Gray Coat Earthworks

Atop Gray Coat, you are surrounded by country brimming with ancient earthworks – the foundations of historic settlements. Long populated, the area of the Dod Burn Valley has been the site of hillforts and settlements from the Bronze and Iron Ages, through the times of the Reivers, to the present day. Seen from satellite, the dikes and ditches of ancient homes carve these Border hills with astonishing abundance, like the countless circlets left by lugworms in seaside sand.

Toward the summit of Gray Coat, on either side of the dike leading from Dodburn Farm, there are the traces of several earlier settlements. Follow the dike south-southwest, and in the angle of where it meets another dike rising from the valley to the northwest, you will find the site of a Bronze Age homestead. Here, a single large hut would have stood, surrounded by a fence or palisade. Perhaps the home of one or several families and their livestock, many thousands of years ago. The wooden posts, or poles, with which this dwelling would have been constructed, give us the modern term ‘pale’ (as in ‘picket’), as well as the term ‘pele’ (as in the Reivers’ ‘pele-towers’). Follow the Dodburn Farm dike further south-southwest but a short way, and either side of it you will find an even larger earthwork – an oval enclosure presumably similar in construct (and purpose) to the first.