The Roman Gask Project has published its annual report on its work in Perthshire during 2002 and the excavation report of work at East Coldoch. Both reports are available at <http://www.morgue.demon.co.uk/Pages/Gask>.
The Roman Gask project has always emphasised the importance of understanding the native population as well as Roman activity. The East Coldoch excavation began in earnest in 2000 (after a test trench in 1996) and the third season – delayed by the Foot and Mouth epidemic – took place in August 2002. The site lies a few miles to the south-west of the Roman fort of Doune. East Coldoch has revealed multiple structural periods, suggesting a lengthy occupation. It had the added advantage of offering insights into long stretches of Iron Age history on a single site.
This year’s excavation found fragments of late first century Roman square bottles in association with the roundhouse, which provides dating evidence and an indication that the inhabitants had access to Roman trade goods. The primary roundhouse had burned down with unusual ferocity. The northern part of its 90mm thick clay floor had overlain a levelling layer of stone slabs, and the fire had been so intense that the scorching had penetrated to the stones themselves. This suggested that the house had burned down during a prolonged dry spell.
The Roman Gask project is contributing to a reassessment of early Roman occupation of what is now Scotland. The project was started in 1995 at the University of Manchester but moved to the university of Liverpool in 2002.
Notes for Editors
1. The Roman Gask
The Roman Gask system is a line of forts, watch towers and tiny Roman forts known as fortlets, strung out along the Roman road into northern Scotland. As currently known, it begins at Glenbank, just to the north of Dunblane and ends at Bertha, just upstream of Perth on the Tay, although it might eventually prove to extend further. For much of its length, it runs along the prominent Gask Ridge on the northern side of Strathearn in Perthshire, hence its name.
The line is a Roman frontier, a direct ancestor of Hadrian’s Wall, if without the running barrier, but it is some forty years older, dating to the 80’s AD as opposed to the 120’s. Indeed, as the Roman frontier in Germany, which was once thought to be slightly earlier, has recently been re-dated to the period 105-115 AD, it may well be Rome’s earliest fortified land frontier and the prototype for the vast chain of similar systems which was eventually to stretch much of the way around the Roman Empire.
The Roman Gask project is sponsored by the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust.
3. Contact information
Director, Dr David Woolliscroft
Deputy Director, Dr Birgitta Hoffmann
The Roman Gask Project
Department of Archaeology
School of Archaeology Classics and Oriental Studies
University of Liverpool
14 Abercromby Square
Liverpool, L69 3GS