Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC4055: Duns Law  

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HER:  Scottish Borders 58640

NMR:  NT 75 SE 2 (58640)

SM:  3939

NGR:  NT 7850 5468

X:  378500  Y:  654680  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort is situated on the rounded summit of Duns Law immediately overlooking the town from the N. Elliptical on plan, it measures 193m from NE to SW by 162m transversely (2.5ha) within the remains of two ramparts, though these have been severely reduced by subsequent occupation and extensive ridged cultivation both within the interior and around the periphery. Within the interior, the most obvious feature is a 17th-century military field work measuring about 60m square internally and equipped with bastions at each of the corners, but a series of rectilinear courts and yards can also be seen overlying the defences on the ENE and S, within which at least eight rectangular building platforms are visible. In addition there are at least three stone-founded round-houses and several other platforms, which probably relate to a late Iron Age occupation of the fort. The only possible entrance into the fort lies amongst the yards on the ENE.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -260976  Y:  7515732  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -2.344385  Latitude:  55.78499  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Scottish Borders

Historic County:   Berwickshire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Duns

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:  218.0m

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:  ✓  A cist is suposed to have been found at 'Dunselaw' sometime between 1833 and 1853 (Stevenson 1856, 156)

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Certainly occupied by a small 17th century artillery fortification thought to have been erected by General Leslie in 1639. A series of rectilinear yards overlying the defences are probably the remains of a late Iron Age and medieval occupation of the fort

None:  No details.

Investigations

Photographed by John Dent in 1992, and by RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 1980, 2005 and 2008

1st Identified Map Depiction (1857):  Annotated Camp on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Berwick 1862, sheet 16.7)
Other (1894):  Description by David Christison (1895, 154-5)
Other (1908):  Description (RCAHMS 1909, 23-4, no.120)
Earthwork Survey (1912):  Plan by James Hewat Craw and description (RCAHMS 1915, 66-7, no.119, fig 65; RCAHMS BWD 15/1; BWD 15/1/4 & DP225501)
Other (1968):  Resurveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1977):  Scheduled
Other (1979):  Description by RCAHMS
Other (1996):  Re-Scheduled

Interior Features

The defences and interior on the ENE and S are overlain by a series of rectilinear yards in which there are at least eight rectangular building platforms in addition to at least three stone-founded round-houses and several other circular platforms. Otherwise there are tracers of ridged cultivation and General Leslie's fortification of 1639

Water Source

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

Surface

Lying within a series of rectilinear yards overlying the defences

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

Only the rectilinear yards are visibe

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

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  1:  The whole circuit has been severely reduced by cultivation and later settlements

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Two ramparts are recorded where best preserved, but the whole circuit has been heavily reduced

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

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  Overlain by the rectilinear yards

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

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

Christison, D (1895) 'The forts of Selkirk, the Gala Water, the Southern slopes of the Lammermoors, and the north of Roxburgh'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 29 (1894-50), 108-79

RCAHMS (1909) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. First report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Berwick. HMSO: Edinburgh.

RCAHMS (1915) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Sixth report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Berwick (Revised Issue). HMSO: Edinburgh

Stevenson, W (1856) 'On a cist found at Broomhill, near Dunse'. Hist Berwickshire Natur Club 3 (1850-6), 156-7

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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