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We look forward to welcoming you to Scotland's forests. To enjoy your visit safely please plan ahead, follow local signage and park considerately.

Castle O’er

Where we are

COVID-19 update

Enjoy your visit safely:

  • Read our COVID-19 Information in advance of your visit.
  • Most of our forests and facilities are open, but use our website to check before you travel.
  • Do not light campfires or use disposable barbecues.
  • Park considerately, taking care not to park on verges or block gates or roads.
  • Take care on or around open water. Find out more on our Water Safety page.

About

Explore this spectacular pehistoric settlement

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. 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.

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

Southern Uplands Guide Map (PDF 3.8MB)

Walking trails (1)

Walking

Hill Fort Trail

Climb up to the impressive hill fort on Castle O’er Hill for fantastic views across Eskdale.

Long steep slopes on rough, narrow and grassy surface. Some sections may be muddy. Includes two stiles. There are no waymarkers on the fort itself to protect the monument.

Strenuous trail grade icon
1 miles / 1.6 km

Allow
¾ hours

More information

These earthworks were the home of the Iron Age Selgovae tribe. When you reach the top of the hill, see if you can spot the circular traces of the wooden huts that once stood here. They look as if they’re arranged in a street, but some overlap others. They must date from several different periods, as the hill was occupied for a long time.

Facilities and access

Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Ancient monument
Ancient monument

Find nearby essentials

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

Car parking information

There is no charge to park in this car park. Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates.

More about parking

Getting here

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

Using SatNav?

DG13 0PJ is the nearest postcode.

Get directions

Nearby forests

Close up of pine cones

An Iron Age landscape with views over the River Esk

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Ancient monument
Ancient monument
Distance from 'Castle O’er': 1.56 miles
Forest with substantial green undergrowth with tall trees and light streaming through branches.

Find space to breathe at Craigieburn

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Picnic area
Picnic area
Distance from 'Castle O’er': 9.31 miles
Girl inspects moss with adult in forest

A stunning woodland landscape with tranquil trails

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
All ability trails
All ability trails
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Picnic area
Picnic area
Distance from 'Castle O’er': 10.35 miles

Get in touch

Have a question or suggestion for improvement?

Phone
0300 067 6900 (option 1)
More contact information

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