There are traces of people living on the hills of East Lothian from the Bronze Age (2,500-800BC) – from the Lammermuirs to North Berwick Law and Traprain Law. Hillforts were surrounded by banks, ditches or even a fence and remains of houses are often found on sites.
Those with defences may be more for show and status. The local tribe was known by the Romans as the Votadini and had their capital at Traprain Law. By the 4th century the population on the hill was the size of a small town. Just imagine the hilltop full of people and animals, roadways and wooden houses compared to the ponies and sheep that live there today!
View our feature on Traprain Law Rock Art.
In 1978 archaeologists undertook an 18-month rescue excavation at Broxmouth hillfort near Dunbar before it was completely destroyed by quarrying for limestone. Research from the site gives a picture of Iron Age life in the area with evidence for feasting, warfare and trade – both with neighbouring settlements and across the sea. It shows the occupants kept cattle and sheep, produced iron and steel and even went deep-sea fishing!
Dig deeper into Life in a hillfort!