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Roman Scotland

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Discover Roman Scotland

The Roman Empire and Roman culture did not come to a sudden halt at Hadrian’s Wall. The presence of the Romans and their influence can be found across Scotland, a region they referred to as Caledonia. There is a greater density of Roman marching camps in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe, because of at least four major attempts to subdue the region.

The Romans had briefly invaded Britain in 55BC under Julius Caesar, but it was not until AD43, while Claudius was Emperor, that they made a concerted effort to conquer the British mainland. It took them 30 years to consolidate their power in the countries we identify as England and Wales today, and then they looked north to the region they called Caledonia and which we identify with modern Scotland.

Campaigns under Quintus Petilius Cerialis and Gnaeus Julius Agricola commenced from around AD70, with Agricola establishing Trimontium around AD80. Roman records refer to a major battle taking place at Grapius Mons, believed to refer to a location somewhere in the Grampians, although this has never been proven.

There is evidence that the Romans did build some forts along what would later become the line of the Antonine Wall, while others were constructed along the Gask Ridge in Perthshire and there is also evidence for fortifications even further north.

The Romans circumnavigated Scotland building up their knowledge of the landscape and people that inhabited this region. However, it seems that they could not, or did not wish to extend their power over these lands and they fell back south to Trimontium, which became a major hub of their road network north of Hadrian’s Wall and their most northerly settlement and military outpost.

Trimontium appears to have first been vacated around AD105 with a suggestion that at this point the Romans withdrew from Caledonia. The Emperor Hadrian decided to consolidate Roman power in Britannia, completing Hadrian’s Wall, marking the northern boundary of the Roman Empire, around AD122. However, the consensus is that Trimontium was reoccupied sometime prior to AD142 leading up to the building of the Antonine Wall.

 
 

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