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Roman Forts in Perthshire


Scotland lay on the north west frontier of the Roman Empire. Roman armies invaded Scotland several times, sometimes defeating the northern tribes but never incorporating them into their empire. The nature of the contact between Rome and her northern neighbours was thus primarily military, and the surviving monuments reflect this. Nearly all the monuments only survive today as earthworks, but they are a remarkable group and of international importance.

Each time the Roman army set up camp, it protected itself by constructing a rampart and ditch, and parts of two such camps may be seen at Black Hill, Ardoch (Perthshire) - see below. When the empire ceased expanding, its borders were protected by frontiers. Parts of one such line survives in Perthshire and is represented by the watchtowers at Muir o' Fauld and Ardunie, which appear to date to the 1st century AD.

Shortly after their construction the Romans withdrew to the Tyne-Solway line, where they built Hadrian's Wall in the 120s. That Wall, in turn, was succeeded in the 140s by the new frontier line - the Antonine Wall - constructed across central Scotland from sea to sea. This frontier, which only lasted about 20 years, can still be traced intermittently today. Behind the Wall lay forts and fortlets that housed the troops charged with the duties of defending the province and controlling its inhabitants in the border regions.

Ardoch Fort

The Romans built a number of forts in the first century AD, including Ardoch at Braco, connected by a line of watchtowers and fortlets across the southern edge of Strathearn. This appears to be the first Roman linear frontier (40 years earlier than Hadrian's Wall). The Romans withdrew after a short time. In the 140's they returned to Strathearn to rebuild at least some of the fortifications, reoccupied Ardoch and stayed some 20 years. Ardoch was in fact one of the largest Roman stations in Britain but now grass covered rampants and ditchs are all that remains. The site is however both remarkable and fascinating.


The Gask Ridge in Perthshire, Scotland

The Gask Ridge frontier system is the earliest Roman land frontier in Britain, built in the 80's AD, 40 years before Hadrian's Wall and 60 years before the Antonine Wall. It seems that the Gask system is the first Roman land frontier anywhere. As such, the Gask acquires a particular importance, because it is difficult to judge how Roman frontiers changed and developed over time unless one can study the prototype.