EDIN'S HALL BROCH
and COCKBURN LAW
Edin's Hall Broch is an extraordinary large and rare example of this type of fortification in lowland Scotland. Built in the first century AD within the earlier defences of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort, it is likely this was some form of high status residence. Cockburn Law hillfort overlooks the site and may have been contemporary.
Two fortifications were established in vicinity of Cockburn Law during the Iron Age (800 BC to AD 43). The precise dating of these structures is uncertain and it is also unclear if both were occupied concurrently or whether one replaced the other.
Edin's Hall Broch and Hillfort
What we today call Edin's Hall was originally a bivallate hillfort which was established on a plateau to the north-east of Cockburn Law. The position offered strong natural defences for its northern side was protected by a steep scarp that descended to the Whiteadder Water. The hillfort defences themselves consisted of a double line of ditches and ramparts, the latter being constructed from earth and held in place with retaining walls. The main entrance was on the west side and within the oval shaped enclosure were up to twelve roundhouses.
Around the first century AD, a substantial broch (or large dun) was added within the ramparts of the original hillfort. This was a circular building which consisted of a substantial drystone wall, over 5 metres thick, embedded into which was a staircase and guard chamber along with other rooms. A narrow passageway led through the wall into the circular courtyard although whether this was roofed or left open is uncertain. The broch could have been a residence for a high status individual, a view perhaps supported by associated archaeological finds, or alternatively it could have served as a small fort.
The hillfort's defences seem to have been deemed superfluous at some point during its occupation with various yards and enclosures being built over the former ramparts. Some authors have suggested this may be due to a Roman influence (the Scottish Borders were incorporated into the Roman Empire from AD 138 to circa-AD160). The site's modern name derives from the fairy tale about the 'Red Ettin', a three headed beast that lived in a castle. The name is attributed to the site from the nineteenth century during which period the remains were being cleared and investigated.
Cockburn Law Hillfort
Cockburn Law was an oval shaped fort built upon the summit of the hill. A single rampart ran around the whole site but this was augmented by a second on the south and no less than three ramparts protected the vulnerable west and north sides. There were no ditches and the internal arrangements that existed within the fort are unclear. A settlement to the foot of the hill in the east may be related and it is possible Cockburn Law was just a refuge in times of trouble.
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Edin's Hall Broch consists of the earthworks of the original hillfort and the impressive remains of the broch/dun itself. The footpath to the north allows access to Cockburn Law where the hillfort survives as modest earthworks.
Edin's Hall Broch. The broch was built within the ramparts of the earlier hillfort.
Cockburn Law. The fort on top of Cockburn Law was smaller than that at Edin's Hall.
Official parking is found off an unnamed road accessed from the A6112. The turning is sign-posted and there is sufficient space for several cars n the lay-by. The Broch and Hillforts are then accessed via a 2 mile walk that largely follows the Whiteadder Water. Visitors should be aware that the route passes immediately adjacent to a private home/garden which, at the time of our visit, was the home of a few quite feisty dogs. An alternative footpath provides access to the site from the north. This can be found off an (unsignposted) unnamed road off the B6355. On-road parking is possible with care.
Car Park (Official)
Edin's Hall Broch
The alternative footpath to Edin Hall's Broch and Cockburn Law.