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Moat Knowe, Buchtrig

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Moat Knowe, Buchtrig

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 58078

Site Number NT71SE 24

NGR NT 7784 1364

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT71SE 24 7784 1364.

(NT 7784 1364) Fort (NR)

OS 6"map, (1962).

A nuclear fort (c/f Dunadd: NR89SW 1; and Dundurn: NN72SW 3) occupies the central plateau and the N and S slopes of Moat Knowe, a small isolated hill. Measuring overall 490' N-S by 183', it is surrounded by a wall, 7'- 8' thick and is divided internally by similar walls into five courts which are linked by a through road on their W sides. All the walls were originally of stone-faced rubble construction, but only a few facing stones survive, one course high, as indicated on RCAHMS 1956 plan, fig.196. Court 'G', the largest, 155' N-S by 167', encloses the central plateau. The interior falls 30' from E to W in a series of four artificial terraces separated by low, rocky scarps. The lowest of these terraces is partly occupied by a through road, but the other three may have served as platforms for buildings though no traces of these can now be seen on the surface. Courts 'E' and 'F' are on the N slope of the hill. The ground within 'F' is generally too steep for dwellings, but on a narrow terrace against its N wall there are two faint hollows which may represent hut floors. Court 'E' is featureless. Courts 'H' and 'J' are on the S slope of the hill. The lower portion of 'H' has been terraced, while on the E side there are two semicircular scoops which again may indicate hut floors. The only remains in 'J' are a number of slabs, apparently the remains of a continuous wall designed to cut off 'J' from the through road.

There are two entrances, situated respectively at the N and S ends and connected by the through road.

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1946.

A nuclear fort as described. Although no huts are visible, there are at leat six platforms capable of supporting either circular or rectangular structures.

Visited by OS(WDJ) 7 September 1960 and (DWR) 25 July 1973.

No change to previous information.

Visited by OS(BS) 1 September 1976.


Field Visit (5 October 1999)

NT71SE 24

Moat Knowe

Fort; Buildings

NT 77817 13636

This site was recorded as part of the Kale Water Survey project and is largely as described previously on the date of visit. Additionally, there are the footings of at least two rectangular buildings within Moat Knowe fort, both standing within one of the terraced courts (RCAHMS 1956, fig. 196 ‘H’). The better preserved of the two buildings (NT 77850 13605) measures 6.6m from E to W by 3.4m transversely within turf and stone banks 0.2m in height by 0.8m thick. Lying immediately to the W are traces of a second, smaller building, possibly a hut.

(KALE99 415)

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 5 October 1999, with additional information from RCAHMS (BM) 12 June 2012


Note (9 September 2015 - 7 September 2016)

The Moat Knowe is a steep-sided hillock that rises sharply out of the floor of the valley SE of Buchtrig. It is occupied by a fortification that conforms to the character of a so-called nuclear fort, comprising a citadel with a series of outer courts. In the case of the Moat Knowe, the citadel and the courts appear to form a single conception, with a single wall running the length of the W side, not only forming one side of the citadel and each of the four courts, but flanking the upper ends of the entrance trackways that mount the slopes on the N and S respectively to curl in through entrances into the lowest court at each end. The citadel is roughly trapezoidal on plan, measuring a maximum of 50m from N to S by 45m transversely (0.2ha) within a wall up to 2.4m in thickness, and its interior steps down from the rocky summit on the E in four artificial terraces, which have probably provided the foundation for tiers of building; while the shape of the building is unclear on the ground, aerial photographs give a strong impression that some were rectangular. Two outer courts step down the slope to either side of the citadel, each party wall stopping short of the W side to allow access from the entrances up to the summit. The upper one on the S has several scooped platforms, while in the lower a line of stones separates the roadway from the rest of the court. By comparison the upper court on the N is much steeper and only has two small scoops on its lower side, while the outer below it is featureless. The entrances are arranged slightly differently to each other; whereas the terraced trackway on the N approaches the gap obliquely to expose the visitor's left side below the wall, on the S, where the approach is more direct, it is the visitor's right side that is exposed.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 07 September 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC3411

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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