Castle Law, Glencorse

Boundary Stone(s), Cultivation Terrace(s), Cup Marked Stone, Fort, Settlement, Souterrain

Site Name Castle Law, Glencorse

Classification Boundary Stone(s), Cultivation Terrace(s), Cup Marked Stone, Fort, Settlement, Souterrain

Alternative Name(s) Castlelaw

Canmore ID 51871

Site Number NT26SW 2

NGR NT 22900 63870

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Glencorse
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT26SW 2.00 22900 63870 Fort, Settlement, Souterrain, Cupmarks, Cultivation Terraces.

NT26SW 2.01 22978 63878 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.02 22960 63926 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.03 22918 63935 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.04 22872 63921 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.05 22833 63887 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.06 22821 63859 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.07 22838 63821 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.08 22878 63796 Boundary Marker

NT26SW 2.09 22949 63807 Boundary Marker

(NT 2290 6387) Camp (NR)

OS 6" map, (1957).

Fort and settlement (R W Feachem 1965) Castle Law. Excavations here in 1931-2, and in 1948 showed the single palisade trench of the earliest structure was succeeded by a single rampart reinforced internally with timber beams, at least near the gate. The course of the rampart differed slightly from the palisade, so that on one side of the entrance in the former the palisade was found outside it, and on the other, inside it. In the third phase a pair of ramparts and ditches was added outside the singleton to produce a standard multi-vallate fort of the period immediately before the local arrival of the Roman armies in AD 79 or 80. (R W Feachem 1963). A well- preserved souterrain, dating perhaps to the 3rd century AD, was also found, built into the ditch of the inner rampart near the old entrance to the settlement. Numerous finds were made, which are listed by V G Childe in 1933. They include sherds of Samian pottery, native pottery, a bloom of iron, and a buckle with apparently Celtic ornament, which Curle states is probably from provincial Germany, such buckles being common on Roman sites there. They were presented to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) in 1939. (Accession Nos. HH 425-63, 574-5.)

RCAHMS 1929; V G Childe 1933; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1939 (Donations); S Piggott and C M Piggott 1954.

Generally as described and planned by above authorities. No trace of the palisade trench survives.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 2 February 1970.

Roman finds,all 2nd century, include an enamelled bronze brooch, glass bottle fragments and Samian. A Romano-Celtic mounting was also found. All are in NMAS.

A S Robertson 1970.

Photographed by the RCAHMS in 1980 (colour transparencies).

RCAHMS AP catalogue 1980.

This multivallate fort, a guardianship monument in the care of Historic Scotland, occupies a spur on the SE flank of Castlelaw Hill, about 150m NNW of Castlelaw farmsteading (NT26SW 66). Oval on plan, the fort measures about 82m from ENE to WSW by 35m transversely within the innermost rampart, which barely rises more than 0.5m in height internally, but is at least 1.5m in external height around most of its circuit. The outer defences comprise an earthen rampart accompanied externally by a deep ditch and a counterscarp bank, and internally by a broad quarry-ditch. These defences are best-preserved on the N, and elsewhere they have been reduced by the cultivation of rig-and-furrow (NT26SW 119) that almost completely surrounds the fort. On the NW, the rigs override the outer ditch and the counterscarp bank, and one rig appears to have been cultivated the length of the N side between the innermost rampart and the internal quarry ditch of the outer defences. On the S side, rigs measuring about 5m in breadth run uphill onto the lip of the counterscarp bank, but above this the defences have been transformed into a series of cultivation terraces at right-angles to the axis of the rig. The interior has also been extensively cultivated (on three separate alignments), but heavily-worn tracks extend up the slope through well-defined entrances on the WSW and SSE. A third entrance, on the ENE, is heavily disturbed, partly as a result of excavations carried out here by Childe (1933) and the Piggotts (1952).

This entrance was also disturbed by the insertion of a souterrain into the quarry-ditch of the outer rampart. This was also excavated by Childe and is now capped by a concrete roof. The visible fabric of the passage and a side-chamber on the W appears to be largely as excavated by Childe. The passage measures about 21m in length from N to S and gradually widens from 0.9m at the entrance at the N end to about 1.6m at the slightly rounded terminal on the S. The wall also increases in height from 1.3m at the entrance to 1.7m at the terminal and in places it is slightly corbelled. A cupmarked stone is built into the top of the E wall at the terminal. The full dimensions of the stone cannot be determined, but it measures about 0.45m in width by 0.25m in thickness, and its slightly convex upper surface bears five cupmarks (two of them oval) up to 50mm in diameter by about 12mm in depth. The souterrain passage curves to the SSW about half way along its length, at which point a short length of passage leads off to a roughly circular chamber on the W. This chamber measures about 3.6m in diameter and up to 1.95m in height.

The fort and souterrain are enclosed by a fence, but the guardianship area is also defined by nine boundary markers (see NT26SW 2.01-09).

(CDTA 95-103, 269)

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS) 8 June 2005

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