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Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Stuartslaw

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 59686

Site Number NT85NE 8

NGR NT 86360 55360

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Edrom
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Berwickshire
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT85NE 8 NT 86360 55360

(NT 8636 5536) Earthwork (NR) (site of)

Os 25"map, (1972).

Some 750 yds W of Stuartslaw is the site of a fort called Chesterknowes. The site is on a knoll at the bend of the Whiteadder Water, opposite Ninewells House. No traces of the fortifications remain.

RCAHMS 1915.

Carr refers to 'the considerable Roman encampment in the Merse' at Chesterknowes. It was of oblong rectangular form, extending E-W along the river and defended by a triple line of ramparts. Athough completely levelled in 1836, it was fairly entire in 1765 when seen by Dr Anderson (Statistical Account [OSA] 1795).

A A Carr 1836.

Situated in a loop of the Whiteadder Water at the E end of an arable field, the cropmarks of two possible ramparts are visible on aerial photographs. (Visible on RAF air photographs 106G/Scot/UK9: 7261). They enclose a roughly D-shaped area measuring 130.0m N-S by at least 170.0m transversely although no trace can be seen at the W end, which is overlooked by higher ground. There is nothing to be seen at this site, which is now under the plough.

The shape and position of the site appears to suggest an earthwork or settlement of possible Iron Age date, but does not suggest Roman origin. No finds have been made and the name could not be confirmed.

Site (centred NT 8636 5536) surveyed at 1:2500 from aerial photographs.

Visited by OS(RD) 23 February 1971.

Nothing is visible of this fort. Faint cropmarks possibly indicate double ditches on the N.

RCAHMS 1980.


Note (9 February 2016 - 8 September 2016)

In 1795 the minister of Chirnside, the Rev Walter Anderson, reported in the parish entry in the Statistical Account that an extensive earthwork had stood on the south bank of the Whiteadder Water on the Allanbank estate at 'Chester-knows' (Stat Acct, xiv, 1795, 32-3n). Subsequently located by Alexander Carr (1836, 14) as 'nearly opposite the modern mansion-house of Ninewells', it was placed by James Hewat Craw '750 yards west of Stuartslaw', though the direction must be east (RCAHMS 1915, 85, no.156). And it is here that the OS noted possible traces of two 'ramparts' on vertical aerial photographs enclosing a D-shaped area measuring 170m from E to W by 130m transversely, low down in a meander of the river (NT 8636 5536). Unfortunately Anderson's description, quoted in full below, is cryptic to the modern ear, but is more likely describing the E end of the spur of higher ground extending E from Stuartslaw (NT 8614 5536), where a steep escarpment drops down to the S bank of the Whiteadder Water on the N and the topography forms a much more likely location for a fort. Anderson evidently considered himself an antiquary and provides considerable detail: 'Mounds of earth, in signal elevation, and evidently artificial, appeared to the eye at a considerable distance. On a nearer view, the ground occupied by them, rising towards Whiteadder-bank, facing north, and almost perpendicular, discovered it well chosen for defence, on that quarter; while a double, or triple line of ramparts, secured it upon its declivity, and where it was accessible. They run E. and W., and in a straight direction. There appeared to be vestiges of two other lines, although much sunk, and then partly invaded by the plough, which run from the extremities of the former towards the bank of the water. The whole entrenchment forming a square, but here properly made oblong, on account of its contiguity to the Whiteadder...' (Stat Acct, xiv, 1795, 32-3n). His 'Whiteadder-bank, facing north, and almost perpendicular' is almost certainly the steep escarpment E of Stuartslaw, with a bivallate or trivallate scheme defending the gentler slopes on the E, S and W.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 08 September 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC4082

Sbc Note

Visibility: This site is visible as a cropmark.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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