Scotland's History Debates Roman Scotland


The Scotland's History online debates are now closed.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed over the two years that they ran and made the debates lively, informative and engaging.

Roman Scotland

Debate: Scotland and Ireland escaped Roman occupation - a fate not shared by England and Wales. Could this historical difference account for the differing characteristics of the nations?

The Caledonian tribes fight the Roman invaders at Mons Graupius.

From A History of Scotland: The Last of the Free.

Fiona Watson explores the northern boundary of Roman influence.

From In Search of Scotland.


stewart short, chryston glasgow 2009-12-08

the english like the romans had a big ego problem they appear to have copied their ways in trying to overpower scotland and ireland they wonder why we dont rate them as a nation they are a fragmented bunch the north of england is badly served by london rulers they have the current parlaiment they deserve just a pity most scots cant see it. the chickens are coming home to roost all good englishmen should migrate to scotland before its to late.

Alan Park, Stirling 2009-12-08

I'd like to respond to Andy from "Albion" (an oblique reference to England?) re his first comment of 30/11/09. Agricola could hardly be said to have conquered Scotland. All of Scotland was never occupied permanently at any time during the Roman period. The fact that even Roman Emperors required to personally attend on campaign in Scotland during the centuries following Agricola attests to that. The question is a valid one because Scotland, despite centuries of attempted domination from its larger neighbour and 300 years of union, still maintains a separate cultural identity, Gaelic is still spoken and the Scots language continues in a mixed form with English. The reasons for this will be complex, but the continued survival of a Celtic culture into the early medieval period is undoubtedly a factor. Finally, to say, as Andy has, that "Northern Britan" was never a "Scottish Kingdom" is nonsense and appears to be a comment driven by English nationalism more than historical accuracy.

andy, albion 2009-12-01

Just wanted to add a quote from Tacitus a 'Life of Agricola' chapter 24.

'Its extent is small when compared with Britain, but exceeds the islands of our seas. In soil and climate, in the disposition, temper, and habits of its population, it differs but little from Britain. We know most of its harbours and approaches, and that through the intercourse of commerce. One of the petty kings of the nation, driven out by internal faction, had been received by Agricola, who detained him under the semblance of friendship till he could make use of him. I have often heard him say that a single legion with a few auxiliaries could conquer and occupy Ireland, and that it would have a salutary effect on Britain for the Roman arms to be seen everywhere, and for freedom, so to speak, to be banished from its sight.

Has the tone that the Romans did not fear or trouble themselves over Ireland

Andy, Albion 2009-12-01

What a strange and truely bizzar question. Any school boy worth his salt could run off the marching camps of Agricola. Just ask youself this question 'why do Scots talk in English, not Scottish or Gaelic?' The truth is that Northern Britan ' Britannia Albion' as it was known to Rome, was never a Scottish kingdom

John Carraway, New York, USA 2009-09-14

Ireland and Scotland escaped occupation by the Romans because Scotland was strong enough to stop them. The Romans probably believed that Ireland was just as strong or wasn't worth occupying. As it was, they already had most of Europe (France, Spain, Greece, etc.) which was more than enough. Unfortunately, many years after 1066, the Scots were outnumbered by the hordes of Normans added to the English army after years of French occupation. I'm against the French for 1066, and the English for conquering Scotland and Ireland. I believe it should have remained as the Romans left it: Scotland and Ireland as independent nations.

Devorguila, in exile no longer 2009-02-15

one last try before I hang up my cloak: BBCMod: it's not your fault, but pleeeze get an IT man in.
if this gets thru I'll try again (fourth this week - failed utterly) x Dev

BBC Scotland Moderator - Hi Dev this is the first comment we have received from you this week - keep trying!

A Bhrian Rois, Glaschu, Alba. 2009-02-07

Hi Devorguila, have you been trying to get a text thru since the start of the Eng repeats? That's lousy Dev! You sound a good voice lost to this debate too, (as long as ye agree wi me) lol, jokin m8. Ab Initio of the series as a whole, did you get txt thru then ok? Quite often I've tried to submit txt & it comes up failure to connect, or words to that effect, but it still goes thru. Ab Initio when that phrase was appearin I kept re-submittin but I found it was gettin thru anyway but duplicated. Try again.!

Devorguila, in exile no longer 2009-02-06

yes, Brian - hit it in one - and I'm jest aboot to give it a rest 'cos yer richt there 'n a-a - cut off in mah prime - not a single post gotten thru since the repeats...

Torrance, Ribble Valley 2009-02-04

I congratulate the team that made these programmes and in particulsr Neil Oliver in his narrations. I am a little disappointed by the little time devoted to the Romans and also the period before the invasion of the Normans. Many people think that the border was set by Hadrian's wall and know little about the Antonine wall between thw Clyde and Forth. The battle of Mons Graupius was mentiond and that the Romans defeated the Caledons. Tacitus in his description of the battle says that 15,000 roman troops defeated a force of 30,000 of Caledons. I wonder who counted them and were they counted in I's, V's, X's, or C's. There were large forts and settlements in Ardoch and Inchtuthil and several marching camps between the two.A garrison of some 5000 men occupied the Tay Valley.

Brian Ross, Glasgow. 2009-02-02

Haha BBC Sco Mod you're at the noise up ain't ye man, lol, ye cut that poor guy (girl?) aff in his/her prime there by the looks ay it. Poor Devorguilla's naw had a word in fae the start man. I was looking forward to pickin up more about the Picts n stuff fae I first read the guy's/girl's posts. Ps: Devorguilla or BBC Sco Mod, is Devorguilla the name of John Balliol's mum? M'sure I picked that up somewhere. Ta.

Devorguila, in exile no longer 2009-02-02

thank you moderator for acting on Brian's suggestion: now may I hazard to post my reply to Pict in Cornwall

-BBC Scotland Moderator-

Hi Devorguila, absolutely. It was a fair point from Brian to remove some duplicate postings - hope it didn't annoy you.

The Wallace, Elderslie, SCO. 2009-01-31

Of all the things to have I tell ye, Freedom is most fine, Never submit to live my son in slavery's bonds entwined.
(Oft said proverb of The Wallace)

Brian Ross, Scotland, Celtic Isles. 2009-01-31

Think... would an arrogant race condescend themselves by giving a global empire a name fuelled by a parochial minded slight on a wee province in another country?
OR would it want to display
its own greatness by naming it after itself? "Britannia." Ah yi just cant help some people from living in denial, however they'll come closer to freedom's door when (if) they ever recognise the truth. Hell pay them that know it yet choose to perpetuate division & spite. (And the truth shall set ye FREE)

Brian Boru Ross, Glasgow, SCO, Celtic Isles. 2009-01-31

Some KNOW it but think they're beat, (no heart in em) so they make like they're on the winning side, try & validate allowing themselves to be called British with lightweight excuses like "We weren't called Gt.Britain because Britannia enlarged encapsulating / colonising Sco (Caledonia), we were named Gt.Britain to flick a 'V' sign at some wee unheard of place in France called Lesser Britain! (lol) Tell me if yi really think an arrogant race would condescend themselves,
Go to next post>>

Brian Boru Ross, Glasgow, Celtic Isles. 2009-01-30

Aonghus O'Ceallaigh, Birmingham, et al. I agree with you wholehearted, Eire is not of the British Isles & it's not just unbiased, educated Scots or Irish that think so! Even the unbiased folk from down in Britain know it, Westminster Sports Minister & Authorities- changed the name of the rugby team from The British Lions to The British & Irish Lions. By far the world o'er know it, (The W.W.) A lot of us are exposed to John Bull's media but we're not ALL so glaikit as to swallow it. Some KNOW it. To post 2>

Anonymous 2009-01-30

To the BBC Scotland Moderator, a wee request...
As you'll no doubt notice the one post from Devorguilla in Exile has been duplicated & publicised 'very many' times clogging up the page and slightly putting a blocker on the flow of the theme of what folk are saying.
Be much appreciated if you could trim down all these duplicates to just his/her original post, clearing the clutter and allowing the flow of the debate to continue. Ta for looking into this. Brian=R= G-gow. 13:43, 30/01/09.

-BBC Scotland Moderator-

Will do, Brian. Cheers.

kc, England 2009-01-26

Ireland and Scotland as far as geography are conerned were off he radar - to far away to be of any concern, and this was the case until England looked north and west.

Mark, Leighton 2009-01-25

@ Tam Kinnear

The majority of British

-BBC Scotland Moderator-

Hi Mark. Unfortunately your message seems to have come through cropped. If you re-send I'll happily post it up. Apologies, BSM.

Mark, Leighton 2009-01-25

@ Aonghus
'British Isles' is a geographical term,not political,and is universally accepted.You can no more opt out of it than Brazil can opt out of being part of South America.

Anthony ap Anthony, Cumberland 2009-01-25

Re: the question "Scotland and Ireland escaped Roman occupation ..."

How did Scotland escape Roman occupation ~ who built the Antonine Wall! And weren't the Sarmatian Cavalry part of the Roman Legions, the very same Sarmatians who contributed both the symbol of the Dragon to the ancient Britons, and the best horsemen skills of the age that made the ancient Britons between the Antonine Wall and Hadrian's Wall, the best horsemen of the Age of Arthur!

Mark, Leighton 2009-01-24

@ Aonghus (

-BBC Scotland Moderator-

Sorry, Mark. Looks like your message came through cropped. If you re-send I'll post it up.

Aonghus Ó'Ceallaigh, Birmingham 2009-01-24

Dave Lanarks, Ireland is recognised by who globally as part of the British Isles? The English media is it? Is it not for people from Ireland to decide if they are part of the "British Isles"?

Tom Jackson, Edinburgh 2009-01-16

Dear Devorguila,

I hope you haven't given up! The technical gliches on this site are a pain in the dowpie, but please don't let them put you off. You started a good thread re the heritage of the Pictish Nation. Can you add to that?

Devorguila, in exile 2009-01-15

"Brian Ross Gla: don't think nostalgia...."

- BBC Scotland Moderator-

Hi Devorguila, the message sent has already been posted on this debate forum. Kind regards.

Devorguila, in exile 2009-01-14

Brian Ross Gla: don't think nostalgia has much to do with it; sadly we live in an age where the powerful dictate what the lesser learn/have access to; probably a simple matter of obliterate & divide: we still have a legacy from the Victorians (& Empire) that the Brittonic southern half ruled the world; now that America seems to have taken over that role, they too are using similar techniques (not) to educate the masses in delicate details (of history, etc.). I agree with you, v. few care that much of Aberdeenshire still possesses the linguistic legacy; elsewhere, as has been graphically shown, the Norse did the job for them. Shetland & W.Isles have NO Pictish placenames left.



About the Scotland's History Debates

The Scotland's History debates ran from October 2008 to March 2011. They were run in conjunction with the TV series A History of Scotland.

By the time of closing the debates had received well over six thousand comments from members of the public.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed and made the debates so lively, informative and engaging.

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