Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.
Castlesteads / Newton
- HER number: MEL24
- Site Name: Castlesteads / Newton
- Grid Reference: 333763 669479
- Civil Parish:
- Summary: Cropmarks of a pit alignment
- Description: NT36NW 53 3375 6926 to 3377 6977
See also NT36NW 70.
(1) NT 337 692 to NT 337 698. Pit Alignment, Castlesteads: Aerial photography has revealed the crop marks of a pit alignment. It shows around 80 pits, 3m to 5m apart, in an approximately straight line. Nothing is visible on the ground.
Univ Edinburgh Extra-Mural Dept 1979
(2)(3) Cropmarks between Newton House and Castlesteads reveal two lines of pits roughly parallel to each other about 300m apart. The E line runs N for a distance of 500m from a wood on the N bank of the River North Esk (NT 3374 6924) to the boundary between the districts of Midlothian and East Lothian (NT 3376 6973); the other runs from a field boundary 150m ESE of Newton House (NT 3348 6979) to the district boundary (NT 3348 6992), a distance of about 250m. Both continue N of the district boundary forming part of a system of pit-alignments which covers an area of about 130ha.
S P Halliday 1982; RCAHMS 1988.
(4) Scheduled as Newton, pit alignment.
Information from Historic Scotland, schedulinbg document dated 6 August 1993.
(5) Aerial photographs show that the pit-alignment continues to the North of trees. See also NT36NW 70.
Information from RCAHMS (RHM) 16 November 1994.
(6-7) NT 337 695. An excavation was carried out in October and November 1994 where one of a series of pit alignments recorded around Castle Steads was intersected by the proposed route of the A68 Dalkeith Northern Bypass. One large trench measuring c50m by 30m was excavated over the pit alignment, and three 4m wide runner trenches with a combined length of c290m were opened to examine adjacent land where cropmark traces of former cultivation had previously been identified.
Nine pits were recorded in the main trench, arranged in a single line and orientated on a N-S axis. These varied in size from 3.5-5.5m long and 2.2-2.8m wide and were mostly c1m deep. They do not appear to have held posts, and it appears unlikely that they were deliberately infilled. Putatively medieval pottery was recovered from the upper layers of four pits, and a chert flake came from the primary fill of a fifth. No trace of an adjacent bank was identified. To the E of one of the pits a cluster of seven smaller pits and post holes was identified, three of which contained large fragments of later prehistoric pottery. The eroded remains of rig-and-furrow cultivation systems were identified, representing a different, later pattern of land-use.
Sponsor: Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Industry Department, managed on its behalf by Historic Scotland.
K J Cameron 1995.
Site identified during an archaeological assessement carried out by CFA Archaeology Ltd.
Mhairi Hastie, 2006.
(8) The excavations undertaken in 1994 (Cameron, 1995) were further reported upon following post-excavation work (SAIR 44, 2010). The SAIR report described the pits as being slightly elongated oval shaped in plan, with a steep-sided, V-shaped profile across their width and gentler sloping sides and a flat base along their length. The long axis of each pit was orientated in the direction of the pit-alignment. The pits had a basic sequence of deposits filling them, comprising large sub-rounded stones within a grey silty soil at the base of the pits, which contained a single abraded flint flake from one of the pits. This basal deposit also contained evidence for a band of humus regeneration, and was followed by generally two layers of grey silt, and a final deposit of brown silt containing occasional redeposited sherds of medieval White Gritty Ware and possibly East Coast White Gritty Ware or Roman pottery. Later ploughsoil was recorded infilling any remaining depressions in the surface of the pits. There was evidence of slope-wash and slumping around the edges of the pit, but none of the pits had been re-cut or showed evidence of having contained posts. Analysis of the pollen recovered from the humus regeneration layer suggests an landscape of open pasture with little arboreal vegetation.
Other features identified adjacent to the pit alignment included a pit cluster of seven small pits or post-holes, which were filled with charcoal-flecked sandy soil. Prehistoric pottery sherds were recovered from three of the pits, of which two contained burnt organic residue. The pottery recovered from the pit cluster represents a maximum of five different vessels. Some of the sherds were abraded, and appear to represent vessels from the Late Neolithic/Beaker , incorporated into the pit fills as redposited material. Some other sherds represent pottery from a single vessel, which was likely placed into the pit during backfilling and subsequently broke. This pottery is relatively undiagnostic and has a broad date range of c1500BC to c100AD. Calibrated radiocarbon dating from the organic residue from the Late Neolithic/Beaker pottery sherds provides a date range of 2570-2450cal BC, suggesting this pottery is most likely to be Neolithic Impressed Ware. A flint flake was recovered from one of the pit fills. There was no stratigraphic relationship with the pit alignment.
Two very shallow and isolated pits were also recorded, neither of which contained any finds; an oval-shaped stony spread of uncertain function, and a large stone-filled pit located to the east of the pit alignment.
Rig and furrow cultivation was also recorded at the location of the pit alignment, and extending beyond it. At least two different alignments of cultivation remains were identified, possibly representing differences in age or former field plots. A narrower, NE-SW aligned system of furrows and a broader system of furrows aligned N-S, which may be medieval in date. Two of the pits in the pit alignment appear to have been overlain by the furrows.
- For more information contact: MidLothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Armit and Ralston, I and I B M. 2003. 'The Iron Age', 2nd edition, p.169-95. 189.
- Bibliographic reference: Halliday, S P. 2002. 'Settlement, territory and landscapes: the later prehistoric landscape in the light of the "Survey of Eastern Dumfriesshire" ', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc (3rd) Vol. 76 2002, p.91-106. ???
- (1) Bibliographic reference: University of Edinburgh Extra-Mural Department. 1979. The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Midlothian District, Lothian Region. 32.
- (2) Bibliographic reference: Halliday, S P. 1982. 'Later prehistoric farming in South-East Scotland', p.74-91. 76.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1988. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Midlothian (prehistoric to early historic), Midlothian District, Lothian Region. 23, No.88.
- (5) Aerial Photograph: RCAHMS. Various.
- (6) Bibliographic reference: Cameron, K. 1995d. 'Castle Steads, near Dalkeith (Newton parish), pit alignment', Discovery Excav Scot 1995, p.56. 56.
- (7) Unpublished document: Cameron, K. 1995. Castlesteads Pit Alignment, A68 Dalkeith Bypass, Midlothian District.
- (8) 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.