Kaims Castle Fortlet

Report of excavations in 1900

The full text can be found in D.J.Christison “The Roman Road and Adjoining works from Ardoch to the Earn”, PSAS, 35, 1901.

Kaims Castle, “Cemps Castle, or more properly Camps Castle, from which the two forts of Ardoch and Innerpeffray” (i.e. Strageath) “are seen,” as Gordon puts it, is situated on the summit level of the road about 680′ above the sea, 2 1/4 miles from Ardoch, and 4 from Strageath, but whether Gordon’s statement that both camps are visible from it is correct, cannot at present he tested, as the view. all round is interrupted by trees. The immediate neighbourhood is tolerably level, but the fort stands on, or is carved out of, a little apparently natural mound 6′ to 15′ high, which curiously enough stands alone here. Roy, who calls it a “Post,” presumably meaning a Roman Post, gives a good plan of Kaims Castle, from which it is evident that it has suffered no injury since his day. In the account of Ardoch it is described as a terraced rather than a trenched work, a peculiarity of structure that had been remarked previously by Pococke; but our excavations showed that this was not the original character of the fortification, and that the terracing had been produced by natural or artificial filling up of trenches which still existed underneath

The ground plan is peculiar, perhaps unique, among forts in Scotland, in having a rectilinear rampart defended by curvilinear trenches, and at first sight it might; seem that a Roman fort had been placed within a native work, but I believe the peculiar plan was adopted simply from its being the easiest to carve out of the site.

As Mr Ross’s plan shows, the rectangle is not strictly symmetrical. The total dimensions of the work are about 200′ from east to west, by 180′ from north to south, and of this the interior from crest to crest of the rampart occupies about 85′ by 80′, or deducting the inner slope of the rampart, 75′ by 70′.

The Rampart after excavation was found to rise about 3′ above the inner area, and 8′ above the first trench in front. It showed only doubtful signs of being constructed in layers. The two trenches are carved out of the natural mound, and the spoil from the outer one appears to have been cast outwards, thus forming an outer mound or rampart only a few feet high.

The entrance is from the south by a straight paved way about 8′ wide, which branches from the Roman road about 30 yds off, and seemed to stop short at the rampart, but on further excavation it turned out that the gateway here had been purposely blocked up with earth, and that the original paved entrance existed underneath, the pavement, however, being replaced for a few feet by hard gravel, 3″ or 4″ thick.

The inner area. – In the middle, but nearer the entrance than the further side, a squarish paved space, averaging 35′ in width, was found, with a cobbled passage to the entrance. The pavement was of flags and other less suitable stones, roughly shaped, but fitted with some care. So many flagstones lay between the pavement and rampart as to indicate that the rest of the area had also been at least partially paved. Post holes were carefully looked for, but in vain. Not a single relic of any kind was found in or about the fort except two shapeless lumps of lead.

A long term research project to study the Romans north of the Antonine Wall