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Rough Castle, Antonine Wall, Scotland

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This evening, I am posting information on Rough Castle, one of the 26 forts on the Antonine Wall which stretches for some 37 miles across the Forth-Clyde isthmus in Scotland.

The Antonine Wall was completed about AD 142 and was occupied for some 20 years until the Romans retreated back to the line of Hadrian's some 100 miles south.

Rough Castle was the second smallest fort on the Wall and covered an area of abour 0.4 ha. The ramparts and ditches are reasonably well preserved and there is an intersting 'minefield' as shown in this video clip. This comprised camouflaged, shallow pits in which were embedded sharpened stakes. This feature was known as lilia due to resemblance to lily pads.

A link with a particular Roman soldier has been found at Rough Castle in the form of an alter dedicated to Victory by cohors VI Nerviorum which records that Flavius Betto, a centurion seconded from the XX Valeria Victrix at Chester commanded this auxiliary unit.

The Rough Castle site is easily accessible from Bonnybridge and affords the visitor a useful overview of both fort and Wall, both of which being in a relatively good state of preservation at this point.

This image shows the fort's defensive ramparts.

View of Antonine Wall.


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Barr Hill Fort, Antonine Wall, Scotland

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This evening, I am focusing on one of the largest forts on the Antonine Wall.

The Antonine Wall is a turf structure completed approximately AD 142. It covered a distance of about 37 miles and stretched between Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde (Glasgow) to Bridgeness on the Forth (Edinburgh).

The impetus for construction of the Wall appears to have the need to provide the new Emperor, Antoninus Pius, with a military victory and/or territory gain to secure his credibility in Rome. This entailed moving the frontier some 100 miles from Hadrian's Wall to the Forth-Clyde isthmus. The Wall was in use for a period roughly equivalent to Antonine's reign which ended in AD 161.

It is believed there were some 26 forts along the line of the Antonine Wall of which Barr Hill was one of the six principal such forts and contained the usual range of buildings including a HQ, bathhouse, barracks, granaries and commander's residence.

This fort covers an area of 3.2 acres and is positioned at the highest point of the Wall at an elevation of 150m affording superb views of the Campsie Fells across the valley looking north (into hostile territory). Between the Wall and the fort ran the Military Way.

Troops stationed at the fort included:
  • cohors 1 Hamiorum, an archery unit from Syria.
  • cohors 1 Baetasiorum, recruited from Germany.
By accessing this site from nearby Croy, which also boasts a Roman site, the visitor will walk a well defined trail covering at least one mile which affords splendid views of the Wall.



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Antonine Wall Tour, Scotland

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today, I collected two guests from Glasgow for an Antonine Wall themed tour.

First stop was the Roman Baths at Bearsden, Glasgow where was located on of the 26 forts along the Antonine Wall. This bathhouse stood in a fortified annexe atached to Bearsden Roman fort which in turn was attached to the rear of the Antonine Wall. The fort and bathhouse date from about AD 142. The bath-house had steam rooms, dry hot and cold rooms plus hot and cold baths. The baths were abandoned about the same time as the Antonine Wall, about AD 160.

Next we moved on to a nearby cemetery wherein can be seen this stretch of the Wall's foundations.

We then drove to Croy and walked about one mile along a well preserved section of the Wall to Barr Hill fort, which was one of the six primary forts on the Wall and covered an area of 3.2 acres.

This is an aspect of the fort remains. See this video clip for a wider perspective.

Next we drove east to Bonnybridge to visit the site of Rough Castle, another fort on the Wall. This image shows the Wall approaching Rough Castle.

This is the Roman equivalent of a minefield. Camouflaged pits contained sharpened stakes.

Defences at Rough Castle

Finally we headed north to visit the Ardoch Roman fort at Braco. This is a massive site which was used at least three time during the Roman occupation including the Antonine era in the 2nd century. This video shows the protective ditches on approach to the east gate.

Another aspect of the earthworks at Ardoch.

Before returning we also visited the fortlet site known as Kames Castle which is not far from Ardoch and appears to date from the 1st century.

Overall, a good day with the weather in our favour.


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