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Shades of Empire: The Roman Presence in Scotland

For many years, in light of there being no evidence to the contrary, Tacitus's account was accepted as being correct. However, more recently, archaeological evidence has cast doubt on his claims. The Gask Ridge, Britain's most northerly Roman frontier runs from Glenbank, north of Dunblane, through the Stirlingshire countryside and into Perthshire. Traditionally, it was thought that the frontier was constructed by Agricola in around AD 80 and that the Romans only managed to maintain this position in Scotland for a short time. However, recent excavations have uncovered evidence that the frontier was occupied for longer than was previously thought.

Archaeologists from the Roman Gask Project based at the
coin with the head of Emperor Domitian
© SCRAN
University of Liverpool have discovered evidence that forts along the frontier were rebuilt at least once, and, in some cases, possibly twice. This suggests that the structures were in use for a number of years, rather than months. The Project has also discovered pottery, glass and coins that indicate that the site could have been occupied from the AD 70s or even earlier, making the frontier 10 or more years older than previously thought with a possible period of occupation of around 15 years.

As well as making the Gask Frontier the oldest Roman frontier in Britain, this would make it the oldest Roman frontier in the World.


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