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Stirling, Westerlands

Dun (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Stirling, Westerlands

Classification Dun (Iron Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Wester Livilands; Braehead

Canmore ID 47274

Site Number NS79SE 1002

NGR NS 7983 9237

NGR Description NS c. 798 923

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/47274

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Stirling
  • Parish Stirling
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Stirling
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Archaeology Notes ( - 1950)

NS89SW 7 800 917.

(NS 800 917) Site of round building.

Information from O G S Crawford, undated.

Near to Stirling, at a mansion-house called Livilands, there has stood another of the round houses, which seems to have had three circular walls with probably 20 feet of space between each of them. The stones of these walls are all gone, but the mark where their foundations had been is sufficiently distinct. The area of the central chamber had apparently been about 50 feet diameter. It is situated on a part of that terrace or ancient sea-beach which is found around almost the whole valley of the Forth, and on which elevation many of those round houses are built. Its height is about 40 feet.

C Maclagan 1873

There are no visible remains of this antiquity, and the present owners of the property have no knowledge of it.

Visited by OS (FDC) 27 June 1950

Activities

Field Visit (14 February 1954)

NS c. 800 916.

It is recorded (Maclagan 1873, 33) that "at a mansion house called Livilands", there was formerly a fort with three concentric walls about 20 ft. apart, the innermost enclosing an area about 50 ft. in diameter. No traces of this structure can now be seen, and its precise position is uncertain.

RCAHMS 1963, visited 14 February 1954

Note (1979)

Livilands NS c. 800 917 NS89SW 7

What may have been a dun measuring about 15m in diameter within three concentric walls, is reported to have stood at 'a mansion-house called Livilands'.

RCAHMS 1979

(Maclagan 1872, 33; RCAHMS 1963, p. 80, no. 81.)

Excavation (September 2016)

Excavation of the rear lawn of the property [NS 7983 9237] and the slopes of the promontory revealed evidence of extensive Victorian activity on the site and evidence of the previous 17th century building and garden.

The trenches revealed numerous layers of made ground extending out onto the south-eastern slope and contained by the substantial stone revetments and indicate a significant amount of material was

deposited in order to extend and level the ground on top of the promontory. Quarry markings on the large stones of the revetments on the slopes revealed after vegetation clearance, indicate that these were likely part of the historic landscaping of the property

grounds rather than prehistoric in origin. If Maclagan’s prehistoric structure stood in this area of the site – the furthest point on the promontory, offering the best naturally defensive position – then it has either been destroyed or extremely deeply buried by the Victorian works or may in fact be under the building foundations. Evidence of a dry stone construction found in Trench 10, at the front of the property near the promontory neck, may be prehistoric in origin. A second season at the site is proposed to confirm the nature of these remains and further explore the surrounding area. If this feature is MacLagan’s broch then its location, at the head of the burn’s valley would imply it was constructed to control access to and from the Carse.

Cook and McCormick, 2016, Data Structure Report, 18

Excavation (30 June 2017 - 3 July 2017)

NS 79745 92322 An antiquarian reference suggested a broch-like feature [NS89SW 7] at Westerlands House [NS79SE 405]. An initial season in 2016 had identified a layer of undressed stones possibly the remains of the broch. The 30 June – 3 July 2017 season expanded work around this layer of stones. The excavation revealed that the stable block had been built on a knoll with a linear hollow or burn to its N, which had been infilled with both undressed rubble and imported soil. The demolition layer was associated with late 17th-/18th-century Scottish reduced ware. To the S of the stable block a single posthole was identified. It is assumed that the broch structure had been located on the site of the stable block and had been demolished to construct the stable block.

Archive: Stirling Council Archaeology Unit (intended)

Murray Cook and Therese McCormick

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

Note (12 August 2020)

A description of what may have been a prehistoric dun at ‘Livilands’ (Maclagan 1873, 33) has led to some debate over its precise location and character. Although they did not locate the remains, both OS (1950) and RCAHMS (1963, No. 81) preferred the hilltop site at Easter Livilands (centre NS 800 916), classifying the site as an Iron Age fort on the basis of its ‘three circular walls’, while the term dun was preferred in a later list (RCAHMS 1979, No. 163).

In 2008, the chance discovery of an unfinished Iron Age rotary quern (NS79NE 1000) at Westerlands, formerly Wester Livilands (NS 7981 9225), some 620m NNW of Easter Livilands, led to the suggestion that the dun may have been located there (DES 2008, 173-4). This theory was tested further by excavation both to the E and SW of Westerlands in 2016 and 2017 (Cook and McCormick, Data Structure Reports; DES 2017, 190). The excavation did not produce any firm evidence for an Iron Age structure.

In practice the classification, date and location of Maclagan’s discovery remain unclear, although an unusual earthwork feature with three banks that is depicted immediately to the E of Wester Livilands (now Westerlands) on the 1st edition of the OS 25-inch map (at NS 7984 9238) may provide some clue (Stirlingshire 1898 (surveyed 1859-60), sheet xvii.7), and would likely have drawn the attention of an antiquarian. Excavations by Cook and McCormick in 2016 suggested this was a garden feature, but this conclusion does not preclude the possibility that it is Maclagan’s ‘three circular walls’.

In light of this re-assessment the location of the dun has been updated to NS c. 798 923, and the site re-assigned from map sheet NS89SW to NS79SE.

Information from HES Survey and Recording (GFG), 12 August 2020.

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