Excavations by the Roman Gask Project have revealed the smallest Roman temporary camp so far discovered north of the Antonine Wall. At 67.8 metres by 61.8 metres the site, discovered by Air photography, had been thought to be too small to be a Roman camp. As the camp has three different types of gateway it could be a training site where soldiers were taught how to build the camps that the army constructed for protection every night whilst on campaign
The 1.02 acre site lies at East Mid Lamberkin beside the A9, just to the west of Perth and was discovered from the air in the 1950’s by the late Professor J.K. St.Joseph. It had, though, been dismissed as a Roman camp because of its small size and because its three entrance gates appeared to follow three different designs. The Gask Project’s excavation, however, revealed a substantial V-shaped defensive ditch 3.2m wide and well over 1m deep of standard Roman military type and cut through an extremely hard rock and clay subsoil, whilst a geophysical survey showed at least one of the gates to be of a standard Roman design known as the Stracathro type. There can, thus, now be little doubt that the site is Roman.
Other Roman camps in this area tend to be much larger, typically 64 and 120 acres in area, with one site of 140 acres known and were used as temporary over-night defences by individual units or complete army groups during campaigns, but it is possible that this small site was constructed as a training exercise during manoeuvres, or to protect a fairly small group of Roman soldiers engaged in the construction of the nearby Roman road and watch towers of the Gask frontier. The former might seem rather more likely since the site does still combine three different gate types and although all of these are normal Roman designs, it is unusual to see them mixed on the same site. It may, thus, be that the site was used to train soldiers in the construction of a range of different types of defence, although at present this is speculation.
Further information from
David Woolliscroft, Director Roman Gask Project
Notes for editors
The Roman Gask Project is a long term programme to study the Roman Frontier works on and around the Gask Ridge in Perthshire, Scotland.
The Gask Ridge system is the earliest Roman land frontier in Britain, built in the 80’s AD, 40 years before Hadrian’s Wall and 60 years before the Antonine Wall. Since German archaeologists have now re-dated the start of their frontier (which was once thought also to belong to the 80’s) to the Trajanic period 15-20 years later, it now seems that the Gask system is the first Roman land frontier anywhere. As such, the Gask acquires a particular importance, because it is difficult to judge how Roman frontiers changed and developed over time unless one can study the prototype
The text of this release is also available athttp://www.alphagalileo.org