The Oldest Roman Frontier




The Oldest Roman Frontier !

Around AD 80, some 40 years before the construction of Hadrian's Wall the northern frontier of Roman Britain was marked by a series of forts and watch towers along the Gask Ridge, a ridge of high ground running from south of Crieff to Bertha (Inveralmond, Perth ) .
The Romans eventually retreated to what is now the Scottish-English border and in the AD 120s constructed Hadrian's Wall. Twenty years later the frontier had moved north again and the Antonine Wall was constructed stretching from West Kilpatrick on the Clyde to Carriden on the Forth At this time some of the Gask forts were reoccupied. .
Ardoch Fort at Braco is one of those early Gask system forts - possibly constructed at the time of the Battle of Mons Graupius (between the Caledonians and the forces of Roman Governor of Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola). When it was reoccupied in the 140s it was one of the largest Roman stations in Britain. In area it extended to some 3.2 hectares / 8 acres .
Although there are no visible buildings, the defensive earthworks that remain make this a most impressive location to visit.

Gask Ridge
The Gask Ridge frontier is a group of towers , forts and fortlets that run along a Roman road from south of Ardoch ( Braco ) to Bertha at Inveralmond . It is possible that the series extends further south to Doune or even to the Clyde – Forth isthmus . The Traditional view gave its abandonment at circa 87 AD but there is now evidence for a longer occupation . The traditional dating is from either before the building of Inchtuthill or just after the fortresses abandonment . Inchtuthill is just south of Spittalfield between Caputh and Meiklour ) .
The Gask Ridge is the oldest known land frontier system anywhere in the Roman Empire .

Fendoch ( Sma’ Glen ) and Dalginross (Comrie ) – “ Glen Blocker ” FortsThe term “ glenblocker fort ”( sometimes also called the Highland line fort ) is used to describe members of a line of Roman forts along or close to, the Highland boundary fault line .The forts all share the common characteristic that they are close to the mouth of a glen a narrow valley or a strath and can thus supervise passing “traffic”. Fendoch extended to some 2 hectares or 5 acres with a watchtower on the hill to the west .
Another “ glenblocker “ is in the village of Comrie and named Dalginross . There are two forts at Dalginross, one set entirely within the defences of the other, located on the south bank of the River Earn, immediately east of the point where it collects the Water of Ruchill and west of the River Lednock confluence. The site now lies beneath the modern village while two marching camps are situated in fields to the south (at NN7720). It is possible that a Roman military supply-road led from here eastwards along the valley of the Earn towards the Gask Ridge fort. One of the forts was most-likely established by the governor Sallustius Lucullus sometime during AD85, only to be demolished after a short period of occupation, perhaps the following campaign season. The site was one of a series of Roman military camps established at the same time and dubbed by modern archaeologists the Glen Forts .
More information on the Gask Ridge frontier

The web site on the Gask Ridge is quite superb . There has been a prodigious ammount of research , excavation and discussion on the Gask Ridge . Work sponsored by the Parth & Kinross Heritage Trust and carried out under the wise auspices of Dr David Woolliscroft of Liverpool University .The web site is worth a a look :

http://www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/

Comments

  1. as always Colin, fascinating stuff. You bring the picture alive in such a vivid fashion. I want to walk that ridge and imagine what it was like for the Romans and their slaves. My origin route for Travellers, in Scotland, centres around Inveralmond. Indeed when the authorities tried to remove the Double Dykers in the 60s, they point blank refused and said, 'we're home, and we're not moving.' P&K built Hunter's Crescent for them. Earlier Ainslie place and most of Muirton housed the first wave of Perthshire Travellers.

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