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Greenbrough Hill

Palisaded Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Greenbrough Hill

Classification Palisaded Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Sundhope Kipp

Canmore ID 59056

Site Number NT81NW 33

NGR NT 8129 1692

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

NT81NW 33 8129 1692

See also NT81NW 34 and NT81NW 67.

(NT 8129 1692) Homestead (NR)

In rough pasture on the SE side of the summit of Greenbrough Hill, there is a homestead consisting of two huts, one circular and the other oval, contained within a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 95' NE-SW by 75'. The enclosure is defined by a slight trench, 18" wide and not more than 6" deep which may be assumed to have held a wooden palisade, with an entrance 7' wide in the centre of the NE side. Both the huts are also outlined by shallow trenches and were presumably constructed in a similar manner to those on Hayhope Knowe. The larger hut, in the centre of the enclosure, measures 25' in diameter internally and has two gaps, either of which may represent the original entrance, while the other hut measures 22'6" by 20', and has an entrance in the N side.

Palisaded homesteads were built in the first millenium BC, and well established in the 6th century BC. It is not known how long they continued to be built or occupied. (A Ritchie 1970; J N G Ritchie and A Ritchie 1972).

RCAHMS 1956, visited 1949.

As described above.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 1 September 1960.

No change.

Visited by OS (TRG) 9 September 1976.

At a height of about 380m OD on the SE of the summit of Greenbrough Hill overlooking the Heatherhope Burn on the W, there is a palisaded settlement containing two clearly defined ring-ditch houses. Very steep slopes fall away on all but the E side where a narrow neck links the spur to the rising ground of the watershed.

The settlement measures 28m from NE to SW by 23.5m within a sharply-defined single palisade-trench up to 0.6m wide and 0.15m deep. This feature is particularly well-preserved enabling several important observations about its character to be made. Its irregular layout suggests that the palisade was built is a series of panels, about 4m in length, probably bounded by horizontal tie-beams.

In contrast to other palisadaed enclosures (eg Shoulder Hill, Fassett Hill and Hayhope Knowe) observed in the Bowmont Valley (and indeed at Blackborough Hill) which are severely ovoid on plan and in several cases display parallel double trenches, Greenbrough Hill comprises a single, subrectangular, palisade-trench with evidence of swelling for substantial 'straining posts' at the N, E and W corners.

The digging of a narrow and relatively shallow palisade-trench produced only a limited quantity of overburden which was neatly stacked along the outer perimeter of the trench. This diminutive 'stack', measuring no more than 0.1m in height, is clearly visible along the outside of the N half of the enclosure, and again as a short stretch on the SW side. The only gate, midway along the NE side, facing onto the neck of the spur, is flanked by two massive jambs, clearly visible as expansions of the palisade at the terminals with a pair of free-standing post-holes on the interior. The 2m wide entrance passage is slightly sunken, suggesting regular repeated use, and leads directly from the gate towards the entrance of the principal house in the interior. This ring-ditch house is almost centrally placed to the enclosure and comprises a central platform measuring 7.8m from N to S by 7.5m with a medial ditch, 0.8m wide, except on the W where it expands to 1.5m in width. There are perhaps suggestions of post-holes, expanding in diameter towards the W, visible along the SE arc of the ditch. The ditch is, in turn, bounded externally by a 1m wide external bank. The entrance lies on the NE and is flanked by the out-turn of the external bank terminals. Outwith this house, a very low spur wall leads NE from the E side of the house, perhaps forming an internal division of the enclosure. The second ring-ditch house is smaller and distorted in plan to fit within the gap available between the centrally-placed house and the palisade. It is, therefore, probably contemporary with the occupation of the enclosure and is possibly secondary to the centrally-placed house. This house comprises a central platform measuring 5.9m from NW to SE by 5.7m where it has been flattened on the NE. The platform lies within a shallow ditch , averaging 1m in width, again flattened on the NE. An external bank is visible only in the angle of the S corner of the palisade-trench. The entrance may lie on the N side where the ditch is very faint. The only other visible feature in the interior is a low subrectangular mound, measuring 5m from NE to SW by 4min diameter, set against the palisade-trench in the NW part of the enclosure. Between the mound and the N corner of the palisade slot, a marked change of vegetation was observed.

Intermittent traces of cord rig are visible over the hilltop for some 200m from E to W by 70m, extending E from the N corner of the palisaded settlement. That these ephemeral traces of cultivation and the settlement are contemporary is suggested by the well-preserved nature of the palisade slot, particularly on the NE where the external 'stack' is best preserved.

Information from RJ Mercer (University of Edinburgh) April 1985, 1986



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