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Pit Alignment(S) (Prehistoric), Pit Defined Cursus (Neolithic), Ring Ditch(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Holm

Classification Pit Alignment(S) (Prehistoric), Pit Defined Cursus (Neolithic), Ring Ditch(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Holm Farm

Canmore ID 75173

Site Number NX98SE 86

NGR NX 95960 80380

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Holywood
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Nithsdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NX98SE 86 95960 80380

What may be the cropmarks of a pit-defined cursus were revealed by aerial photography in 1992 to the NW of Holm farm, together with two ring-ditches, a pit-alignment, a double pit-alignment and a series of pits. The features lie on fairly level ground at the SE end of a ridge in the corner of a field about 75m to the NW of the steading. The cursus is defined by two roughly parallel rows of pits about 12m apart which extend for a distance of at least 85m from NNW to SSE. No terminals are visible, although two internal pits towards the NW end of the rows may indicate a possible transverse division. It is plotted as a cursus monument on a distribution map of Neolithic monuments covering southern Scotland (RCAHMS 1997, 115, fig. 110).

The double pit-alignment comprises two parallel rows of pits set about 4m apart and running for a distance of 54m from NW to SE. The pits appear to be arranged in opposed pairs which are more closely-spaced towards the NW end. As such the setting is comparable to that recorded at Dalswinton Roads (for which, see NX98SW 47). The two ring-ditches are poorly defined but measure about 8m in diameter.

Information from RCAHMS (ARG), 7 April 1998

NX 959 803 During July 1998 excavation was undertaken of a cropmark site at Holm Farm, on a gravel terrace overlooking the River Nith. The site lies c 1km E of the two cursus monuments at Holywood, investigated in 1997 (see below). Seen from the air, the Holm complex appeared to consist of a series of interconnected alignments of cut features. Two parallel rows of features appeared to be closed by a further transverse line of features, and had consequently been tentatively identified as a pit-defined cursus, of Neolithic date.

In practice, these were found to represent two lines of large post-holes, with a third line running parallel to them. These posts had been burned and replaced on a number of occasions. The lines of posts crossed the path of a double alignment of pits, one pit having cut into the top of a post-hole which was clearly earlier in date. The post-lines ran SE toward a ring-ditch, which was visible from the air. On excavation the ring-ditch proved to have been preceded by a post-circle and another ring-ditch. The ring-ditch itself both cut through and was cut by post-holes of the S post-alignment, demonstrating its broad contemporaneity with the post-structures.

Few artefacts were recovered from the site, but structural similarity with the Holywood North cursus suggests a Neolithic date for the Holm complex. The pattern of recutting in the post-holes was not uniform, and it is not certain that all of the posts were represented in all phases of construction. Indeed, the structure may have constituted a rectilinear enclosure at one stage, and a triple row at another.

Sponsor: University of Southampton.

J Thomas 1998


Aerial Photographic Transcription (19 January 1993 - 8 February 1993)

An aerial transcription was produced from oblique aerial photographs. Information from Historic Environment Scotland (BM) 31 March 2017.

Aerial Photographic Transcription (8 June 2012)


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