Kidlandlee Dean

The variety of archaeology along Clennell Street suggests that this stretch of land was in use for an extended period of time and was re-modelled and re-settled over the years. The excavations at Kidlandlee Dean focussed on a small settlement area.

The prehistoric remains at Kidlandlee Dean were first identified by aerial archaeologist Tim Gates. A field survey was later carried out by Tim Gates and Stuart Ainsworth. This identified two separate agricultural enclosures and associated dwellings. The original extent of the site, sadly, remains unknown as many remains here were destroyed by forestry ploughing and planting in the 1970s.

In 2005 an ongoing project was begun to investigate later prehistoric settlements in the Cheviot hills. The aim was to establish the dates and timescale of the settlement at Kidlandlee dean. By taking samples of undisturbed soils from beneath cairns and the lines of the field boundaries it was hoped that more accurate dating could take place. It was also hoped that it would be possible to determine the land use at the site. The project would involve a survey of the earthworks, excavation on the site and environmental sampling. In 2005 the contour survey was begun as did the excavation of one of the associated roundhouses.

The house (above) has a diameter of around 5m. The excavation revealed the house platform and a low stone bank which formed the base of the circular wall. The trench was covered by fibrous deposits which were the remains of the turf walling of the house. Finds here included pottery, glass beads, a polisher used in the working of hides as well as the whetstone shown in the photograph here.

It was always assumed that the remains in this area of Clennell Street would date from around the late Bronze Age. However initial examination of the finds by Fraser Hunter of the National Museums of Scotland suggests a late Iron Age date. However, the 2008 excavations at Kidlandlee have suggested the Bronze Age may still be a possibility. A trench across one of the field boundaries showed that there had been at least two phases of construction or at least re-modelling of earlier construction. The sherds of pottery were found in the later phase here were, again, Iron Age.

A survey by Jim Wright identified twenty-six cairns. Nineteen of these were associated with the Kidlandlee Dean area and seven are associated with the nearby Haresheds dyke. This cross ridge dyke is a feature newly identified by the survey.

It is one of a series of these dykes which cross Clennell Street. It is thought that the dykes may be a means of controlling the movement of cattle, imposing some sort of toll on those using the track or possibly a way of marking territorial limits.

Use of the landscape at Kidlandlee Dean, then, stretches all the way from the late Stone Age right up to the late Iron Age. In Britain, the Iron Age lasted from around the 5th century BC until the Roman conquest (and until the 5th century AD in some areas not under Roman influence).

The investigations at Kidlandlee Dean are ongoing. The area of investigation also covers the enclosed settlement at Uplaw Knowe with its two ring-ditch houses and the Haresheds Dyke.

Excavation Gallery