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Over Rig

Enclosure (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Over Rig

Classification Enclosure (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) River White Esk; Whiteyett

Canmore ID 67422

Site Number NY29SW 8

NGR NY 24556 93475

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Eskdalemuir
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NY29SW 8 24556 93475

(NY 2455 9345) Ancient Earthwork (NAT)

OS 6" map (1957)

This enclosure was presumably originally circular, but has been eroded away by the White Esk, almost to a semicircle, with a chord of 200' and a radius c. 85'. It is surrounded by an inner ditch 3' - 4' deep and 13' wide; a concentric rampart 5' high and 18' broad; and an outer ditch 3' deep and 15' wide, with a slight mound on the counterscarp. Towards the N for c. 60' the outer ditch appears to have been filled up. At a higher elevation, there passes around the enclosure a terrace 10' - 12' broad, changing to a ditch where it makes a return at either side towards the river.

The interior of the enclosure, which was excavated by Bell c. 1900-1, is higher than the exterior. He found that the subsoil was blue clay; logs had been laid on it to form a floor; the logs had decayed, but the bark remained. On top of this was paving on which c. 18" of peat had grown. Covering an area 40' in diameter in the centre of the enclosure was an 18" thick layer of rough stones, below which was a great quantity of minute fragments of cremated bone, none over 1" long, resting on a layer of charred wood mixed with the clay. The paving, charcoal and burnt bone are noted by the RCAHMS as exposed in the section made by the river erosion.

R Bell 1906; J and R Hyslop 1912; RCAHMS 1920, visited 1912.

These enigmatic earthworks are generally as described. The circular work is situated on the flood plain in a natural amphitheatre-like hollow while the outer work lies on the slopes above. Neither appears to have an entrance. While these earthworks are probably prehistoric, their form of construction and situation do not suggest a habitation site. The low-lying situation of the circular enclosure compares with that of the Girdlestanes (NY29NE 13) and the possibility exists that this is a funerary or religious monument.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (DWR) 31 October 1973

No change to previous field report.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (BS) 11 October 1978

(Listed among 'Miscellaneous enclosures'). This enclosure is situated at the foot of a steep-sided hollow 700m NE of Castle O'er fort (NY29SW 10); now roughly D-shaped on plan, it measures 52m by 20m internally. The chord is formed by the River White Esk and the arc by double ditches and a medial bank. On the NNE and SSW there are short stretches of outworks consisting of a bank and external ditch. There is no sign of an entrance and it is likely that the river has eroded part of the enclosure.

In 1901 Bell reported that trenching within the interior had revealed a layer of logs covered by cobbling; fragments of burnt bone were found.

RCAHMS 1980, visited June 1980.

Archaeological excavation by RJ Mercer was undertaken due to the perceived threat of erosion by the River White Esk. Geomorphological stu dies have suggested that erosion will not be a problem in the future. This led to attempts to determine the rates of change in the fluvial system, and the long-term (the past 2000 years) reconstruction of the behaviour of the incised menader at Over Rig. Radiocarbon dating of the most extensive Flandrian river terrace shows it to have formed around 2000 BP, that is the period of initial intensive occupation of the White Esk valley.

R Tipping 1989

Pollen analyses were undertaken through a 1.50m thick peat sequence growing within the inner ditch of the enclosure. The stratigraphic relationships indicated that this sequence accumulated throughout the historic period. Initially, correlations between the pollen record and the known documentary record for the area immediately around the site were made assuming a linear accumulation rate for peat growth; such correlations, particularly that between a major intensification of pastoralism and the takeover of the valley from an Anglo-Norman lord by Cistercian monks in the eleventh century, seemed particularly convincing. A series of five radiocarbon dates throughout the sequence, assayed by the SURRC laboratory under Dr G Cook, suggested that, instead, peat growth was extraordinarily rapid, and limited to a short period during Romano-British times. Several of the dates, however, pre-dated five closely-grouped radiocarbon dates from wood found in the primary infill of the ditch, and so are presumed in error. Additional dates on wood within the peat have not helped the interpretation, and a series of radiocarbon dates is currently in progress to investigate the hypothesis that severe contamination of the peat and wood samples by older carbon has occurred.

Part-funded by SDD, HBM.

R Tipping 1989

Listed as ceremonial enclosure. Finds recovered by excavation include glass bangles, whetstones, rotary quernstone, wooden scoop and two wooden dirks.

RCAHMS 1997.

Scheduled as 'Over Rig, renclosure 750m SSW of Whiteyett... the upstanding remains of a late prehistoric multi-vallate enclosure situated within a natural bowl-shaped depression... 750m SSW of Whiteyett.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 15 March 2010.

Enclosure [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, April 2010.


Field Visit (15 July 1955)

Enclosure, Over Rig (Inv. 175).

This is probably nothing more than a cattle enclosure.

Visited by RCAHMS (KS) 15 July 1955


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