- HER number: MEL2061
- Site Name: Castlesteads
- Grid Reference: 333971 669343
- Civil Parish:
- Monument Type:
- Ring Ditch (Late Prehistoric, Prehistoric)
- Pit (Late Prehistoric, Prehistoric)
- Summary: Two ring-groove houses and associated features
- Description: NT36NW 147 341 695
(1) (2) NT 3397 6935 An archaeological excavation of two ring-groove houses and associated features was conducted between February and March 1995 within the proposed road corridor of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass. The site was initially identified as a surface scatter of chipped stone artifacts. The presence of several negative features was then confirmed by trial trenching. Subsequent test-pitting was undertaken to assess the artefact content of the topsoil, and an area of c1000 sq m was excavated.
An almost complete ring-groove structure measuring c10m across was located, within which was a concentric ring of seven post holes. In its SW sector the ring-groove slot was heavily truncated and measured as little as 0.25m in width by 0.10m in depth. In some places the slot was entirely absent. In the remaining sections of the slot, there was less truncation and dimensions, typically from 0.40m to 0.50m wide by 0.25m to 0.35m deep were recorded. No post holes were located in the trench. The entrance, possibly showing evidence of two structural phases, was located on the SE side of the structure. Within the ring-groove fill a small number of quartz and chert flakes were found, along with a red chert scraper, charcoal, and a piece of material which appears to be coal.
To the NE were the heavily truncated remains of a second ring-groove, within which four post holes of an inner ring were preserved. The ring-groove comprised three seperate excavated units. This structure was cut on its N side by a ditch, which appears to be an earlier version of the modern field boundary ditch which presently runs parallel to this, 4m due W.
To the SE of the ring-groove houses were three adjacent, elongated pits, of which the largest, central one had been recut. The function of these features remains unclear; although not fully exposed, they do not appear to have formed the termini of enclosing works around the ring-grooves structures. Within the fills of the central pit were found large numbers of flint and chert flakes, and a small quantity of chert scrapers and flint blades.
Sponsor: Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Industry Department, managed on its behalf by Historic Scotland.
A Rees 1995.
Site identified during an archaeologica l assessement carried out by CFA Archaeology Ltd.
Mhairi Hastie, 2006.
(3) Further reporting was undertaken following the excavation along the route of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass (SAIR 44, 2010). The site lies on the edge of an alluvial river terrace close to the confluence of the North and South Esk Rivers, and lies within a nearby pit alignment (MEL24). It is not clear whether the two ring groove structures were contemporary and served either different functions or were closely linked domestic dwellings. The level of truncation of the structures makes reconstruction of their superstructures more difficult, although it is likely that they were of ring-beam construction, similar to several other excavated examples nearby and more widely on the Lothian plain. Datable material was not recovered from the ring-groove structures, but based upon their appearance in plan and comparisons with other sites, they likely belong to a very broad date range from the first quarter of the second millennium BC to the first millennium BC.
The worked stone assemblage recovered from the partially excavated pits suggests a late Neolithic/Bronze Age date for this material. The raw material (chert and flint) was imported, although it is not clear if this was from primary chalk sources or from secondary sources such as beach pebbles. The assemblage suggests that little knapping was undertaken in the area of excavation, and that the lithic material did not enter the excavation area through general waste disposal. This may suggest specific tasks very undertaken in this area, or that the area was used for the waste disposal from only a limited number of tasks. Based upon the datable artefacts from the intercutting pits, it is likely that these features pre-date the ring-groove structures, and are either isolated features or were formerly associated with settlement activity either since lost, or which lies beyond the excavation area.
- For more information contact: MidLothian Council HER
- Related Interventions:
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- (1) Bibliographic reference: Rees, A R. 1995e. 'Castle Steads, near Dalkeith (Newton/Inveresk parish), ring-groove houses', Discovery Excav Scot 1995, p.56. 56.
- (2) Unpublished document: Rees, A. 1995. Castlesteads Ring-Grooves Site; A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass, Midlothian District.
- (3) Article in serial: Cameron, K; Cressey, M; Duwell, A; Mitchell, S; Rees, A; Strachan, R and Suddaby, I. 2010. Excavations on the Route of the Dalkeith Northern Bypass, 1994-95 and 2006.