The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian



Bank Barrow

<b>Raeburnfoot</b>Posted by Howburn DiggerImage © Howburn Digger
Nearest Town:Langholm (17km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   NY25019935 / Sheet: 79
Latitude:55° 16' 56.65" N
Longitude:   3° 10' 50.68" W

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<b>Raeburnfoot</b>Posted by Howburn Digger <b>Raeburnfoot</b>Posted by Howburn Digger <b>Raeburnfoot</b>Posted by Howburn Digger <b>Raeburnfoot</b>Posted by Howburn Digger


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A return visit to this huge, long structure bedded into its peaty hillside on a massive area of reedy marshy upland unimproved hill grazing.
I found some notes from my last visit which I am reproducing below.
Although three months earlier in the season than my last visit in December 2013, I was hardly five minutes from the car when a squall of freezing September rain came down in sheets utterly soaking me. The bitter rain had elements of hail and was driven by a chill wind. Be prepared. Eskdalemuir can be bleak even in September. By the time I summited the terminus cairn on the bank barrow it was sunny again. My lovely camera refused to work or even switch on despite the batteries being fully charged. I took some pitiful pictures with a steam-powered mobile which do not do the site justice. Another visit beckons... low Winter sun methinks.
The monument is long (currently estimated at 650 metres) and the terminus cairn is around 5 feet high. You cannot see the bottom from the top! Even walking down to where the North East rampart of the Roman Camp cuts across... the lower end of the bank barrow is nowhere to be seen. The scale starts to kinda sink in.
Rebecca Jones notes the deliberate siting of the North East "Stracathro Gate" atop the raised ground of the bank barrow and it is hard to interpret it in any other way. It was kinda cool to see this diagonal bank and ditch cutting out from the Roman ramparts... this site has the only known upstanding examples of this type of gate in the world. The general consensus is that the "Stracathro Gated" Roman Camps (they are only found in Scotland) date from the Agricolan Period and given this camp's location it is likely to date from the first couple of years of the campaign (79 - 80 AD).
There is another mighty Roman presence nearby with a big permanent Antonine fort's huge earthworks sited between Raeburnfoot Farm and the White Esk. Along the short stretch of farm road there are also the earthworks of two substantial settlements and aside from the bank barrow, the Lamb Knowe hill has a number of tantalising enclosures as well. With the Girdlestanes and Loupin' Stanes just a stone's throw away plus an enviable array of forts, settlements and earthworks across Castle O'er and Bessie's Hill this is a wee corner which could take years to explore properly.

Raeburnfoot 16.12.13

It was a straightforward scoot down the old A77 from Crawford zigzagging under the modern M77. Exit at Beattock heading for Moffat. The low winter sun was at its highest and I wanted to try and photograph some shadows on the lengthy earthwork to try and get some definition before the valley lost the light in the mid-afternoon.
I pulled into Eskdalemuir just in time for the rain to start. Take the little turn off marked B7060 to Jedburgh and as soon as you cross the bridge over the White Esk take a left and cross the Clerkhill Burn pull off the road into the farm track on the left signposted “Raeburnfoot”. Drive on and turn sharp left (steep uphill) at the first farmhouse. The road deteriorates after this and it might be advisable for those without 4 wheel drives to park at the side of the road. My wee VW Polo managed okay (just!) but be warned there are large potholes and the sharpness of the camber scraped my undercarriage/ sump a few times. This stretch of farm road is about three quarters of a mile long and brings you to Raeburnfoot Farm where the road forks in two.
There are plenty of places to leave a car here without getting in the way of farm vehicles. This is the point to park if you want to take in the Roman Fort en route to the Bank Barrow. The fort defences are in great shape and still present a challenge to get across. At the far side of the fort the ground starts to slope up and the start of the bank barrow can be seen in the centre of the slope in the short pasture.
If you want to avoid the Romans altogether there is a more direct route to the bank barrow. Instead of parking up... keep going and take the right hand road at the fork and continue through a gate which bars the road (be sure and close it after you). There are a few little areas on the left after the gate where it is quite safe to pull in and park out of the way. You will see a wee burn flowing under the road at the gate. Follow it upstream keeping in to its left bank. Five or ten minutes of proper striding and you will view the terminus cairn on the skyline and then crest the hill.
During my visit the driving rain turned to sleet when I got to the top of the hill. The site is on rough hill pasture with long grass and heather masking out a lot of the definition of this enormous structure. By following the Bank Barrow downhill for a few hundred yards you can get more of a perspective (though at no point can you see the whole monument) and the sheer scale kinda hits you! It is enormous!
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
10th September 2018ce
Edited 10th September 2018ce