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Kaims Castle Roman Fortlet

A Scheduled Monument in Strathallan, Perth and Kinross

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.2952 / 56°17'42"N

Longitude: -3.8422 / 3°50'31"W

OS Eastings: 286084

OS Northings: 712943

OS Grid: NN860129

Mapcode National: GBR 1H.76T0

Mapcode Global: WH4NG.Y1JB

Entry Name: Kaims Castle Roman Fortlet

Scheduled Date: 16 December 1936

Last Amended: 15 December 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1607

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: fortlet

Location: Ardoch

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathallan

Traditional County: Perthshire

Description

The monument comprises a Roman fortlet dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. It is visible as three concentric grass-covered banks and a ditch, lying on a pronounced knoll about 65m north-west of the A822 road. It stands at about 190m above sea level on an area of higher ground that forms the watershed between Strathallan and Strathearn and has a dramatic outlook north-east towards Strathmore. The monument was first scheduled in 1936, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

At the centre of the defences is a flat subrectangular area, measuring about 20m by 18m, enclosed by a low bank. The interior of the enclosure lies between 0.3m and 0.7m below the top of the bank, which is about 1.5m-2m high measuring from the external ground surface. A sub-circular outer rampart and ditch surround the inner bank and are best defined on the south and south-west. The ditch measures up to 1.5m deep to the south and south-west and about 0.3m deep elsewhere. To the outside of the ditch is a third bank, measuring between 0.3m and 0.6m in height and up to 2m wide. Overall, the fortlet measures about 60m by 60m. Excavations in 1900 showed that there is a single entrance on the south-east of the fortlet, approached from the nearby Roman road by a paved causeway. The line of the causeway is still visible close to the fortlet as a slight earthwork and area of metalling. The fortlet is part of a group of Roman military sites that may represent the earliest material evidence of a Roman frontier system anywhere in the Empire. Although researchers believe the system was first laid out in the later 1st century AD, the precise dating of individual elements remains subject to debate. Two well-preserved lengths of Roman road survive in close proximity to the fortlet, the first around 40m to the south and the second around 90m to the NNE.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. To allow for their maintenance, the scheduled area specifically excludes the above-ground elements of a flag pole sited within the fortlet and of a post-and-wire fence which bounds the main earthworks to the north-east and north-west.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a Roman fortlet that survives in good condition and has the potential to enhance our knowledge of the construction, use and abandonment of early Roman fortlets in Scotland. Excavations conducted in 1900 showed that the interior of the fort was paved with cobbles but revealed no structures or significant artefacts. However, researchers now suggest that the cobbled layer was a secondary feature that probably covered earlier remains and further excavation of the monument could investigate layers beneath the cobbles. In addition, the use of modern excavation techniques has the potential to produce more detailed information, improving understanding of Roman military engineering, the construction of defences and the use of fortlet interiors. The monument may seal features deriving from the earlier use of the landscape and underlying deposits may contain important paleoenvironmental evidence that can help us reconstruct the environment before the fortlet was built. Cut features associated with the fortlet may similarly provide information about the environment while it was in use. They also have the potential to provide information about earthfast structures that may have stood in the interior. At present we do not know the original date of construction, period of use and development sequence of the fortlet, but buried remains give the potential to address all these issues. Specifically, the monument may preserve material with the potential to inform the dating of the fortlet defences, and any internal structures, through scientific dating techniques.

Contextual characteristics

The monument forms part of the Gask system of fortifications, extending from the forts of Camelon near Falkirk to Bertha on the River Tay. More specifically, it was one of several watchtowers and fortlets associated with the section of road connecting the forts of Ardoch in Strathallan and Strageath in Strathearn. Researchers continue to debate the precise date and function of the Gask system. Many of the constituent sites were probably associated with Agricola's 1st-century AD invasion of N Scotland but another suggestion is that the fortlets such as Kaims were either re-used or built in the Antonine period during the mid-2nd century. It seems likely that both observation and signalling were important functions of the fortlets and watchtowers, necessary for preventing incursions and providing information to the garrisons of the larger forts. Moreover, it has been argued that the Gask system, although lacking a continuous barrier, embodied at an early date all the essential elements of a Roman limes system and was an important precursor of later Roman frontiers. The deposits preserved within this monument have the potential to contribute to the resolution of these issues because they may contain evidence for structural features and allow the application of scientific dating techniques. The context of the fortlet within the Gask system enhances its significance.

Associative characteristics

The monument is widely considered a product of the earliest documented military invasion of what is now Scotland and may be associated with a number of historical figures, including Julius Agricola, governor of Britain during the reigns of the Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian in the late 1st century. The Ordnance Survey first and second edition 1:2500 maps both show the fortlet.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the systems of fortifications used by the Roman Empire in its invasions and occupations of what is now Scotland in the 1st and 2nd century AD. This is among the best-preserved fortlets in Scotland. Its good state of preservation and proximity to well-preserved lengths of Roman road, forts at Ardoch and Strageath and intermediate fortlets and watchtowers enhance its importance. It holds the potential to contribute significantly to the question of when the Gask system was built, how it developed, and its function. The loss of this monument would significantly affect the completeness of the network of Roman military sites forming the Gask system and would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the earliest Roman incursions into what is now Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NN81SE 1. Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust Historic Environment Record records the site as MPK775.

References:

Breeze D J 1982, THE NORTHERN FRONTIERS OF ROMAN BRITAIN, London.

Breeze D J 2006, ROMAN SCOTLAND: FRONTIER COUNTRY, London.

Woolliscroft D J 1993, 'Signalling & the design of the Gask Ridge system', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 123, 291-314.

Woolliscroft D J 2002, 'The Roman Gask frontier: the current state of research'. In Woolliscroft D J ed. 2002, THE ROMAN FRONTIER ON THE GASK RIDGE, PERTH AND KINROSS: AN INTERIM REPORT ON THE ROMAN GASK PROJECT 1995-2000, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 335, Oxford, 1.

Wooliscroft D J and Hoffmann B 2006, THE FIRST FRONTIER: ROME IN THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND, Stroud.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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