Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC3949: Huntshaw  

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HER:  Scottish Borders 55490

NMR:  NT 53 NE 1 (55490)

SM:  

NGR:  NT 5745 3995

X:  357450  Y:  639950  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort, rather than occupying the summit of Huntshaw Hill, is situated on the sloping SE flank of the hill to the NE of the farm, and is remarkable for the complex array of enclosures revealed by cropmarks, comprising a double-ditched inner enclosure, an outer enclosure, two phases of a subsidiary enclosure lying between the inner and outer enclosures on the SW, and a small rectangular enclosure attached externally to the outer on the NNW; surrounding the whole is a system of linear boundaries. The sequence of any of these elements is difficult to determine without excavation, but the rectangular enclosure on the NNW appears likely to have been butted onto the outer enclosure, while the two successive enclosures on the SW appear to have both adopted elements of the inner and outer circuits, and indeed, at one point obliterated all trace of the outer. The inner enclosure is an irregular circle on plan and encloses an area measuring some 85m across, but its inner ditch is no more than 3m in maximum breadth, contrasting strongly with the ditch between 4m and 6m in breadth set some 10m outside it. Thus, despite their strictly concentric arrangement, with two corresponding entrances on the S and E respectively, these two ditches may represent successive phases of enclosure; allowing for the presence of ramparts on the inner lip of each ditch, they would have enclosed 0.5ha and 1ha respectively. Likewise the concentric arrangement of the outer enclosure, which forms a regular oval on plan, measuring internally about 210m from ENE to WSW by 170m transversely, is no guarantee that it is a subsidiary enclosure of the inner defences; with a ditch up to 5m in breadth and an internal rampart of commensurate size it is likely to have been a free-standing enclosure of some 2.5ha. A possible entrance into the outer enclosure can be seen on the S, though it is not aligned with the one through this side of the inner enclosure, but the cropmarks around the rest of the circuit are not sufficiently clear to identify any others. other entrances into the inner enclosure may also have been obscured by a superimposed field boundary on the N and what appears to be a natural drainage gully traversing the enclosures on the W. The perimeters of both inner and outer lines on the SW are also obscured by the two successive enclosures, which give the impression that they have been imposed on the defences of the fort. The inner appears to adopt the line of the outer fort circuit on its SW and is shaped like a teardrop on plan, tapering to a point on the SE; traces of an internal bank form a continuous feature around its perimeter, enclosing an area measuring about 40m from NW to SE by a maximum of 25m transversely. On its SE side are traces of another ditch forming what is probably a polygonal enclosure, apparently springing tangentially from the broader end of the 'teardrop'. This utilises the outer ditch of the inner circuit to make its N side, crossing over the line of the outer enclosure on its SE side before turning sharply back at right angles to return on the SW; at least one entrance causeway can be seen on the SE near the southern corner. While it is impossible to be certain without excavation, these are likely to be the remains of late Iron Age settlements occupying elements of an earlier fort.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -298082  Y:  7489300  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.677721  Latitude:  55.651248  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Scottish Borders

Historic County:   Berwickshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Earlston

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

A glass bangle dating from the 1st-2nd century AD from the site is in the Hunterian Museum (Stevenson 1955, 220), but there is no reason to believe this dates any of the defensive enclosure and is more likely to come from what has been presented in the summary as a late Iron Age settlement enclosure.

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:  ✓  Probably occupied by Late Iron Age settlement enclosures. Subsequently all have been ploughed down

None:  No details.

Investigations

Photographed by CUCAP in 1961, 1964 and 1972, and by the RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000

Other (1870):  Known to the farmer (Craw 1921, 244n)
1st Identified Written Reference (1921):  Description by James Hewat Craw (1921, 244n)
Other (1956):  Visited by the OS
Other (1961):  First photographed by CUCAP

Interior Features

Featureless apart from what are probably several sumps belonging to the natural drainage gully and the probably late Iron Age settlement enclosures

Water Source

The natural drainage gully and the probable sumps along its line suggest that water would have been available internally

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

Though their contexts are unknown, a glass bangle dating from the 1st-2nd century AD from the site is in the Hunterian Museum (Stevenson 1955, 220), while a whetstone from the farm is also in the Wilton Lodge Museum, Hawick (HAKMG 4082)

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:  3:  The whole circuit is ploughed flat

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  2:  There are almost certainly other gaps elswhere, but these are hidden in diffuse cropmarks or obscured by natural fetures

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Simple Gap:  Through both ditches of the inner enclosure
Entrance 2 (South):  Simple Gap:  Through both ditches of the inner enclosure
Entrance 2 (South):  Simple Gap:  A possible gap in the outer enclosure

Enclosing Works

Three roughly concentric enclosures, probably representing successive enclosures, and in the case of the outer ditch of the inner enclosure and the outer enclosure, apparently largest around the uphill side

Enclosed Area 1:  0.5ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  1.0ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  2.5ha.
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  2.5ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  While there is no discernible stratigraphy between the defensive circuits, there is clear evidence of sequence with what are probably the overlying enclosures, albeit that the sequence cannot be demonstrated conclusively without excavation.

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

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

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:  3:  Excludes the overlying settlement enclosures and the outlying linear earthwork

Annex

Annex:  ✗  The outer enclosure here is regarded as a free-standing enclosure rather than an annexe to the inner enclosure

References

Craw, J H (1921) 'Notes on Berwickshire Forts, with a description of those recently discovered'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 55 (1920-1), 231-55

Stevenson, R B K (1955) 'Native bangles and Roman glass'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 88 (1953-5), 208-21

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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