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Roman watch tower 1280m ESE of Mayfield

A Scheduled Monument in Almond and Earn, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.3694 / 56°22'9"N

Longitude: -3.574 / 3°34'26"W

OS Eastings: 302872

OS Northings: 720783

OS Grid: NO028207

Mapcode National: GBR 1T.2M1M

Mapcode Global: WH5PC.25CJ

Entry Name: Roman watch tower 1280m ESE of Mayfield

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1969

Last Amended: 7 December 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2902

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: signal station

Location: Tibbermore

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Almond and Earn

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises a Roman watch tower visible as a cropmark on oblique aerial photographs. It appears as a circular feature with a break for an entrance on its south side.

The monument measures around 19m in diameter within a ditch measuring around 2.5m wide. There is an obvious gap in the south side of the enclosing ditch which represents the entrance which faced onto a Roman road. There is evidence for the road in the form of quarry pits which are visible also on oblique aerial photographs. A single aerial photographs shows four internal post-holes suggesting a wooden tower of 4m x 3m with its long axis facing the entrance.

The scheduled area is circular, measuring 40m in diameter. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a.  The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, as a Roman watch tower which forms part of the Gask Ridge system of Roman fortifications.

b.  The monument retains structural attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past, in particular, to Roman watch towers. The remains can tell us about the construction techniques used to build the watch tower, its use, abandonment and potential provide dating evidence.

c.  The monument is a rare example of a watch tower which formed part of the fortified strategic Roman road network north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus.

d.  The monument is a particularly good example of a Roman watch tower which forms part of a wider fortified strategic routeway and is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e.  The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past in particular, it holds the potential to enhance our understanding of the early Roman presence within Scotland, including the construction and use of Roman military architecture in the late 1st century AD, the social and economic conditions surrounding them, and their relationships over time, and there is high potential for archaeological evidence to survive in and around the monument.  

f.  The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by as a component of the Gask Ridge system of fortifications

g.  The monument has significant associations with Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britannia and military commander of multiple campaigns into Scotland during the late 70s and early 80s AD, culminating in his victory in the Battle of Mons Graupius around AD83.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

This monument has been recorded as cropmarks on aerial photographs and survives as buried deposits below the ploughsoil. The monument is a Roman watch tower, which forms part of the fortified road or frontier known as the Gask Ridge System. The monument is visible as a circular feature; an enclosing ditch with internal post fittings for a tower. There is a break in the ditch to the south and beyond this there are a series of quarry pits aligned east-west which represent the remains of a Roman road. Excavations of other watch towers, such as Parkneuk (scheduled monument SM2102) and Roundlaw (scheduled monument SM3532) on the Gask Ridge have shown that they were built during a single phase of activity and in use for a short time period, perhaps only a few years.

Archaeological monuments often contain features that are not visible in aerial photographs and can have well preserved stratified layers of archaeological deposits. There is therefore potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including use and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen within the watch tower and within the ditches. It has the potential to provide information about the function and date of the watch tower and its relationship to other Roman monuments along the Gask Ridge. Study of the monument's form and construction techniques compared with other watch towers would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and add to our understand of the Gask Ridge system as a whole.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

In the late 1st century AD, this monument formed part of a line of Roman watch towers positioned on either side of a strategic route from fort at Ardoch (scheduled monument SM1601) to Bertha on the Tay to the north of Perth (scheduled monument SM2403). This route is likely to have acted as a supply line to the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil (scheduled monument SM1606). The Gask Ridge system has been interpreted as the earliest frontier system in the Roman Empire (Woolliscroft and Hoffman 2006). However, this interpretation has been challenged (Dobat 2009; Hanson 2009) and an alternative theory that the Gask Ridge system is a fortified strategic route has been suggested (Dobat 2009). The watch towers along the Gask Ridge are located immediately to the north and south of a Roman Road, with views over Strathallan and Strathearn to the south and towards Glen Almond to the north.

Excavations on other watch towers along the Gask Ridge, such as Gask House (scheduled monument SM1604) and Westerton (scheduled monument SM2832) show that they are of a standard configuration and built as a single phase of activity. Although the exact date of their construction is uncertain, it has been suggested that they were built in the AD70s (Woolliscroft 2006). An alternative date that reflects the campaigns of Gnaeus Julius Agricola in the north of Scotland in the early AD80s has also been suggested (Dobat 2009). If the latter were the case the watch towers and forts along the Gask Ridge would form part of a wider chain of forts that may also have served to prevent hostile forces from moving down Strathmore by way of the interconnected glens that link Loch Lomond with the River Tay. Garrisoned by auxiliaries, these forts hinged on a legionary fortress at Inchtuthil intended to house Legio XX Valeria Victrix and it may have been intended as a springboard for further military action into the highlands. However, in the mid- to late 80s AD additional troops were transferred from the British province to support the Emperor Domitian's campaigns on the Danube frontier.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

This monument is one of a series of Roman watch towers, forts and fortlets connected with Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britannia from around AD78 to around AD85. His son in law Tacitus later wrote a history of Agricola from which we gain most of our knowledge of Agricola and his career. He undertook several military campaigns within Scotland, culminating in the Battle of Mons Graupius around AD83, and the presence of multiple watch towers from the Flavian period along the line of the Gask Ridge suggest Agricola had a long term intent to control or occupy the territory up to the edge of the Highland massif and required a secure supply route from the south to achieve this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 26954 (accessed on 03/08/2020).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MPK2258 (accessed on 03/08/2020).

Breeze, D J 2006. Roman Scotland, Frontier Country. Batsford, London.

Dobat, E, 2009. The Gask 'system' in Perthshire: the first artificial frontier line of the Roman Empire in Breeze D J, Thoms L M and Hall D W First Contact, Rome and Northern Britain pp.39-48. Perth.

Hanson W S 2009. The fort at Elginhaugh and its implications for Agricola's role in the conquest of Scotland in Breeze D J, Thoms L M and Hall D W First Contact, Rome and Northern Britain pp.49-58. Perth.

Robertson A S 1974. Roman Signal Stations on the Gask Ridge in Transactions of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science pp. 14-29. Accessed online (27/08/2020) at

Woolliscroft D. J. and Hoffman, B. 2006. Rome's First Frontier. The Flavian Occupation of Northern Scotland. Tempus Publishing, Stroud.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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