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Tollis Hill

Fort (Prehistoric), Arrowhead(S) (Flint)(Prehistoric), Coin(S) (Roman)

Site Name Tollis Hill

Classification Fort (Prehistoric), Arrowhead(S) (Flint)(Prehistoric), Coin(S) (Roman)

Canmore ID 55966

Site Number NT55NW 1

NGR NT 51600 58040

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/55966

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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Lauder
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT55NW 1 5160 5804.

(NT 5160 5803) Camp (NR)

OS 6" map (1957)

This circular fort measures some 300' in diameter within a single rampart and ditch with a low parapet on top of the counterscarp. The defences are well preserved towards the W and N, but somewhat dilapidated on the SE. On the N, where best preserved, the crest of the rampart is from 12' - 13' above the bottom of the ditch and 3' - 4' above the level of the interior. The ditch is 29' broad, from the crest of the rampart to the top of the counter- scarp. The entrance on the W is well-preserved and there is a second entrance on the N which is probably original. Other entrances on the S and E are probably modern. In the interior there are considerable remains of circular foundations, some of which, from their size, may have been sheepfolds.

RCAHMS 1915, visited 1908

This fort is generally as described above. The single bank and ditch, which occupy a strong defensive position, are in a good state of preservation. Within the interior is one sheepfold, 19.0m in diameter and four hollowed-out areas up to 1.0m deep which seem to be too irregular for sheepfolds as suggested by the RCAHMS and may be the result of quarrying, particularly the three close to the S and W sides of the fort. The fourth, and southernmost, has a well-formed entrance leading from the break in the S side of the main rampart and abutting on its W side are the remains of a circular enclosure 6.0m in diameter with a bank 0.2m in maximum height. There are indications of similar foundations abutting the other enclosures, but these, and several other remains about the interior, are so amorphous in character that their outline, age and purpose cannot be determined without excavation. Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (RDL) 29 October 1963

Many Roman coins and flint arrowheads have been found here.

C Maclagan 1875

This fort is as described.

Visited by OS (SFS) 11 August 1975

NT 5160 5804. No change to the previous information.

Surveyed at 1/10,000.

Visited by OS (BS) 24 April 1979.

Activities

Field Visit (16 October 1908)

223. Fort, Tollis Hill.

Situated some 200 yards west of the shepherd's house on Tollis Hill and about 1200 feet over sea-level, is a circular fort (fig. 111 [DP 225411]) with an interior diameter of some 300 feet, surrounded by a single rampart and ditch with a low parapet on the. top of the counterscarp. The defences are well preserved towards the west and north, but somewhat dilapidated on the south-east. The rampart is probably of earth and stone. On the north, where best preserved, the crest of the rampart is from 12 to 13 feet above the bottom of the ditch and 3 to 4 feet above the level of the interior. The breadth of the ditch from crest of rampart to top of counterscarp is 29 feet. There is a well-preserved entrance on the west, 6 to 8 feet across the ditch, flanked on either side of the roadway by the parapet of the counterscarp brought round to junction with the rampart, and there is a second entrance, possibly original, on the north. The other entrances on the south and east are probably modern. In the interior there are considerable remains of circular foundations, some of which, from their size, may have been sheepfolds.

RCAHMS 1915, visited 16th October 1908.

OS Map: Ber., vii. SE.

Publication Account (1985)

Separated by no more than 4km one from each other, fine fortified settlements hover on the hill promontories east of the Leader Water. Some are oval-Addinston (NT 523536), an irregular silhouette on the ridge above the A 697/A 68 immediately south of Carfraemilli or Longcroft (NT 532543), up the side valley from Addinston and high above the meeting of two bums. Tollis Hill, by contrast, is an almost perfect circle, over 90m across internally, and enclosed by a double rampart and intervening ditch. Where these defences are best preserved, towards the west and north, the inner rampart is still 3.6m-4m above the bottom of the ditch and nearly 1m-1.2m above the level of the interior. The outer rampart is rather modest and more by way of a parapet on top of the counterscarp; the distance across the ditch between the two crests, however, is almost 9m.

A well-preserved entrance on the west, 1.8m-2.4m wide, is flanked either wide by the ends of the ramparts brought round in a loop; and, whilst other entrances to the south and east are probably modem, that to the north might also be original.

There are a large number of hut circles within the ramparts, some of them joined together by short sections of straight wallingi there are also several larger enclosures which, to judge from their size, may have been sheepfolds.

To look north and north-east to the top of the Lammermuir ridge, to look east and south-east over the slightly lower Lammermuir plateau is to appreciate the attraction of these lands. Climate permitting, they are fine lands for stock grazing, for some arable and for settlement Some 10km south-south-east, for instance, stands the impressive ruinous settlement of Haerfaulds (NT 574500), 'ancient folds' in Anglian times, on open moorland steeply above the 'Blythe Water. An oval structure, some 116m by 73m, is surrounded by the remains of a massive stone wall at least 3m thick originally, and possibly timber-faced. Many circular stone hut circles abut the inner face of the wall, some are built in its tumble; these presumably represent local building developments and occupation in Romano-British time.

Forts, cairns, stone circles litter this landscape-with a standing stone by the side of the road just east of the Tollis Hill house. And what of the west side of the Leader Water?-forts at Bowerhouse (NT 490509) and Blackchester (NT 507504); a settlement at Trabrown (NT 504487); a much earlier though now barely distinguishable henge at Overhowden (NT 486522).

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

Note (19 January 2016 - 30 May 2016)

This fort stands on the rounded summit of Tollis Hill and though the ground falls away steeply to the Kelphope Burn on the W, it easily accessible from elsewhere. Nearly circular on plan, it measures about 100m in diameter from NE to SW by 95m transversely (0.72ha) within a rampart standing up to 3.5m in height above the bottom of its flanking ditch. A low counterscarp rampart can be seen around the NW half of the circuit and at a well preserved entrance on the W it returns around the terminals of the ditch to unite with the inner rampart; possible traces of a similar feature can also be seen at the entrance on the N, but in the opinion of Alexander Curle, who visited in 1908, James Hewat Craw, who drew up a plan about 1912 (RCAHMS 1909, 40, no.196; 1915, 119, no.223, fig 111), the gaps on the E and S had probably been broken through relatively recently. What may be a circular sheepfold lies on the N side of the interior, while scattered elsewhere are traces of four amorphous sunken areas up to 1m in depth and several adjacent circular stone-founded structures that are probably the remains of round-houses. Though the OS surveyor who visited in 1963 suggested these scoops may be no more than quarries, the presence of the round-houses implies that they are associated courts and yards.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 30 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC4011

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council

References

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