The following has been accepted as a poster at RAC/TRAC 2018 in Edinburgh, 12-14 April 2018
Stracathro and its role on the Roman Gask Frontier
Over the last four years, the Roman Gask Project has been studying the Mearns, a complex landscape in Southern Aberdeenshire to understand the ways in which the Romans may have perceived and used this landscape during their occupation in the late first century AD, and during their campaigns in the second and third centuries.
The Roman remains as currently known consist of the permanent first-century fort of Stracathro and a range of marching camps which occupy very different terrains from a floodplain site to a camp that straddles a whale-back shaped hill.
There has so far been an uneasy feeling that the position of Stracathro inland and within sight of the largest hill forts in the area was unlikely to be Rome’s final installation to the north and that further forts were likely to be found closer to the coast (eg. at Stonehaven).
Crucial for this study was the reconstruction of the original landscape as modern infrastructure projects (like the construction of a number of fishing harbours and long distance road) and the large-scale draining of the ubiquitous wetlands have completely changed the original usability of the area.
The study highlights the crucial tactical importance of Stracathro within its original landscape and how its position allowed the Romans to combine the logistical needs of the fort’s garrison with the tactical needs of controlling access from the Mounth passes with minimum investment.
Birgitta Hoffmann, Director Roman Gask Project