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The Trimontium Museum Archive

The Offensive Romans (Burnswark Project).

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This document, a set of interpretive panels produced for an associated exhibition, detail the findings of the 2015 Burnswark Hill Project. They seek to answer the question: Is Burnswark Hill the site of a bloody conflict between invading Romans and the Iron Age people of Southern Scotland?

Burnswark Hill is in Dumfriesshire, in south-western Scotland. At the top of the hill are the remains of a 17 acre hill fort that was built in the Early Iron Age. The site is unique for a number of reasons, including the shape of the Roman camps on either side of the hill fort and the large earth mounds known as the ‘Three Brethren’.

Image shows aerial view of Burnswark from the east.

The first major excavation of the site, in 1898, argued that Burnswark was the site of a military conflict. However, in the 1960s and 1970s there was a re-examination of the evidence, which instead suggested that the site was used as a Roman training camp.

This document tackles this second view by concentrating on the most recent study of the site: the 2015 Burnswark Project. It details the research methods employed and the subsequent analysis. This project revealed a number of interesting finds, including weaponry such as sling bullets. It also reveals the origins of the materials found, such as lead, to create bullets for the slings.   

There are images throughout the document of the site and key artefacts uncovered during the study.

As a result, this a useful resource for understanding Burnswark Hill and Roman life in Scotland more broadly.

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