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Southdean Law

Fort (Prehistoric), Settlement (Prehistoric)

Site Name Southdean Law

Classification Fort (Prehistoric), Settlement (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 56826

Site Number NT60NW 2

NGR NT 6350 0938

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Southdean
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Roxburgh
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT60NW 2 6350 0938.

(NT 6350 0938) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1964).

On the western summit ridge of Southdean Law is a complex group of remains comprising:

(i) a pear-shaped, bivallate, Early Iron Age fort, settlement (R W Feachem 1965) with double ramparts (IA, IB on RCAHMS plan, fig.564).

It is pear-shaped, and measures internally by to 290' NE-SW by 150'. The NE half of the interior of the fort and the same sector of the ramparts have been overlain by;

(ii) an open settlement of stone-walled houses which can presumably be dated to the second, third, or fourth centuries AD (R W Feachem 1965). (iii) A field boundary (III on plan) is probably contemporary with the recent rig cultivation which covers the remainder of the hill.

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1947; R W Feachem 1963.

This fort and later settlement is as described above.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 14 February 1967.

A fort and settlement as described by RCAHM.

Visited by OS (BS) 21 September 1976.


Field Visit (11 December 1992)

This fort and settlement occupies the summit of Southdean Law, which is situated at the W end of a ridge that runs ESE in the direction of Southdeanrig. The hill slopes around the site are covered with the fragmentary remains of a field-system, lynchets and rig, which have been somewhat reduced in recent years by cultivation (see NT60NW 11). The fort has three phases; the first phase is a pear-shaped enclosure on the summit of the Law, to which in the second phase an annex was added on the NE and around both of which are the outer ramparts. The ramparts are largely reduced to scarps with occasional facing-stones. A settlement occupies the NE side of the fort, overlying much of the NE annex, and impinging on the defences of all three phases.

In its primary phase, the fort measures 49.5m from NNE to SSW by 32m transversely within rubble-faced ramparts some 2.5m in thickness, with a gap which may be the entrance, piercing its NNE side. The annex extends some 36m to the NE within a rampart 2m in thickness and up to 0.8m in height, but splaying to 2.5m in thickness where it has been cut through for an entrance, partly lined with stones, on the ESE. The outer ramparts, some 2m in thickness, encompass the site on a lower terrace some 10m to 15m further out. On the N and S sides stony banks, which form part of the field-systems on the slopes of the Law, run up to the outer ramparts (see NT60NW 11).

The reduced remains of 11 houses and several enclosures are scattered across the NE part of the fort, obliterating in places the ramparts of the annex: two of them are circular platforms cut into the slope, but the others are stone-walled round houses or hut-circles, often severely robbed. The two platforms are located together on the NW side of the annex and measure 7m and 7.5m in diameter by 0.5m and 0.7m in depth respectively, the latter with traces of what may be a revetment visible at the back (ROX92 99).

The stone-walled houses range from 4.5m to 8m in diameter within walls between 1m and 1.7m in thickness and up to 0.4m in height. However there are two groupings within this range with five of the houses meeasuring about 4.5m in diameter and the other four ranging between 5.8m and 8m in diameter. (ROX92 91-101, 105)

Visited by RCAHMS (PJD) 11 December 1992.

Note (26 August 2015 - 18 October 2016)

This fort occupies the western of the two summits that make up the top of Southdean Law. Pear-shaped on plan, it measures about 88m from NE to SW by up to 46m transversely (0.32ha) within two ramparts up to 12m apart. Both ramparts are reduced to scarps, the outer studded with intermittent outer facing stones on the SW quarter, and have been largely obliterated on the NE by an overlying late Iron Age settlement comprising up to twelve stone-founded round-houses and platforms with a series of scooped courts and enclosures. Probably reusing the entrance into the fort on the E, the SW side of this settlement is bounded by a bank that cuts across the interior of the fort from NE to SW, and may even be the remains of an independent enclosure taking in the summit.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 October 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3362

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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