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A spectacular prehistoric settlement

Castle O’er

Delve into history at Castle O'er

It’s worth visiting this dramatic hill fort at any time of year to soak in the atmosphere. Castle O’er was probably the base for an important branch of the Selgovae tribe, who ruled much of south west Scotland in the Iron Age. Archaeologists have identified the traces of nearly thirty round timber houses inside the grassy banks: when folk lived here the bank would have been topped with a wooden fence.

You can find out more about the network of prehistoric sites in Eskdale along the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.

Download our guide map of forests in the Southern Uplands to help you explore Castle O'er and the surrounding forests.


Parking Walking Viewpoint Ancient monument

Find nearby essentials

The nearest places to eat and find toilets are in Langholm or Lockerbie.

Walking trails


Cycling trails


Mountain biking trails


A fortress and a home

There were at least two major phases of building at Castle O’er. At first, people built a large oval of twin ramparts and a ditch bank around the hill. Later a smaller, single-walled oval was added inside the first.

The site was probably planned as a place that would be easy to defend against attackers, but it looks as if people continued living on the hill long after it stopped being a fortress. They would have farmed livestock and crops in the rich open grasslands of the valley.

Richard Bell, the local landowner, excavated part of Castle O’er in the 1890s. You can see some of the things he found in Dumfries Museum, including beads imported from Ireland, a flint blade, and Iron Age spindle whorls for spinning wool.

Contact: Dumfries and Borders Forest District

Address: Ae Village, Parkgate, Dumfries

Postcode: DG1 1QB

Telephone: 0300 067 6900

Email: dumfriesborders@forestry.gsi.gov.uk


How to get here

Head towards Eskdalemuir from Lockerbie, Langholm or Hawick. Castle O’er is on a minor road off the B709 between Eskdalemuir and Langholm, at grid reference NY 246 928.

Using SatNav?

DG13 0PJ is the nearest postcode.

Nearby places

You can visit a lookout post for Castle O’er at Bessie’s Hill, about 1 ½ miles (2.4 km) to the north. You’ll find fine views from Craigieburn Forest, and peaceful riverside walks as well as world-class mountain biking at the Forest of Ae, near Dumfries.


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