Press release: Pottery evidence forces a reassessment of the Roman occupation of Scotland

May 1999

The University of Manchester’s Roman Gask Project has re-assessed the pottery found during earlier excavations at Dalginross and now suggest that the fort was occupied during the Antonine occupation of Scotland in the mid-second century as well as or even instead of during the 80’s Ad as was previously thought. The results have important consequences for the history of the Roman occupation of central Scotland.

The pottery, mainly mortaria (food mixing bowls) and amphorae, contained shards of undoubted Antonine date plus other material that could only be dated as from between the Flavian period (80’s AD) and the mid-second century. The pottery was examined on behalf of the project by Dr A. Croom of Tyne and Wear Museums and came from a field walking program at the site in the 1970’s, by the Cumbernauld Historical Society. [Pottery report]

The new dating means that Dalginross might not form part of the group of forts known as ‘Glen Blockers’ that includes Fendoch, Bochastle and the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil and which are believed to date from the Flavian period. It also casts more certain doubts on the previously held view that during the Antonine advance into Scotland the only sites held north of the Antonine Wall were along the road north from Camelon to Bertha in Perthshire.

The Roman Gask Project is the first systematic attempt to learn more about a complex area of Roman Scotland that includes the oldest land frontier known in the Empire. Excavations by the Project of watch towers and other sites along the Gask Ridge have suggested that the earlier view of this frontier’s history is too simplistic and that the area was occupied by the Roman army for longer, and that its occupation was more complex, than has previously been thought.

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 pottery report is available here.

The Roman Gask project is sponsored by the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust

The text of this release is also available at

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