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Roman Fort

Roman Fort



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History and Archaeology at Vindolanda Roman Fort

A note to my readers: The world is still dealing with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and it will be a long time before we can travel freely again. For many of us that will mean staycations and more local travel, but I will continue posting new content for you to read at home and to inspire your future travels. Happy reading and stay safe!

Disclosure: This article may contain links to products or services (including Amazon) that pay me a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.

Older even than nearby Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda Roman Fort is the most important Roman site in Britain. It has been a source of inspiration to historians and archaeologists for centuries, and has been a fruitful source of artefacts and information about Roman Britain. And it caters well for visitors. Even those with only a casual interest in history will enjoy strolling among the well presented ruins and imagining what life would have been like here almost two thousand years ago.

Excavations at Vindolanda Roman Fort

Archaeologists amazed by 'most impressive' Roman fort anywhere in Empire found in UK

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Hadrian&rsquos Wall: Construction of Roman fortification explained

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The Romans descended on Britain around 2,000 years ago. They would go on to occupy the lands stretching south to north for 400 years. Much of their legacy remains dotted around the country.

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Hadrian's Wall is perhaps the most notable: a 73-mile structure that spans the River Tyne near the North Sea and all the way to the Solway Firth near the Irish Sea.

While the North of England features some of the most breathtaking Roman remains, the Empire did not stop at the border.

The Wall was originally used as a way to mark the base from which soldiers would travel north, towards Scotland, as well as to "separate Romans from the barbarians" as said by Emperor Hadrian himself.

Later on, the Romans invaded Scotland, and established what has been described as one of the "most impressive forts anywhere in the Roman Empire".

Archaeology: Researchers have been stunned by the size of Ardoch Roman Fort (Image: History Hit)

Hadrian's Wall: An artist's impression of Roman soldiers building Hadrian's Wall (Image: GETTY)

Ardoch Roman Fort sits north east of the village of Braco, and around 45 miles north of Glasgow.

The fort's multilayered nature and history was explored during History Hit's documentary, 'Fortress Britain: Ardoch Roman Fort'.

Here, particular significance was placed on the fort's exterior.

Many artefacts have been found at the site as well as in-depth research having taken place to better understand the way the Romans constructed forts.

Scotland: The fort is around 45 miles north of Glasgow (Image: Google Maps)

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Historian Rebecca Jones told History Hit about the "pioneering" nature of the site.

Researchers have unearthed not only one Roman fort but two: a first century Flavian fort on top of a second century fort which reused the original framework and changed the perimeters.

The show's presenter and researcher Tristan Hughes took viewers on a tour of the reused and renewed ditches which measure a lengthy depth of six feet.

He said: "It's astonishing, difficult to come up the sides even today, over there near to the fort itself, you can see some of the best preserved earthworks from Roman Britain - surviving to this day, it's absolutely astonishing."

Roman history: The fort is massive covering much of the moor it is located on (Image: History Hit)

Scotland history: The fort would have housed a number of timber buildings for the soldiers (Image: History Hit)

Previous excavations that took place in the late 19th century, while primitive, have helped today's researchers in matching the two sets of ditches to their respective Roman periods.

Ardoch itself would have had some sort of timber structure on top of the ramparts at the peak of its use, with a succession of timber buildings which consisted of barrack blocks, the central headquarters, and the commanding officer's house.

While Ardoch is today surrounded by sleepy moors, Ms Jones said it is vital that people imagine the hundreds of men that would have once frequented the site.

She said: "You'd have had soldiers on guard at nighttime, and you've really got to imagine something that's quite busy.

Archaeological discoveries: Some of the most groundbreaking discoveries on record (Image: Express Newspapers)

"Often it's good to think about when you've watched some film or a TV programme that's actually shown the Roman army - the battle scene at the beginning of Gladiator when they all come back and they&rsquore in the camp afterwards.

"It shows you an image of something that's really quite dirty and smelly and I think you've got to conjure up this isn't this lovely windswept moor, this was a busy active place full of soldiers."

In the area to the north of the fort a great number of marching camps have been found.

Two parts of the camps remain but much of what would have been the Romans' attacking base are only visible through crop markings as seen from the air, some spanning 130 acres in size.

Roman camp: A reconstruction of what a Roman marching camp at Ardoch would have looked like (Image: History Hit)

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Roman presence in Britain gradually faded from 370 AD.

Each outpost in the country left at different times.

The soldiers left for Rome which was at the time under attack.

Britain subsequently fell into chaos with native tribes and foreign invaders battling it out for power.

There was a great spread of Anglos, Saxons and Franks after the Romans left.


Religious Site

By the 5th century the Romans had abandoned their defence of Britain and the fort at Reculver had fallen into disuse.

An Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded on the site in 669, reusing the existing defences, and the church of St Mary was built near the centre of the earlier fort. Documentary evidence suggests that the site had ceased to function as a monastic house by the 10th century, after which time the church became the parish church of Reculver.

Remodelling of the church in the 12th century included the addition of tall twin towers.

The medieval church was partly demolished in 1805, when much of the stone was reused to construct a new church on higher ground at Hillborough, but the twin towers were left. They were bought, repaired and underpinned by Trinity House in 1809.


Kirkham’s Lost Roman Fort

Kirkham Roman Fort stood on top of Carr Hill, just a little way from Kirkham’s town centre today. It was the final one in a succession of Roman structures built there. Before its construction the site was used three times as a temporary Roman marching camp, the first one in around 70 AD when the Romans entered Lancashire and the last one at the end of the 90s AD. It was also used as a signal station, where fires would be lit to warn of incoming danger. The evidence for the station comes from a small round structure which has large post holes probably for a tower, surrounded by a big ‘V’ shaped ditch and a smaller palisade trench (see our page on the Mellor signal station here). Finally in 120 AD a permanent fort was built of local red sandstone and this would last for the next thirty to forty years.

Looking down Carr Road from the top of Carr Hill where the fort once stood

On this page we’ll take a look at the history of the fort, and at the end give a description so that you can go and stand exactly where it was, and look out at the views the Romans once saw.

Why Kirkham?

The fort was sited to protect an important sea route inland to Ribchester by road and Walton le Dale by river.

The Roman road from Kirkham to the fort at Ribchester travelled eastwards and passed through present day Preston. The route is still marked on the modern map as Watling Street. There are two straight sections that lie directly over the original Roman one. The first goes through the Fulwood and Sharoe Green area. The modern road then briefly curves around Fulwood Barracks (the Roman road would go straight through) and then rejoins the second straight section immediately after. This heads through Brookfield and then on out to Ribchester. (For a very good overview of the road in its present form and the route it took see the Roman Roads of Britain website page here.)

The fort would have overlooked the River Ribble or Belisama Fluvius (Beautiful River) as the Romans called it. This lead directly to the Roman Military industrial site and supply depot at Walton le Dale (see our page on it here)

Kirkham was larger than normal auxiliary forts, covering almost 7 acres, and we show its outline in black on the satellite picture below. Excavations have shown it had a cobbled area around the outer defences, perhaps an exclusion zone that the local population could not enter. It’s not clear whether it held a thousand infantry men, or five hundred cavalry, but probably it was the latter. Evidence for this is that a Reiter (or rider) Tombstone was found in Kirkham Parish Church in 1844 when renovations were taking place. These type of monuments feature a Roman cavalryman riding down a local ‘barbarian’. Similar ones have been found at Lancaster and Chester but they are very rare nationally with only 22 found in the whole country. Unfortunately the Kirkham one does not survive as soon after its discovery it was broken up to make hardcore for the church path! The other clue that the fort was for cavalry is that horse bedding and straw have been discovered outside the stronghold giving an indication of large scale stabling.

Kirkham Roman Fort overlaid on the modern street plan. The black rectangle shows where the fort was, the red line marks the eastern gate. The brown V is the vicus area. The blue circle marks the bath house and the yellow C marks the cemetery. The approximate locations of the sites are based on an Oxford Archaeology North report and a W. Thompson Watkins book – see reference section. Satellite image courtesy of Google Earth / Google Maps

The Roman Baths

The Roman Bath House was located in the present day St Michael’s Road area, now covered with houses. It’s marked by a blue circle in the above satellite picture. The baths were just 70 metres north-east of the fort. The site was selected as it was close to the bank of Carr Brook and the baths would need a large amount of water to function. Some recent limited excavation led to the discovery of a curved heated room. It’s not known if the curve is part of a circular room, or is just a semi-circular apse of a larger room. The room was definitely heated by a hypocaust, as part of the pilae that support such a floor were found. It could either have been a laconium (hot dry room) or caldarium (hot steam room). There is a circular laconium at nearby Ribchester Roman Baths (see our page on them here).

The vicus extended out from the east gate of the fort into the present day Myrtle Drive area, south of the St Michael’s Road bath site. It’s marked by a brown V in the above satellite picture. Over the years there have been plenty of finds of roman brick, pottery including samian (a fine reddish-brown ware) , mortaria (coarse kitchen ware), amphora (large storage jars) and a roman pottery lamp. Leather shoes, leather waste, iron nails and coins have also been dug up. The most famous find is a shield boss near Carr / Dow Brook, more on which later. There was also possibly an industrial area to the south of the fort.

The Life of the Fort

The relatively short lifespan of the fort would have witnessed some dramatic events. In 118 AD there was a Brigantian revolt which led to a large scale loss of Roman soldiers in the north. A second revolt occurred in 154 AD and there was further trouble throughout the 160s AD. The fort was abandoned sometime around the mid second century, 150-160 AD. This was normal policy in Roman times to move troops to a new fort in a new area, once the area they had garrisoned had been sufficiently brought ‘under control’. So despite the intermittent trouble, the Romans must have felt relatively secure by the end of the fort’s lifetime to make the decision to close it. However we know that Roman activity continued in the area as there was a coin hoard buried around 240 AD in Poulton Street (now in the Harris Museum at Preston) which had coins from 114-238 AD. A second hoard was found at Treales, less than a mile from the fort. It was buried around 270 AD and is thought to be associated with a Romano-British settlement there.

Antiquarians start to notice the fort

During the 1700s a large quantity of Roman stone was dug up and removed from the site. In 1800 a Mr.Willacy, a local school teacher, found a shield boss (the central metal part of a shield – also called an umbo) in the stream close to where the bathhouse once stood. This was a find of major historical importance and it came into possession of Charles Towneley (of the well known Burnley family of Towneley Hall ) and he passed it on to the British Museum, where it is still held. Click the link here to see the actual object, and more impressively the sketch of the elaborate carvings on it. It shows the Roman god Mars flanked by two naked warriors holding spears, and is further adorned with eagles, winged victories and battle trophies.

Mr. Willacy also witnessed some drainage excavations that revealed the foundations of the fort described as “massy chiseled red sandstone.” This was where the modern main road called Dowbridge now cuts through the fort. Another local report described what was probably an excavation of the bathhouse recording a “pavement of thick, rude, red brick tiles, and twice over with the officers of the Ordnance Survey, threw out a surprising quantity of broken tiles, paterae, burnt bones etc. Here too the drainage of the encampment had its outlet into the Dow, where Mr. Loxham picked up a bone needle and Mr. Willacy two coins of Hadrian.”

The Roman cemetery was located on the opposite side of Carr Brook (then called Dow Brook) just a little way away from the site of the bathhouse, somewhere near the present day Brook Farm. A Mr. Loxham found an urn containing bones and an iron amulet in 1840. Nine years later near the same spot he discovered around a dozen more, filled with ashes and burnt bone as well as a small unguent bottle and an iron axe. There are also reports of urns being found in the area near Carr Hill School.

Many of the finds used to be on show at Kirkham Museum, which has sadly now closed. However, an excellent webpage on the history of St Michael’s Church shows pictures of the finds in photographs taken within the museum. The pictures are of good quality and if you enlarge the webpage you can inspect them in detail and read the small interpretation signs that accompany them. See the page by clicking here.

Visiting the site of the fort today

North-West Corner of the Kirkham fort

Although there are no surface structures surviving, you can still see it had commanding views at the north-western corner of the fort, which is probably why the site was chosen, along with its proximity to the brook for water. Much of the other views are obscured by housing. You can also see Kirkham Windmill, now converted into a house.

Start in the centre of Kirkham – there’s lots of parking and some of it is free. Head up the main road of Poulton Street / Preston Street, which continues as a street called Dowbridge. Just before you reach Carr Street to your left, stop: here you are at the north-west corner of the Roman fort. There are good views down Carr Street to the fields beyond, and you will have noted from your walk you are on a second hill (the first hill is in Kirkham centre). This was a good vantage point for the fort with steep slopes leading up to its ramparts and it was protected on one side by the stream of Carr Brook (or Dow Brook) on its north-easterly side. Continue down Dowbridge and you are passing through the heart of the fort, where the Roman foundation ruins were seen in the description above. When you reach the road labelled Roman Way on your right, stop. This is more or less where the eastern gate of the fort was and we’ve marked it with a red line in the above satellite picture. Beyond it in the Myrtle Drive area was the vicus, and many finds have been dug up in this region. If you cross over the main road leading into Roman Way you would be heading to the south-east corner of the fort. See the fort laid out on the Google map above this text and you can see where it would have been in the modern street plan.

The Eastern Gate would be about here (note the Roman Way street sign)

For photos of a recent garden excavation in Myrtle Drive see the Wyre Archaeology website here. Their webpage has some really interesting pictures and discussion on what they found. The Roman baths were in the area of St Michael’s Road, and a full report of some recent limited excavation can seen at the Oxford Archaeology North website, where you can download the pdf report (see here.)

On the same site Kirkham Windmill

A drive away:

St Michaels Road Kirkham Archaeological Watching Brief, Oxford Archaeology North (2010) available at https://library.thehumanjourney.net/2307/

South Ribble Primary Schools Local History Project : The Romans in Central Lancashire, Dr David Hunt

Roman Lancashire, W. Thompson Watkin (1883) republished 2007 Azorabooks

Disaster at Kirkham Fort, D. Savage and the children of Year 5 St. Michael’s CE School (undated book published by the school) ISBN 0954067908

Walking Roman Roads in the Fylde and the Ribble Valley, Philip Graystone (1996) Centre for North-West Regional Studies University of Lancaster

Triumphant Rider: The Lancaster Roman Cavalry Tombstone, Stephen Bull (2007), Lancashire Museums

University of Lancaster Centre for North West Regional Studies Archaeology Conference 4 th March (1995) Recent Excavations at Kirkham, Lancashire presented by Katharine Buxton- (summary sheet of above talk)


The forts

The town thrived for nearly 200 years, until in about AD 250 a drastic change occurred in response to both conflicts within the empire and attacks on the Roman province of Britain from Saxon and Frankish raiders. The centre of the settlement with all its buildings, even the monumental arch, was demolished and replaced by two successive forts.

The second of these, built in stone shortly after about AD 273, is the most prominent feature on the site today. It formed part of a chain of shore forts defending the eastern and southern coasts of Britain (and, in Richborough&rsquos case, the Wantsum Channel) from the late 3rd century.

We have no idea how much of the town was militarised, or indeed how much of it remained in occupation. However, Richborough continued to be important as the entrance to Britain: at the very end of the Roman occupation, it was the last site in the province of Britannia to which Roman coins were supplied. This makes it one of the last remaining official points of Roman occupation, probably well into the 5th century.


Site of Roman fort, Abergavenny

Site of Roman fort

The car park occupies the site where the Romans built a fort in 55-57AD. It linked with forts at Usk and Brecon to try to control the fierce local tribe of the Silures. It was rebuilt several times over the next 200 years. The image on the right, showing how the fort may have looked, is by Sally Davies and is reproduced with thanks to Abergavenny Museum.

Excavations have found two barrack blocks, window glass and a hoard of clay sling bullets. The metal finds include three lobed hinges from lorica segmentata. This was the classic plate-armour worn by legionaries in the second half of the 1st century AD.

An extremely unusual find from the Orchard Site excavations was a splendid bronze strap-hook with Celtic decoration. This was used to fasten the sword-belt of a wealthy warrior. It may have been made by a local Silurian craftsman in the period 50-70AD. The drawings of it on the left, courtesy of Abergavenny Museum, are by Kevin Blockley.

The site also produced a link of chain mail and a high proportion of mid-first century horse harness. These finds probably represent the equipment of lightly-armed auxiliary cavalry.

Roman pottery and coins, as well as other many other finds, can be seen in the Abergavenny Museum and the National Museum of Wales. The Romans chucked their rubbish over the steep bank down to the Usk river, which flows across the Castle Meadows below. If you look over the wall at the rear of the car park you can see that the fort controlled the crossings of the Usk river and, to the left, the Gavenny river where it joins the Usk. The Roman name for Abergavenny, Gobannia, comes from the same source as Gavenny, as explained here.

Archaeologists had never found remnants of the Romans&rsquo roads in Abergavenny until 2015, when a section was uncovered behind the former Gunter mansion in Cross Street.

This site hosted the sheep market between 1825 and 1863. Previously animals had been sold on the streets, but after receiving complaints about the mess and inconvenience for townsfolk the Town Commissioners created the first enclosed market. In 1863 the sheep market moved to the Cattle Market at the end of Market Street.


On the move

This lends weight to what we have long thought, that Roman frontier units were not static entities stuck in one place, but had men all over the place. It is significant that the vast majority of the troops were not even stationed in their own home base, but were elsewhere. Corbridge was the big granary fort at the eastern end of the Stanegate (and this is the only evidence we have of I Tungrorum occupying it, at almost quingenary strength). It is also interesting to see how far afield some of the troops were, for whatever reason. God alone knows what the men in Gaul were doing there (though bear in mind that I Tungrorum was technically a Gallo-Belgic unit) but the six men with a centurion were probably garrisoning an outpost or on patrol. I like to think that the single man below the pay detachment was away on leave, and we have at least a dozen formulaic leave requests written by soldiers in the fort to lend weight to this: 'I, [so-and-so], ask that you consider me a worthy person to grant leave at [such-a-place]'. The centurion in London was probably carrying official correspondence to the governor's office. Once again, we have evidence of centurions acting as couriers like this.


Portus Lemanis: The Forgotten Saxon Shore Fort

Some of the remaining walls of the fortifications at Portus Lemanis, with Lympne Castle in the background. (Credit: Me)

The ‘Antonine Itinerary’, effectively a sort of ‘map’ listing stations and settlements and their distances from each other along various roads of the Roman Empire was, allegedly, commissioned by Emperor Antoninus Pius.

Chances are it wasn’t – with Diocletian or Caracalla being most likely responsible for it, but that’s a tale for another time. Or not at all since the tale is the great mystery of “Who asked for the bloody map?” which is hardly the most thrilling episode in Roman history.

Either way the Iter Britanniarum, the list of Roman places in Britain, is where we obtain a lot of our knowledge of the history of our Roman settlements from. Many of them were obviously in fine locations, on main roads with wells, near water-sources and all the other amenities Romans would have expected. Therefore a lot of our Roman history is buried under streets we walk in towns and cities we still live in.

But there are also places now crumbled, ruined, forgotten and sadly barely explored in the middle of fields, on the tops of hills and overgrown and sorry. Portus Lemanis, also known as Lemanae, is one such place.

Barely visible, shrouded behind trees – there is something about this site that just upsets me! (Credit: Me)

On the beautiful southeast Kent coast, only a couple of miles from Hythe, all that remains to be seen of Portus Lemanis are a few aging and crumbled walls. Even then they can only be seen from a distance without permission of the landowner, because they are on private land. That is why my images are from such a long way away.

Those walls are indicative of a Saxon Shore Fort – this was the series of fortifications made along the south and east coasts of England by the Romans to spot and prevent Saxon invasions. In fact evidence seems to suggest the walls themselves are made of reclaimed stones and tiles so there was likely some kind of settlement nearby at the time of the fort’s building.

What’s significant about Portus Lemanis, though, is the number of tiles found there stamped with the inscriptions ‘CL BR’ – This stands for Classis Britannica and was, effectively, the Romano-British Navy, charged with protecting the waters of the English Channel. There is also an inscription and dedication to Neptune, Roman God of the sea, by Lucius Aufidius Pantera (epic name) who was prefect of the Classis Britannica.

What does this mean? Well, if the Classis Britannica had such a hand in building Portus Lemanis, or at least potentially adapting whatever settlement was there into a fortification, and if their prefect made a dedication there, they must have thought it was an important fort. There are suggestions the Classis Britannica may have even been based there at some point, which would make this one of the most significant 3 rd century Roman sites in the UK that is basically an unexplored pile of rubble in a private field.

It deserves a thorough exploration and potentially a fucking museum!

There are still significant structures visible above surface, this shot has likely been taken from the top path that goes through the village of Lympne. Well worth a walk, especially with Port Lympne Wild Animal Park nearby, you can often get some free zoo! (credit: Nick Smith / Part of Stutfall Castle, a Roman fort / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Roughly where the path is that I took my photos from is around where the shoreline would have been in Roman times, so it is also a stark and shocking reminder of how the land changes. The Romney Marsh that it looks down upon probably owes a little of its added land over the last 1,800 years to silting from the rivers and streams, particularly the River Rother (still one of the best named rivers in the UK). Most of it, though, is owed to reclamation built up since, likely, around the 12 th or 13 th century.

It all means this once significant Roman port now lies a few miles or so inland, indeed the views from the top of the hill, over the marsh, are absolutely stunning and there is a public footpath at the top that also affords decent views of Portus Lemanis depending on the condition of the trees, hedges and undergrowth.

The other building you can see on the top of the hill is Lympne Castle, in the modern village of Lympne. I believe it dates back to around the 13 th century and is today mainly used as a venue – mostly for weddings. So if you fancy getting a significant Roman port in the background of your wedding photos I’m sure you can give them a shout and they’ll sort something out but…I’ve walked around there and seen the kinds of cars parked when there’s a do on…It ain’t cheap!

I extended a long, arduous, sunkissed walk because I wanted to share Portus Lemanis with people. I think it’s a real shame that these ruins are just left as they are. The sandy-clay soil has seen much erosion and subsidence and year on year whatever lies beneath is being lost to us. There have only been a couple of serious excavations of the site, one in the 1850s and one in the 1970s. I think modern archaeology and modern archaeological methods could reveal much of the hidden mysteries without even needing to disrupt the earth. Tools like ground penetrating radar could reveal much that we don’t know – and who knows what artefacts lie below?

An image from some excavations done at the site between 1976-1978 that show the significant amount of material beneath the surface (this was an excavation of the East Gate, I believe) just begging to be explored, catalogued and understood. (Credit: John Baker CC-BY-SA 2.0)

I would have loved to have got some better close-up shots, but as mentioned this is private land and so for me to try to do so would be trespassing. It’s a site kept hidden, a part of all of our history left merely to be swallowed by the soil, with only a distant glance and signs on some barely trodden footpaths to indicate that this is anything of significance at all.

Or have you come here from local interest and don’t know a lot about Roman history? Catch up with my ‘Roman History in a Nutshell’ series.


Roman Fort - History

Birrens Roman Fort is located on a major overland route north. Roman forces moved into the area circa-AD 80 and built several temporary camps to accommodate their field army. However, the strategic importance of the site prompted construction of a permanent outpost. The fort was rebuilt in AD 158 and probably remained in use for the rest of the Second Century AD.

Birrens Roman Fort is located on a major overland route through the southern uplands connecting Carlisle with the Clyde valley. This key arterial route, which today is followed by the A74(M) motorway and the western mainline, was also on the main line of advance for Roman forces when they invaded southern Scotland circa-AD 80. Under the command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a large field army moved into the area and spent a year campaigning against local tribes. A number of large marching camps, temporary enclosures built to protect a sizeable field army, were established in the immediate area at this time. The site of Birrens Roman Fort was also fortified around this time with a small temporary camp aligned on an east-west axis, possibly a small facility to secure the key nodal site when the army was away from their temporary bases. This site was later replaced by a permanent facility, Birrens Roman Fort, sometime between AD 80 and AD 120.

The fort, which was known as Blatobulgio, was built by the Twentieth Legion ( Legio XX Valeria Victrix ). It was built upon a natural rise at the confluence of the Mein Water and Middlebie Burn. It was an earth and timber structure partially raised over the early enclosure but aligned on a north-south axis. The layout seems to have been typical of forts of the period and would have had a headquarters building in the centre surrounded by barracks, workshops, granaries and a Commanding Officer's house. The garrison of the fort is believed to have been the First Nervian Cohort of Germans ( Cohors I Nerviorum Germanorum Milliaria Equitata ), a one thousand strong mixed unit of infantry and cavalry traditionally recruited from western Germany.

The Romans consolidated their occupation along the Tyne-Solway isthmus circa-AD 87 and a few decades later constructed Hadrian's Wall with Birrens Roman Fort being maintained as an outpost to the north. However, in AD 138 the Romans advanced back into Scotland in force and established a new frontier, the Antonine Wall, along the Clyde-Forth isthmus. Most of the garrisons of forts along Hadrian's Wall moved north and Birrens may have been abandoned at this time.

Birrens Roman Fort was rebuilt in AD 158 presumably as a result of the re-activation of the Hadrianic frontier after the abandonment of the Antonine Wall. The upgraded fort was extended to the north and also had an additional annexe extending to the west. The northern side, which was vulnerable due to the rising ground beyond, was protected by no less than four defensive ditches. The garrison at this time is believed to have been the Second Cohort of Tungrians ( Cohors Secundae Tungrorum Milliaria Equitata ), a one thousand strong mixed unit of infantry and cavalry raised in Belgium. It is not clear how long the fort remained occupied but, to date, no evidence has been found of use beyond the end of the second century AD.

Burns R (2009). The Last Frontier: The Roman Invasions of Scotland . Neil Wilson Publishing, London.

Campbell, D.B (2009). Roman Auxiliary Forts 27BC-AD378 . Osprey, Oxford.

CANMORE (2018). Birrens: Roman Marching Camp .

CANMORE (2018). Birrens: Roman Fort .

Fields, N (2005). Rome’s Northern Frontier AD 70-235 . Osprey, Oxford.

Hartley, B.R (1972). The Roman Occupations of Scotland .

Keppie, L (1994). Roman Inscriptions and Sculpture from Birrens. Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, no. 69 .

Ordnance Survey, Historic England and RCAHMW (2016). Roman Britain. 1:625,000 Scale . Ordnance Survey, Southampton.

Stell, G (1996). Dumfries and Galloway: Exploring Scotland's Heritage . Edinburgh.


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