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Edin’s Hall Broch

 


General view

The entrance doorway

Inner chambers of the broch.

Elba Bridge
 

Edin’s Hall Broch is a Bronze Age structure lying on a ridge on the north eastern slopes of Cockburn Law above the Whiteadder Water off the Duns to Grantshouse Road. The property is currently in the care of Historic Scotland and  access can be gained  by a footpath from Elba Farm crossing the river by a very picturesque swing bridge. Nearby on the summit of Cockburn Law are to be found the remains of a hillfort although it is doubtful it this would have been contemporaneous.

To reach the broch is a very pleasant, if slightly strenuous walk and the ruins are very impressive comprising basically a hill fort with a broch within the enclosure. There are also remains of other structures some overlying the outer rampart walls suggesting the development of the site over a fairly lengthy period latterly when the need for defence was not uppermost.

Although the subject of a number of field trips by the Berwickshire Naturalists Society and excavations in 1881 by J Turnbull there has never been a full scale excavation and much mystery still surrounds the site.

The first survey was carried out by Mr. John Blackadder, surveyor, Edrom in 1793 but it would appear the construction suffered considerably over the next fifty years because of stone removal by local farmers. There has also been considerable damage caused by the action of rabbits in recent years.

The existence of a broch in this part of the country is fairly unique and of those this is by far the most extensive. The broch is a uniquely Scottish construction and apart from a few others in the Borders and a few in Galloway the great majority (The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland has identified 571) are situated either in Caithness, the Northern Isles or the west coasts of Skye and Lewis.

The Border brochs are therefore very isolated geographically and this obviously raises the questions of when they were built and who built them. Does this suggest some sort of incursion by the Caledonii, the warlike tribe who inhabited the northern part of Scotland and who caused the Romans so many problems? The date of building is generally agreed to be the first two centuries A.D. although as stated construction would not have been a single process but rather a continuing event over a period.

At this time the south east of Scotland was occupied by a tribe by the name of the Votadini. There is very little evidence of Roman occupation and relations with the Votadini seem to have been good and it has been theorized that the Romans effectively used the Votadini as a “buffer” tribe to protect Roman occupied southern Britain from attack by the Caledonii.

There could well have been trade between the Votadini and the Romans and there is a suggestion that the Votadini may even have been mining for copper at this period and there is evidence of a very early copper mine at nearby Elba.

Basically a broch is a circular drystone built construction with a long narrow entrance passage, guard cells to either side and wall chambers entering from the central courtyard. There would also be stairs within the thickness of the wall and the property would have been roofed. The broch itself would probably have been the dwelling of the most important or chief person in the tribe.

 

For further information on Edin’s Hall Broch see the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland 1999