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Chester Hill

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Chester Hill

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Greystonelees

Canmore ID 60178

Site Number NT96SE 1

NGR NT 9526 6018

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NT96SE 1 9526 6018

See also NT96SE 4.

(NT 9526 6018) Fort (NR)

OS 6" map, (1970).

Hill Fort, Chester Hill: This fort (listed by Craw) measures some 408ft by 228ft, bounded by a broad earthen rampart and ditch to the S and E, and by a steep natural slope to the N. The rampart is about 6ft high above the bottom of the ditch, and it measures 70ft from its crest to the top of the counterscarp. The entrance is in the SE. The site has been frequently ploughed, and the defences have been much destroyed, except towards the SW.

A large annexe, measuring some 297ft by 243ft, has been formed against the E end of the fort; it has been defended by a double rampart slighter than that of the main enclosure. The entrance to the annexe is also in the SE (see RCAHMS 1915 plan, fig.2).

RCAHMS 1915, visited 1908; J H Craw 1921.

A two-phase fort on the edge of a prominent escarpment overlooking the coast. The westernmost fort comprises a broad spread earthen mound and outer ditch; the ditch is 5.0m wide and the counterscarp 0.6m high. The eastern fort, which is obviously the earlier phase, has a low, spread rampart, 15.0m broad and 0.5m high; most of it has been destroyed. The outer rampart is definable only by a low, broad swelling in the ground. The whole site has been considerably ploughed over. This fort closely resembles the twin forts of Earn's Heugh (NT86NE 8), although the number of ramparts differs, and is thus possibly of the same period.

Visited by OS (JLD) 2 November 1954.

Generally as described in the previous field report, although the site has been ploughed down further.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 25 January 1966.

This monument has been interpreted by the Society of Antiquaries surveyors (who list it among 'Earthwork Fortifications') as an earthwork and annexe, similar to the [earlier] RCAHMS interpretation.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1979.


Field Visit (3 August 1908)

10. Hill Fort, Chester Hill, Greystonelees.

On the summit of Chester Hill, at an elevation of about 560 feet above sea-level and some ¾ mile south of Burnmouth railway station, are the remains of a fortified enclosure (fig. 2 [DP 229121]). It is crescentic in form, resting on the edge of a steep slope to the northward and contained within a broad rampart and ditch. The greatest length is some 408 feet, and the breadth 228 feet. The rampart, which appears to be of earth, is still in places about 6 feet high above the bottom of the ditch, and the distance from its crest to the top of the counters carp measures70 feet. The entrance has been at the south-east. The site has been frequently ploughed over, and the defences, except towards the southwest, are much destroyed. A large annex measuring some 297 feet in length by 243 feet in breadth has been formed against the eastern end of the fort, and has been defended by a double rampart slighter than that of the main enclosure, with an intervening trench.

RCAHMS 1915, visited 3 August 1908.

OS Map: Ber., xii. NW

Note (19 February 2016 - 20 October 2016)

This fort occupies gently shelving ground dropping into a steep escarpment on the NE, which cuts back on the NW to create a shallow promontory. The defences comprise a single massive rampart and ditch, drawn in an arc to block access from the SW and SE, while a probable annexe defended by twin ramparts with a medial ditch extends to the SE, again exploiting the lip of the escarpment. Despite having been cultivated, the rampart of the main enclosure forms a massive bank spread 12m in thickness and 1.5m in internal height, rising 1.8m above the bottom of the adjacent ditch, which measures up to 13.5m in breadth. The only features visible within the interior, which measures 85m from NW to SE by 66m transversely (0.5ha), are a shallow internal quarry scoop behind the rampart and a later field-bank extending along the lip of the escarpment. A gap on the SE is probably the entrance and opens into the annexe, which measures internally 69m from NW to SE by 65m transversely (0.45ha). Its defences are almost as massive, the internal rampart spread 10m in thickness and rising 1.5m in height above the bottom of the medial ditch, which is itself some 10m in breadth; a gap on the SE is probably the entrance and the interior is featureless. The junction of the annexe and the major enclosure is too degraded to be able to show without excavation whether the annexe is either an addition or even possibly an earlier perimeter.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 20 October 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC4130

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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