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The Romans in Scotland

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Romans in the Borders

The successful Roman invasion of Britain in AD43 under Emperor Claudius (after the brief invasions by Julius Caesar in 55 and 54BC) had, within 30 years, consolidated Roman power and influence across modern day England and Wales. The Romans then looked north, to Scotland, known as Caledonia.

Roman influence did not come to a halt at Hadrian’s Wall, it can be traced across the breadth of modern-day Scotland. The region contains one of the highest densities of Roman marching camps in Europe, a legacy of at least four major campaigns to subdue the locals.

As part of this push northwards, Gnaeus Julius Agricola established Trimontium around AD80. Evidence exists to indicate the Romans built forts along what would later become the line of the Antonine Wall, along the Gask Ridge in Perthshire and 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 after a few years (probably the late AD80s) they fell back south to Trimontium. This first fort was burned and abandoned about AD115 -120

After the building of Hadrian’s Wall in the AD120s the Romans then pushed north again and reconstructed Trimontium which became a major hub of their road network north of Hadrian’s Wall and their most northerly settlement and military outpost until it was ultimately destroyed by fire in the AD180s, probably during a major uprising.

Aerial view of the fields where the Roman fort Trimontium lay. The outline of the fort is still visible in the cropmarks.
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