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Stracathro, Roman fort and camp

A Scheduled Monument in Brechin and Edzell, Angus

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.7806 / 56°46'50"N

Longitude: -2.6324 / 2°37'56"W

OS Eastings: 361453

OS Northings: 765628

OS Grid: NO614656

Mapcode National: GBR WX.VY36

Mapcode Global: WH8R2.JTPS

Entry Name: Stracathro, Roman fort and camp

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1969

Last Amended: 22 March 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2829

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: fort

Location: Stracathro

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Brechin and Edzell

Traditional County: Angus

Description

The monument comprises the remains of Stracathro Roman fort and camp, visible as cropmark images on oblique aerial photographs.

The monument was first scheduled in 1969. It is being rescheduled in order to clarify the extent of the protected area.

The monument lies about 800m E of Inchbare, on the S side of the West Water, at approximately 45m OD. It comprises a large Roman fort, which was originally one of a series of auxiliary forts screening the Agricolan legionary fortress at Inchtuthill. The fort is defended on the NW and SW sides by two ditches and, on the SE side, by three ditches. The steep river scarp above the bank of the West Water now cuts into the N angle of the fort.

The dimensions of the fort interior (ie. within the ditches) are estimated at c.183m NE-SW by 145m NW-SE, enclosing an area of some 2.6ha. An enclosure measuring c.90m NW-SE by c.60m SW-NE is attached to the southern half of the SW front of the fort, and would appear to be an annexe defended by a single broad ditch. Much of the annexe lies within the area of the temporary camp.

The temporary camp is situated to the SW of the fort and encloses an area of about 15.8ha. It comprises a rectangular parallelogram on plan, measuring c.425m NW-SE by 375m NE-SW (about 15.8ha). Its four clavicular gateways of the distinctive 'Stracathro' type, to which this monument has given its name, combined with its presumed relationship to the adjacent Flavian fort, suggest that it was constructed some time during the campaigns of Julius Agricola in AD 78-84.

In 1957, a section was excavated through the outer ditch on the SE side of the fort. This revealed a typical Roman ditch with a V-shaped profile, 4.27m wide and 2.13m deep. The excavator deduced that the gate on that side, which divides the length in a ratio of two to three, was the main entrance (the 'porta principalis dextra') and that the fort therefore faced NE. In 1969, however, another excavation (undertaken in advance of an extension to the burial ground which lies within the fort) discovered the remains of a possible barrack block, suggesting that the fort faced NW or SE. Finds from the excavations include Samian ware of Flavian date, and a coin of AD 86, of a type known as an 'As', which was in mint condition and identical to coins found at Inchtuthill.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to survive. It is sub-rectangular in plan, with maximum dimensions of c.490m NW-SE by 680m NE-SW, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The buildings of Smiddyhill, the school, the church and graveyard are excluded from the scheduling. The surfaces of the Smiddyhill access road and the trunk roads crossing the site are also excluded to a depth of 20cm, to allow for routine maintenance and re-surfacing.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an example of a Roman fort with associated annexe and temporary camp which has the potential greatly to enhance our understanding of the Roman military presence in Scotland, especially as it comprises different types of defensive structures (a fort, an annexe and a temporary camp). It is of particular interest as one of a group of forts believed to have been constructed during the short-lived occupation in the Flavian period under Agricola. The monument is also of national importance because of its potential to contribute to an understanding of the construction of Roman road networks.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NO 66 NW 13, NO 66 NW 18 and NO 66 NW 89.

Aerial photographs consulted:

1. CUCAP AGI 79 22/7/62 (RCAHMS ref AN/3730).

2. CUCAP K17S 195 (vertical).

References:

Breeze, D. J. (1980) 'Agricola the builder', Scot Archaeol Forum, 12, 1980,16-17.

Hanson, W. S. and Maxwell, G. S. (1983) Rome's north west frontier: The Antonine Wall, Edinburgh, 20, 41-3, 65.

Hartley, B. R. (1972) 'The Roman occupation of Scotland: the evidence of samian ware', Britannia, 3, 1972, 4.

Maxwell, G. S. (1980) 'Agricola's campaigns; the evidence of the temporary camps', Scot Archaeol Forum, 12, 1980, 31, 34-7, 41.

Pitts, L. F. and St Joseph, J. K. (1985) 'Inchtuthil: the Roman legionary fortress', Britannia Monograph Series No. 6, London, 227.

RCAHMS (1983) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Central Angus, Angus District, Tayside Region, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series No. 18, Edinburgh, 32, No. 254.

Robertson, A. S. (1976) 'Agricola's campaigns in Scotland, and their aftermath', Scot Archaeol Forum, 7, 1975, 4.

Roy, W. (1793) The military antiquities of the Romans in Britain, London.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1955) 'Air reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-55', J Roman Stud, 45, 1955, 87.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1955) 'Stracathro', Discovery Excav Scotland, 1955, 5.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1958) 'Air reconnaissance in Britain, 1955-7', J Roman Stud, 48, 1958,92.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1969) 'Air reconnaissance in Britain, 1965-68' J Roman Stud, 59, 1969, 113-14, 118.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1970) 'The camps at Ardoch, Stracathro and Ythan Wells: recent excavations', Britannia, 1, 1970, 163, 171-5.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1976) 'Air reconnaissance of Roman Scotland, 1939-75', Glasgow Archaeol J, 4, 1976, 7, 26.

St. Joseph, J. K. (1978) 'The camp at Durno, Aberdeenshire, and the site of Mons Graupius', Britannia, 9, 1978, 279.

Wilson, D. R. (1970) 'Roman Britain in 1969. I. Sites explored', Britannia, I, 1970, 273.

Wilson, D. R. (1976) 'Air-reconnaissance and Roman military antiquities in Britain', Scot Archaeol Forum, 7, 1975, 24.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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