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Drem, The Chesters

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Drem, The Chesters

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 56280

Site Number NT57NW 1

NGR NT 50760 78260

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/56280

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council East Lothian
  • Parish Athelstaneford
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District East Lothian
  • Former County East Lothian

Archaeology Notes

NT57NW 1 50760 78260

For nearby pit-alignments, see:

NT57NW 47 NT 504 781

NT57NW 49 NT 5098 7831 to NT 5096 7876

NT57NW 51 NT 505 783 to NT 509 784

NT57NW 65 NT 506 782 to NT 509 784

NT57NW 114 NT c. 5098 7833 to c. 5105 7886

(NT 5076 7826) The Chesters (NAT) Fort (NR)

(Unspecified) OS map.

Although on plan The Chesters would seem to belong among the larger and better preserved hill-forts in the country, it stands on a very low ridge immediately under the lee of a precipitous scarp 50' high from which missiles could easily be directed into the interior.

Apart from this anomaly, the fort represents a type of multivallate work, the innermost defended zone of which is bordered by a whole series of ramparts and ditches, and there is reason to believe that the existing visible remains may represent parts of more than one phase of construction. The innermost enclosure measures 380' by 150' within a ruinous rampart appearing for the most part as a mere scarp. This is surrounded by another rampart, and thereafter by traces of up to six others. The external measurement of the whole structure is 900' by 500'. (See RCAHMS 1924 plan, fig.47).

The interior contains the surface traces of several circular stony foundations which vary in size. Certain of them overlie the ruined defences, an indication that they represent a period of occupation subsequent to the time when the ramparts were in use and probably dating from the 2nd or later centuries AD.

R W Feachem 1963; RCAHMS 1924, visited 1914.

A multivallate fort as described. The two inner ramparts have a maximum height of 5.0m where best preserved on the NW. The outer ramparts survive to a height of 3.5m.

Visited by OS (BS) 22 July 1975.

Work has begun on removing Second World War constructions from the monument. They consist of an observation post and several gun-emplacements. In removing the former, which was situated in the centre of the fort, vestigial traces of two walls appeared which might pertain to the hut circle marked at this spot by the RCAHMS prior to the erection of the post. No attempt, however, was made to excavate any more than necessary. The removal of one of the gun-emplacements, situated on top of the inner rampart on the N side of the E entrance to the fort, gave an opportunity of examining the partial section through the rampart. There was no sign of revetting within the bank and no tip lines were visible. There were no finds of any importance.

M J Yates 1976.

Activities

Field Visit (30 October 1956)

Fort, The Chesters, Drem (Inv. No. 13).

The hut circles are definately later than the fortifications since those round the perimeter impinge upon the inner rampart of the fort as shown on the plan. Otherwise, the description given in the Inventory is adequate.

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 30 October 1956.

Publication Account (1985)

Through this fort occupies the greater part of a long, oval hillock, it is relatively low-lying and overlooked by a higher ridge from which missiles could easily have been launched. Vulnerability would not have mattered perhaps in its earlier periods of occupation; gradually, however, fortifications were extended providing a most elaborate system of stone and earth ramparts. Was it simply a case of a wealthy community wanting to impress? Or to present an illusion of strength to would-be attackers?

Two ramparts entirely encircle the site; to the north there are a further three lines of banking, spanning 55m. A series of five earthworks stretches across the west end, with a further series to the east, and these may have been intended specifically to protect the entrances at the north-west and east of the fort.

The enclosed area measures some 119m by 49m, within inner ramparts still standing to over 2m high. Inside, there are traces of the foundations of maybe 20 or 30 mainly circular stone buildings varying in size from 4.25m to 12m diameter but apparently ranged around the sides in roughly regular rows. Some overlie the ramparts, thus suggesting a period of occupation from the 2nd century AD or later.

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

Ground Survey (August 2010)

NT 50760 78260 As part of ongoing research into East Lothian hillforts a topographic and erosion survey was undertaken in August 2010. The survey was carried out by volunteers and students following a programme of gorse removal. The initial results of the survey indicate that, while the site has suffered from rabbit burrowing and stock pressure in the past, it is currently stabilising and recovering. The topographic survey of the upper enclosed area has created an accurate plan of the interior, plotted the locations of WW2 installations removed

in the 1970s and located a possible new entrance to the N.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and Rampart Scotland

David Connolly and Murray Cook – Rampart Scotland

Geophysical Survey (August 2011)

NT 50760 78260 As part of ongoing research into East Lothian hillforts further topographic, erosion and limited geophysical survey was undertaken in August 2011. The survey was carried out by volunteers and the EAFS. The geophysical survey was carried out to the E of the main site and in the courtyard of the 16th- to 17th-century farm buildings to the NE. The survey recorded clearly visible banks and ditches, and located and characterised structures on the summit.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and Rampart Scotland

Rampart Scotland 2011

Field Visit (September 2012 - November 2012)

NT 50760 78260 As part of ongoing research into East Lothian hillforts further topographic and erosion survey was undertaken between September and November 2012.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Rampart Scotland

David Connolly, Rampart Scotland

Murray Cook,

2012

Geophysical Survey (2012)

NT 504 782 – NT 506 784 (approx) The Chesters, Drem (SAM 90072) is one of the best preserved Iron Age hillforts in Scotland and is protected both by scheduling and as a PIC. However, the upstanding remains form just one element of an extensive Iron Age landscape evidenced by cropmarks identified through many years of aerial survey. Most notably, these comprise an extensive series of pit alignments which appear to reflect a cohesive system of land division potentially extending up to 5km2, and reaching as far as neighbouring hillforts at Kae Heughs (NT57NW 23) and Hanging Craig (NT57NW 89). Our project involves geophysical evaluation of these landscapes using a range of integrated and complementary techniques including standard fluxgate gradiometry and earth resistance survey. We also trialled two novel techniques currently under development and not previously used to any extent in Scotland: electrical resistivity tomography and electromagnetic survey. Gradiometry was used as the baseline technique to recover broad scale information and give wide coverage across the sites, with other techniques being used in targeted areas based on initial results and detailed field inspection.

Results from work in September 2012 were generally positive and identified the cropmark features in most areas. Several new features have been identified, including at least one probable barrow, but more significant perhaps is the new data retrieved relating to the micro-topography of the pit alignment systems and the detailed relationships between these archaeological features and the local geology.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended). Reports: East Lothian SMR and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Ian Armit, University of Bradford

Chris Gaffney,

Tom Sparrow,

Finn Pope-Carter,

2012

Field Visit (September 2013 - November 2013)

NT 50760 78260 As part of ongoing research into East Lothian hillforts, further topographic and erosion survey was undertaken, September – November 2013. The site is stable; however, gorse regrowth is ongoing.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Rampart Scotland

David Connolly and Murray Cook, Rampart Scotland, 2013

(Source: DES)

Field Visit (March 2014 - July 2014)

NT 50760 78260 As part of ongoing research into East Lothian hillforts, further topographic, erosion and limited geophysical survey was undertaken, March – July 2014. The work was undertaken with volunteers and students as part of a series of training sessions.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and Rampart Scotland

David Connolly and Murray Cook – Rampart Scotland

(Source: DES)

References

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