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Fendoch Roman fort and annexe, 370m SSE of Fendoch Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Strathearn, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.4343 / 56°26'3"N

Longitude: -3.7532 / 3°45'11"W

OS Eastings: 291986

OS Northings: 728278

OS Grid: NN919282

Mapcode National: GBR KC3Q.1H2

Mapcode Global: WH5NW.BJ0R

Entry Name: Fendoch Roman fort and annexe, 370m SSE of Fendoch Cottage

Scheduled Date: 13 October 1936

Last Amended: 2 December 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1603

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: fort

Location: Fowlis Wester

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathearn

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises the upstanding and buried remains of a Roman fort and annexe, dating to the 1st century AD. It has been recorded as a combination of slight upstanding earthworks and buried remains. The monument sits on the top and side of a glacial moraine, between around 190m and 210m above sea level. The fort lies near the confluence of the River Almond and the Fendoch Burn and overlooks both watercourses and the entrances to their respective valleys.

The fort is roughly rectangular in plan, aligned on a roughly northeast to southwest axis and occupying most of the top of the glacial moraine on which the site is located. It measures around 250m northeast to southwest by around 160m northwest to southeast. To the southeast of the fort, archaeological excavations in the 1930s and more recent geophysical survey revealed the presence of an annexe, extending down the slope of the moraine to the Fendoch Burn at its base. It measures around 160m northeast to southwest and stretches around 80m from the fort to the burn at its largest.

The scheduled area is irregular. 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of all fences and drystone walls within the scheduled area, to allow for their maintenance.

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 or appreciation of the past, or has the potential to do so, in particular our understanding of the earliest period of Roman occupation within Scotland, and the construction, use, dismantling and abandonment of Roman frontier military installations during this period.

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. Past archaeological excavations have revealed extensive archaeological remains, and there is potential for the preservation of further additional buried features and deposits, including structural remains and environmental or palaeobotanical remains.

c.   The monument is a rare example of a dismantled Flavian period Roman fort within Scotland, apparently unaltered since its dismantling and abandonment.

d.   The monument is a particularly good example of a Roman frontier fort of the late 1st century AD 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 today's landscape and our understanding of the historic landscape by its prominent and strategic location on the edge of the Highland massif.

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 83AD.

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)

The monument is a partially upstanding and well-preserved example of a Roman fort and annexe complex, dating to the Flavian period in the late 1st century AD. It survives as faintly visible bank and ditch earthworks and buried remains across the top and side of a glacial moraine. Although the earthworks have been eroded over time, and the site was partially excavated in the 1930s, it remains a prominent and visible feature in the landscape.

The excavations in the 1930s revealed a great deal of information about the site. Artefacts, including pottery and coinage, suggest a date of around 80-90AD, in line with the advances made by the Romans into Scotland under Agricola. The excavations found that the fort was constructed with a single substantial rampart and outer ditch enclosing the internal area. One gate was installed on each side of the fort to permit access to the interior. Internally, several buildings were identified, including the headquarters, the fort commanders house, a hospital, two granaries, two storage buildings and ten barracks, along with associated features such as ovens, roadways and water tanks. The layout and types of buildings are in keeping with other contemporary Roman forts and reflect a level of standardisation used on such sites.

The excavations and more recent geophysical survey of the site revealed the position and size of the annexe, and it is also surrounded by a single bank and ditch, of smaller scale than the main fort but still substantial. Although no internal structures have yet been identified within the annexe, the excavations did reveal some evidence of industrial use, in the form of evidence of burning and some lumps of iron.

In addition to the evidence of the fort's construction and use uncovered during the 1930s excavations, it was also discovered that the site had been purposefully dismantled rather than abandoned. Evidence for dismantling has also been found at other Flavian period forts in the area, and suggests a deliberate planned withdrawal from the area. The withdrawal has been linked with the transfer of some Roman forces from Britannia to the Danube frontier in the late 80s AD, with the reduced available force being insufficient to continue to attempt to assert control over the area claimed by Agricola. The dismantling also highlights the standardised and pre-planned nature of a site such as Fendoch, with the ability to reuse dismantled material to construct or repair buildings on other similar sites after its removal.

Given the good level of preservation of the monument and the results of the excavations in the 1930s, there is a very high potential for the survival of further artefactual, environmental or palaeobotanical remains on the site. Such archaeological deposits can help us to better understand the early Roman presence within Scotland, as well as trade and contacts, social and economic conditions and the climate and local vegetation at the time of construction. This site also offers good potential to inform our understanding of the relationship between the so-called 'glen-blocker' forts of the late 1st century AD and the putative frontier system established along the Gask Ridge.

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, Fendoch formed part of a chain of Roman forts positioned in the mouths of several glens along the edge of the highlands that were established with the intention of observing movement in and out of these natural communication routes. Additionally, this chain of forts 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. As part of a wider, province-wide rearrangement of forces, the Roman military staged a gradual withdrawal from Scotland, retreating to a line of forts across the Forth-Clyde line and then to a frontier along the Solway-Tyne line. Fendoch appears to have been dismantled and abandoned around AD 86 or 87.

Fendoch is one of over 250 known or possible Roman military forts and temporary camps within Scotland, and forms part of a network of similar sites established during the Flavian period along the edge of the Highland massif. The forts within the network were strategically positioned to control the routes through the glens used to move between the northwest of Scotland and the more lowland areas to the south and east. Fendoch is located on a glacial moraine at the confluence of the River Almond and the Fendoch Burn at the junction of three major routeways, a visibly strategic position. The Sma' Glen runs northwest from the fort, joining to several other valleys and providing access to the north and west. Southwest from the fort is a route towards modern day Crieff skirting the edge of the Highland massif and providing access to Strathearn and the lowlands to the south.  During the Flavian period this route also led to the Roman fort at Dalginross. East of Fendoch the route leads towards the Roman fort at Bertha (modern day Perth) and again provides access into the lowland regions, along with the strategically important Strathtay.

As noted above, Fendoch is part of a defensive line, known as the Gask Ridge, consisting of watchtowers, fortlets and forts running along the southern edge of the Highland Line. Fendoch lies roughly halfway between the fort at Dalginross (scheduled monument SM1612), around 16.5 km southwest and the fort at Bertha (scheduled monument SM2403), around 18km east, both of which are contemporary with Fendoch. The largest and most important element of the network was the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil (scheduled monument SM1606), located around 23km northeast of Fendoch. All of these sites occupy similarly strategic locations to Fendoch, with Bertha controlling a crossing point of the River Tay and Dalginross controlling the upper reaches of Strathearn, for example.

Dating evidence from the 1930s excavation showed only a single phase of occupation at Fendoch, in the Flavian period of the late 1st century AD. This matches with the dates of Dalginross, Bertha and Inchtuthil, along with other sites along the Gask Ridge system. However, at Dalginross there is also evidence of later phases of Roman occupation during subsequent incursions. The single phase of use evident at Fendoch makes it an important example of a Roman military site constructed, occupied, dismantled and abandoned within a very short and specifically identifiable timescale.

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

Fendoch is one of a series of Roman forts connected with Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britannia from around 78AD to around 85AD. 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 83AD, and the presence of multiple forts from the Flavian period such as Fendoch, coupled with the contemporary legionary fortress at Inchtuthil, suggest Agricola had a long term intent to control or occupy the territory up to the edge of the Highland massif.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 26132 (accessed on 07/08/2020).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MPK1479 (accessed on 07/08/2020).

Richmond and McIntyre, I A and J., 1936. 'The Roman fort at Fendoch in Glenalmond: a preliminary note', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 70, 1935-6, pp. 400-406.

Richmond, I A {et al}., 1939. 'The Agricolan fort at Fendoch', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 73, 1938-9, pp. 110-154.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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