, Spott  

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HER:  East Lothian Council MEL1683

NMR:  NT 67 SE 2 (57792)

SM:  5766

NGR:  NT 6599 7393

X:  365991  Y:  673933  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort, which is situated on the NW shoulder of the rounded hill above Spott Mill, is heavily ploughed down, but the massive ramparts are still plainly visible, forming broad undulations in the surface of the field, and the ditches have produced strong cropmarks in numerous years of aerial reconnaissance. Roughly circular on plan, it measures 110m from NE to SW by 105m transversely (0.89ha) within two ramparts with external ditches. The gap between the inner ditch and the traces of an internal quarry scoop indicate that the that the inner rampart was in the order of 10m thick, while the inner and outer ditches are 10m and 7m broad respectively. Taken together the defences would have formed an impressive belt in excess of 40m deep, pierced by entrances on the NE, SE, WSW and NNW respectively. Of the latter, that on the NE is a simple gap, as may have been the SE entrance too, except that a tongue of ditch projecting from the S terminal of the outer ditch, which in itself is possibly evidence of a recut phase, closes down the outer gap to create an oblique approach exposing the visitor's right side. The entrance ways of the other two entrances are also angled to expose the visitors right side, but the gaps in the outer ditch have been elaborated in slightly different ways, on the NNW by doglegging the E terminal outwards in front of the inner gap, and on the WSW by turning the S terminal inwards, inside the line of the N terminal, thus creating an overlap. There are several maculae visible on the aerial photographs within the interior, but none resolves into a clear structure. More importantly, the presence of the internal quarry scoop and the massive broad spread of the inner rampart has almost certainly created relatively deep deposits of sediment, particularly in the S half of the interior, that are likely to preserve stratified evidence of occupation.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -283448  Y:  7549910  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.546261  Latitude:  55.957251  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  East Lothian

Historic County:   East Lothian

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Spott

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:  190.0m

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:  ✓  Ploughed down

None:  No details.

Investigations

Photographed by CUCAP in 1948, 1955, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1975 and 1980, by Dennis Harding in 1979, and RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1988, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2013 and 2015

1st Identified Map Depiction (1773):  Concentric ring on a hill symbol on Andrew and Mostyn Armstrong's Map of the three Lothians (1773)
Other (1853):  Annotated 'British Fort' on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Haddingtonshire 1855, sheet 11)
Other (1893):  Depicted on the OS 25-inch map (Haddingtonshire 1894, sheet 11.8)
Other (1913):  Description (RCAHMS 1924, 108-9, no.167)
Other (1954):  Description during RCAHMS Survey of Marginal Lands (Feachem 1963, 124)
Other (1966):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1993):  Scheduled

Interior Features

Clear evidence of areas of deeper sediment in the S half of the interior, and elsewhere of several irregular maculae

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

Several irregular maculae that probably indicate the positions of structures

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

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  4:  The whole circuit is ploughed down

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Two pairs of opposed ditch terminals
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Simple Gap:  Initially constructed with symmetrically opposed terminals
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Oblique:  But evidence of modification of the outer ditch to create an oblique entrance way exposing the visitor's right side
Entrance 3 (Southwest):  Oblique:  Staggered gaps, with a slight outurn of the outer ditch on one side to emphasise the oblique approach exposing right side
Entrance 3 (Southwest):  Simple Gap:  In the inner ditch
Entrance 3 (Southwest):  Hornwork:  Deliberate slight out turn of the outer ditch to create a minor hornwork
Entrance 4 (Northwest):  Oblique:  Oblique approach exposing right side.
Entrance 4 (Northwest):  Simple Gap:  Opposed ditch terminals to either side

Enclosing Works

Two ramparts and ditches

Enclosed Area 1:  0.89ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.9ha.

Total Footprint Area:  2.7ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous 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:  2

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

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

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

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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