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Whitmuirhaugh, Sprouston

Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Whitmuirhaugh, Sprouston

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 58328

Site Number NT73NE 22

NGR NT 758 362

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

Cropmarks recorded on aerial photographs reveal a complex and extensive palimpsest of ploughed-down features at Sprouston, approximately one kilometre north of the modern village.

These features include what may be an oval fort protected by two rings of palisades, or stockades, of Iron Age or Early Historic date. A system of long fields, bounded by ditches, may be associated with this settlement.

Other features revealed as cropmarks include those of a large and important Anglian settlement, perhaps dating from the seventh century AD. This settlement may have comprised a large subrectangular palisaded enclosure, substantial rectangular timber halls and smaller rectangular buildings with sunken floors. There is also an ordered cemetery of at least 380 graves and what may be an adjacent church.

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project

Archaeology Notes

NT73NE 22.00 758 362.

NT73NE 22.01 7571 3609 Fort; Causewayed Enclosure (possible); Flints

NT73NE 22.02 7581 3599 Barrow; Building (possible); Mortuary Enclosure (possible); Timber Hall (possible)

For enclosure at NT 760 357, see NT73NE 23.

(Location cited as NT 758 362). Dark Age settlement, Sprouston, Roxburghs. Crop marks of timber halls, cemetery, etc.

CUCAP imagery:

AKC 24-9, flown 22 July 1964

BEE 33-4 and K 17 W 165-6, flown 2 August 1970

BFZ 66-75, flown 8 July 1971

BHC 65-76 and K 17 Y 234-6, flown 1 August 1971

BJV 50-5, flown 19 July 1972

BJY 47-53, flown 20 July 1972

BKC 70-2, flown 26 July 1972

70H-Z 4-6, flown 17 July 1974

BQN 1-3, flown 20 July 1974

BQY 96-7 and BQZ 2-3, flown 31 July 1974

BUQ 66-7, flown 19 July 1975

CCE 5-8, flown 6 May 1977

CDS 31-4, flown 30 July 1977

[Undated] information in NMRS, CUCAP card index.

NT 758 362: Dark Age Settlement, Whitmuirhaugh: A complex site is revealed at Whitmuirhaugh by cropmarks on aerial photographs taken over a number of years by the RCAHMS and by Dr St Joseph (see N Reynolds plan). From the wide ditch of a promontory fort [see NT73NE 22.01], which cuts off the 30m contour overlooking the River Tweed, there extends a large complex of enclosures and ditches, in the centre of which lie several rectangular buildings, at least two of them with annexes at each end, closely comparable with the Anglo-Saxon hall at Yeavering in Northumberland. To the SE there lies what appears to be a cemetery; the outline of nearly every grave can be seen on some of the aerial photographs.

N Reynolds 1980.

'Air photographs have revealed, adjacent to the present farm buildings, a timber building with 'V' gable ends [see NT73NE 22.02], which both in form and size is similar to the neolithic timber hall at Balbridie, Kincardine.

Fieldwork confirmed that the promontory fort to the N of the farm is multi-vallate. Finds retrieved during systemic fieldwalking of the area include large numbers of flint and chert scrapers, pottery, bone and iron objects.'

See NT73NE 22.02.

I M Smith 1981.


Note (3 April 2017)

The palimpsest of cropmarks on a terrace above the S bank of the River Tweed at Sprouston includes a curious earthwork that has been variously interpreted as a ploughed out promontory fort or a Neolithic causewayed enclosure (Smith 1991, 266; Reynolds 1980, 50; St Joseph 1982, 192). The clue to this divergence of opinion lies in the character of the ditch revealed by the cropmarks, which is broken into at least five segments of varying lengths by both narrow and broad causeways. The broadest of the segments is up to 6m across, and they are strung out in a shallow arc to form a D-shaped enclosure backing onto the bluff above the river, enclosing an area measuring up to 180m fro NW to SE along the chord by 80m transversely (1ha). Field-walking by Ian Smith recovered scatters of flint artefacts from this area, which is slightly elevated above the rest of the field and bounded on the SE by a shallow gully, while the cropmarks elsewhere include a cluster of rectangular buildings probably of early medieval date and a burial-ground, but these have little bearing on the date or purpose of the earthwork. No causewayed enclosure has been confirmed by excavation this far north, and a more conventional explanation of the causewayed ditch might be an unfinished perimeter; there are certainly several other large earthwork enclosure backing onto the Tweed in Berwickshire, and an Iron Age context is perhaps a more likely interpretation until proved otherwise.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 03 April 2017. Atlas of Hillforts -SC3427.html

Sbc Note

Visibility: This site is visible as a cropmark.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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