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Crichton Mains

Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Site Name Crichton Mains

Classification Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 54797

Site Number NT46SW 11

NGR NT 4001 6191

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT46SW 11 4001 6191

This well-preserved souterrain, which was re-roofed in the 19th century, is situated on the N side of a low ridge 300m WNW of the fort NT46SW 10. The curved chamber measures 15.7m in length and tapers from 2m in breadth at the SE end to 1.5m at the NW end. The partly buried lintel of a possible entrance is visible at the NW end, but today access to the chamber can only be gained from the NE through a side passage with a low 'creep'. The walls of both the chamber and the side passage incorporate numerous blocks of Roman ashlar, and one of the eight original lintels of the chamber appears to bear carving in relief of a roughly executed Pegasus, the emblem of Legio II Augusta. It is probable that the Roman material was removed from an adjacent military road-post, probably of Antonine date.

Rosehill 1871; A J H Edwards 1925; RCAHMS 1929; L J F Keppie and B J Arnold 1984; H Welfare 1984; RCAHMS 1988

Visited by OS (BS) 30 July 1975.


Publication Account (1985)

Old clothes or waterproofs and a torch are essential for this site-and care in crossing the fields. A short entrance passage below ground leads into the main curving gallery over 15 m long and 1.8 m or more high and wide. Except where it has been arched over after rediscovery, the roof is original-massive stone lintels over 2 m long and generally placed close together. The drystone walls incline inward slightly to meet the roof.

Particularly interesting and important is the re-use of around 70 stones of Roman origin. These are finelysquared and dressed, many of them with characteristic diamond/diagonal chiselling. Two such blocks stand at the entrance door; two more form the jambs of the opening at the north-west end of the gallery. The majority, however, have been placed at the top of the wall that forms the inner curve.

One lintel towards the east end is carved with the figure of a Pegasus or winged horse-the emblem of the Legio II Augusta. Furthermore, one of the door jambs at the north-west end bears a groove or channel suggesting earlier use as a gutter surrounding the open courtyard of a Headquarters building in a typical Roman fort. As yet the site of a fort in the neighbourhood of Crichton has proved elusive, but clearly the souterrain was built after a Roman withdrawal.

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).


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