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Hanging Craig

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Hanging Craig

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Seaton Law

Canmore ID 56370

Site Number NT57NW 89

NGR NT 53048 76711

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT57NW 89 NT 53048 76711

An important native fort with overall measurements of 630' by 250' on the summit of Seaton Law. Air photographs (RAF/CPE/Scot/UK257: 3085) show four ditches, the innermost of which encloses the S, E and W sides of a round-cornered rectangular area 300' E-W by 140'. The N side is formed by the edge of a steep escarpment, 150' high, and it seems probable that any defences which may have existed on this side will have been destroyed long ago by erosion of the cliff face. The other three ditches run in series and form a triple defence, curvilinear on plan, which envelopes the inner enclosure on all sides except the N. A wide entrance through all four ditches can be seen at the E end of the fort.


The cropmarks of a multi-vallate fort enclosing an area on the edge of a steep drop called Hanging Craig 130m NE of The Vaults (NT57NW 27) have been revealed by aerial photography. As many as seven ditches, some of which may be palisades, are visible defining a total area of approximately 210m E to W by 75m transversely. The inner two ditches enclose a sub-rectilinear area measuring about 70m by 28m whilst the outer ditches describe an oval shape. The entrance is on the E and the ditch terminals are about 8m apart. Faint markings may indicate the presence of a timber round-house within the fort interior. A second fort on Seaton Law has been recorded 160m to the SE (NT57NW 24).

Information from RCAHMS (KB) 17 December 1999


Aerial Photographic Interpretation (1 June 1954)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Marginal Land Survey (1950-1962), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, are available to view online - see the searchable PDF in 'Digital Items'. These vary from short notes, to lengthy and full descriptions. Contemporary plane-table surveys and inked drawings, where available, can be viewed online in most cases - see 'Digital Images'. The original typecripts, notebooks and drawings can also be viewed in the RCAHMS search room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 19 July 2013.

Reference (1957)

This site is noted in the ‘List of monuments discovered during the survey of marginal land (1951-5)’ (RCAHMS 1957, xiv-xviii). The 286 monuments were listed by county, parish, classification and name, and the list included an indication of whether they had been planned (P), whether they were visible only as a cropmark (C), and whether they were worthy of preservation (*).

Drawings are catalogued to individual site records. Investigator's notebooks are availiable in the MS collection. Site descriptions are availiable in contemporary RCAHMS inventories, or in three typescript volumes availiable in the library.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 24 October 2012

Note (16 December 2015 - 18 May 2016)

This fort, which is known only from cropmarkings, is situated on the N margin of the broad spur that terminates in Seaton Law, and exploits the steep and craggy slope known as Hanging Craig dropping away to the Cogtail Burn on the N. As revealed by the cropmarks, the fort is D-shaped on plan, backing onto the lip of the slope above the burn, and measures internally about 150m from ENE to WSW along the chord by about 75m transversely (0.95ha); making some allowance for the presence of a rampart, the interior probably extends to about 0.84ha, and is occupied largely by a probable rectilinear settlement enclosure, though only S the side of the latter and the adjacent angles can be seen with any clarity. The defences of the fort comprise at least four ditches, though again none is clearly defined, varying in breadth from 3m or 4m down to the faintest of traces. The inner two seem to be concentric about 5m apart and are broken by at least one entrance on the ENE and possibly by a second on the WSW. The third ditch, which is also the broadest, is also roughly concentric, but appears to splay a little wider at either end, and these features may indicate that it was once a free-standing enclosure; if so, its interior was in the order of 1.3ha. An intermittent outer ditch lies on the SE quarter, with possibly two shadowy lines beyond it, while another faint line immediately within the third ditch on the SW is possibly a palisade trench. Probable entrances through the third ditch lie on the ENE, S and W; at the last only the S ditch terminal is visible, but the butt end and the inner lip have apparently been drawn out into an elongated point, probably to narrow the inner end of the causeway.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3875


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