Archaeologists will next week begin the search for an elusive Roman fort believed to be located somewhere in the Angus and Aberdeenshire countryside.
Dr Birgitta Hoffmann, Co-Director of The Roman GaskProject, based at the University of Liverpool, will lead a team of experienced volunteers in their search for a Roman fort which is believed to exist, but has been ‘missing’ for almost 2,000 years. It’s not certain that a fort exists, but if it does, it is likely to lie somewhere between the last known (and most northerly) fort at Stracathro (Brechin) and the north east coast.
If a fort is located, it would be the first such discovery beyond the Antonine Wall in around 30 years, and would form part of the Gask frontier, the oldest Roman land frontier in the world which stretches from just north of Stirling up to Stracathro. The frontier comprises of a series of Roman forts and watchtowers, with a legionary fortress near Blairgowrie.
The archaeologists will be using a variety of non-invasive techniques to investigate various sites. Any sites which have the potential to be Roman will then be investigated by the Project from the air later in the year, with the potential for a follow up excavation in 2014.
Dr Hoffmann described the survey as exciting, commenting “We came last year to investigate Scotland’s most northerly Roman fort, but now we’re back looking for the lost fort. We’re not sure what exactly we’ll find, but we’re hoping to find something, and if it is a Roman fort, it will help to complete our understanding of the Romans in Scotland.
We know they built forts as far north as Brechin, and we even have evidence that they marched as far as Elgin, but that’s it, but we think there’s much more than that. The problem is that they weren’t around long enough to build buildings out of stone, instead they used timber and turf which tends to disappear over time. So instead of just looking for lumps and bumps in the ground, we have to look at the local geography, old settlements, and a host of other evidence which will help us to pinpoint likely sites.
People are always surprised when I tell them about the Roman occupation of the area – they think the Romans never got any further than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall which simply isn’t true. The truth is, we don’t know how far north they got, but we’re hoping that the work of The Roman GaskProject will change that this year.”