Looking around the upper Tweed valley with its hills, river and burns you may wonder how this landscape came to be in its present form. The answer lies in a combination of the underlying rocks and the many millions of years that have passed since they were deposited.
The Bronze Age in Scotland occurred about 3000 to 4500 years ago and was, of course, marked by the invention of metal. Copper was discovered first, then it was soon realised that by alloying it with tin, a much harder metal could be made - bronze. Bronze became the principal metal to be used for everyday tools such as axes and, later on, weapons, for example, spears and swords. Dress pins and brooches, and even combs were made by casting bronze into moulds. Because bronze is a non-ferrous metal it survives very well in the ground. However, it would seem that much of the precious new metal was recycled in ancient times and it is, therefore, quite rare.
The whole of life can be described as ‘ritual’, the routines of getting out of bed and washing, making, serving and consuming food and so on. Archaeologists strive to find out as much as is possible about the people of the past but the everyday activities can only be guessed at in many instances.
c 200BC the Upper Tweed Valley had a substantial population as evidenced by the large number of Stone-Age and Bronze-Age sites that are scattered over the hill sides. More about these sites and and Standing Stones of the same period see the Tweedsmuir Standing Stones page.
There are many bronze/iron age sites in Tweedsmuir parish comprising Standing Stones, Cairns, Barrows, Enclosed Cremation Cemetries, Ring Enclosures, Unenclosed Platform Settlements, Forts, and Cultivation Terraces. These sites have been well recorded in the past but present day "care" is largely the province of the members of the Biggar Archeology Group led by Tam Ward. But many sites have been lost. On the Talla Reservoir page of the BAG website - it states that it is reasonable to assume that many other features may have been destroyed without record during the quarrying operations and that the size and significance of what is still a major ritual landscape of Bronze Age activity would have been even greater. It is a sobering thought that up to 33% of the archaelogical landscape at Talla may have been obliterated. (The construction of the reservoir may also have obliterated the ancient site of the Talla fortalice of the Frasers/Hays - see Hay Family of Talla page.) It is also estimated that over one hundred sites have been damaged or even destroyed by modern afforestation in the area. However the site of two unrecorded Bronze Age Unenclosed Platform Settlements have been discovered below the high water mark of the Fruid Reservoir (hence can only be accessed during low water periods.) Details of this site can be found on the BAG website.
There is no record of the Romans of ever having entered the southern extremities of the Upper Tweed Valley even though there are two sites with the name Chester in the area. The valley would have been heavily forested with Scot's Pines, Oak, Alder, Elm, Ash and Birch and was inhabitated by a tribe named the Selgovae. However, a couple of miles south of the Parish boundary in Dumfriesshire near the Devil's Beeftub at Ericstane there is considerable evidence of the Romans having passed that way. There are remains of roman roads, signal stations at White Type and Beattock Summit - RCAHMS Canmore ID 48494 -and also a fortlet at Redheugh and a marching camp at Little Clyde. This cluster of signal stations/fortlets etc at Ericstane, apart from the requirement to monitor the movement of the Roman army as they proceeded north from Annandale via Ericstane Brae to the Upper Clyde Valley, must also have been to keep an eye on the hostile Selgovae in their Upper Tweed Fastness.