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The Doric Columns

Roman Camps
The nearest known Roman military site to the probable Romano-British settlement of Devana is the temporary marching camp at Normandykes, which lies 8 miles to the west-south-west on the north bank of the River Dee. This camp is part of a chain of such fortifications which lie in an arc across the coastal foothills of the Grampian Mountains, from Balmakewan outside Montrose 30 miles to the south-west, to Bellie overlooking Spey Bay on the northern Grampian coast, over 50 miles away to the north-east. These camps, many of which are neatly spaced an easy day's march apart, have been dated to the Agricolan Campaigns of the late-1st century and the Severan Campaigns of the early-3rd century

Hillforts in Aberdeenshire

Raedykes Roman Camp was a major encampment of the Roman Army in its northward invasion of Scotland circa 2nd to 3rd century AD.

The camp was inhabited by approximately 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers, and was situated a day's march away from two other ancient major military camps: Stracathro Roman Camp and Normandykes Roman Camp.

The camp high elevation point, Garrison Hill, commands an expansive view of the North Sea, allowing military communication with the Roman fleet.

Moderately well preserved ramparts and defensive ditches are present for extensive runs along portions of the perimeter.


[games.gif]Viewed by the Romans, the Mounth, or easternmost range of the Grampian Mountains, posed a formidable terrestrial barrier isolating the Northeast of Scotland from the Scottish Lowlands. This mountainous barrier, combined with the local bogs, was a factor in determining the Romans' coastal march northward from the Raedykes Roman Camp.  The Romans chose a more inland route to avoid the boggy undulating terrain of the Mounth. Several scholars suggest that Mons Graupius, the earliest recorded battle in Scottish history in 83 AD, occurred on Megray or Kempstone Hill, essentially along the Causey Mounth. A review of the Tacitus account of Mons Graupius supports the location of the battle in this vicinity, since Tacitus references the signalling communication with the Roman Fleet and the Battle site lying between a Roman camp (Raedykes) and a coastal hill. Furthermore, one of the four greatest Roman coin hoards of silver denarii was found at Megray Hill near the Causey Mounth
Kintore is the site of Deers Den Roman Camp and is thought to relate to Agricola's campaigns into Scotland; moreover, Deers Den is associated with the invasion of Severan.  Archaeologists say that the Kintore camp was definitely occupied in 120 AD and may have been occupied on as many as three occasions during the Scottish campaigns, before lack of resources and more pressing matters elsewhere in the Roman Empire induced consolidation and retreat. The Romans, it is believed, were attracted by the belief that Scotland was rich in natural resources, including gold, silver and tin. The Deer's Den camp could have been involved in the preparations for the decisive Battle of Mons Graupius; however, most researchers argue that the site of Mons Graupius was further south in Aberdeenshire, possibly near Raedykes at Kempstone Hill or Megray Hill.

Arriving from the south Roman Legions marched from Raedykes to Normandykes Roman Camp through the Durris Forest as they sought higher ground evading the bogs of Red Moss and other low-lying mosses associated with the Burn of Muchalls. That march used the Elsick Mounth, one of the ancient trackways crossing the Mounth of the Grampian Mountains lying west of Netherley.

Cardean Roman Fort
- which appears to be 207 x 179m over the ramparts (c 3.7ha inside the ditches) in size. This puts Cardean amongst the largest forts in Britain. The fort itself was surrounded by a complex ditch system, which also included two annexes:  one in the SW on the very tip of the promontory and one to the  SE. Combined, these effectively closed access to the promontory from the NE by a large continuous system of ditches.  Besides these clearly identifiable features, the survey also highlighted a large area of rig and furrow to the West of the fort, suggesting medieval activity on the site, as well as a number of  circular features (possibly simple roundhouses) along the North edge of the field. These features appear to be associated with a forked feature, suggesting a prehistoric ditch system on the site as well as a number of pits. In the southern part of the promontory, close  to the steep erosion edge to the Dean Water, another feature was tentatively interpreted as a complex roundhouse. The inside of the Roman Fort appears to have been disturbed by an 18th-century road with side ditches, as well as a large rectangular feature that obliterates traces of the Roman road system in the centre of the fort, but appears itself to have been cut by the Early Modern road.  A period of flooding after heavy rainfall during the survey allowed for the documentation of an old river channel of the Isla at the very edge of the headland, suggesting that there may have been easier access in the past to the seasonably navigable Isla from the promontory than is apparent today.


See them deein! Colosseum
Thon's the place tae watch a kill
Jupiter, Apollo, Neptune
Gods fur gweed an Gods fur ill

Tasty ostriche byled wi brains
Baths, mosaics, modern drains
Legions, Caesars, sodjers' roads
Wine an olives, Latin odes.

Wad ye wanner in the gloamin
Wi a muckle ancient Roman?
Eat a doremoose for yer tea?
Washed doon wi flamingo bree?

Vulcan, Venus, Ceres, Mars
Romans... famed fur Gods an Wars
In the language litter-bin
They've left lots of wirds ahin!




Claudius Ptolemy Cosmographia Britain and Ireland

The Caledonians, like many Celtic tribes in Britain, were Hillfort builders and Farmers who defeated and were defeated by the Romans on several occasions. The Romans never fully occupied Caledonia, though several attempts were made. Nearly all of the information that we have about the Caledonians comes from their Roman enemy, and therefore unbiased information may be difficult to obtain. Peter Salway considers the Caledonians to have consisted of indigenous Pictish tribes augmented by fugitive Brythonic resistance fighters fleeing from Britannia. The Caledonii tribe, after which the historical Caledonian Confederacy is named, may have been joined in conflict with Rome by tribes in northern central Scotland by this time, such as the Vacomagi, Taexali and Venicones recorded by Ptolemy. The Romans reached an accommodation with Brythonic tribes such as the Votadini as effective Buffer states.

The Antonine's Wall

The Antonine Wall at BonnybridgeA Roman defensive fortification between the Forth and Clyde in Central Scotland, Antonine's Wall was built in honour of Emperor Antoninus Pius by Lollius Urbicus, the Governor of Britain, around 143 AD. It established a frontier to the north of Hadrian's Wall in England, with the intention of restraining the Pictish tribes to the north and as such represents the North-Western boundary of the Roman Empire. However, residual hostile tribes in the Southern Uplands of Scotland forced more than one retreat to the safety of Hadrian's Wall, and the Antonine Wall was probably completely abandoned by 180 AD. The wall is 37 miles (60 km) in length, running from Bo'ness to Old Kirkpatrick, but is best observed to the southwest of Falkirk.

Unlike Hadrian's Wall, which is built of stone, the Antonine Wall was constructed of turf on a loose boulder foundation and most-likely topped with a wooden rampart. In front of the wall, on its north side, was a 3.6m (12-foot) deep ditch. To the south of the wall was a cobbled roadway, known as the 'Military Way', that connected the network of forts which lay approximately every 2 miles (3 km) along the wall to provide accommodation for its garrison. It is thought the wall may have required a complement of around 30,000 men to maintain the defences.

80 AD     Agricola invades Scotland and erects a line of Forts between Clyde and Forth.

142 AD   Antonine's Wall (or the Wall of Lollius Urbicus) connected the Forts built between the Clyde and the Forth. It is thought that number 24 was at Inveravon, 25 at Kinneil and 26 at Carriden. About 60 kilometres in length it was garrisoned by approximately 30,000 men. Hadrian's Wall had 83 soldiers per kilometres and it had 12,000 men man the wall with a further 8,000 in forward Forts and in reserve. It is thought that Antonine Wall had 300 men every Kilometre thus there would have been about 20,000 manning the Wall at any given time. To man forward garrisons and also have soldiers in reserve a figure of 30,000 is reasonable, but some estimate that it may have been 50,000. The known forts along Antonine Wall are: 1 Bishopton, 2 Old Kilpatrick, 3 Dutocher, 4 Cleddans (fortlet), 5 Castilehill, 6 Bearsden, 7 Summerston, 8 Balmuidy, 9 Wilderness Plantation (fortlet), 10 Cadder, 11 Glasgow Bridge (fortlet), 12 Bar Hill, 15 Croy Hill, 16 Westerwood, 17 Castecary, 18 Seabags (fortlet), 19 Rough Castle, 20 Watling Lodge, 21 Camlon, 22 Falkirk, 23 Mumrills, 24 Inveravon, 25 Kinneil (fortlet), 26 Carriden. 

Because the style of Antonine Wall was not as structured as that of Hadrian's Wall, it was not made of stone and was only in existence for a relatively short period of time there is very little known about it by comparison. As a result there could have been more forts north and south of it that have not been detected. It is also now thought that it may have extended to at least Blackness and possibly Cramond where there is evidence of a Roman Fort.

161       Antonine Wall abandoned. It had been temporarily abandoned and the forts destroyed in 154-5 AD, but was quickly rebuilt and occupied until it was finally deserted.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013