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Dalginross,Roman fort, annexe, camp & stone circle 200m south of Penfillan

A Scheduled Monument in Strathearn, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.3639 / 56°21'50"N

Longitude: -3.9863 / 3°59'10"W

OS Eastings: 277390

OS Northings: 720840

OS Grid: NN773208

Mapcode National: GBR 19.34F7

Mapcode Global: WH4N0.Q9ZN

Entry Name: Dalginross,Roman fort, annexe, camp & stone circle 200m S of Penfillan

Scheduled Date: 11 October 1960

Last Amended: 31 March 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1612

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone setting; Roman: camp

Location: Comrie

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathearn

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises the buried remains of a complex of Roman military remains, appearing as a series of cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. These remains extend across the arable fields immediately to the south-west of Dalginross and to the east of the Water of Ruchill. The monument was originally scheduled in 1960 and rescheduled in 1998; this rescheduling updates the present scheduling based on new information from recent excavations.

The cropmarks visible on aerial photographs of the site represent negative or buried archaeological features that retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil resulting in the variant growth of the crops above. These reveal three sides of a square fort defined by a rampart and ditch and bounded by a larger rectangular ditched enclosure comprising a single rampart and ditch. Immediately to the south of the fort lies a large, near complete rectangular Roman temporary camp containing cropmarks of numerous pits scattered across its interior. Close to the southern boundary of the scheduled area are the remains of a prehistoric stone circle made up of three monoliths known locally as the Roman Stones.

No trace of the W side of the fort survives, these remains having been eroded away in the past by the nearby Water of Ruchill, which has probably changed course several times since the 2nd century AD. However, based on the cropmarks of the surviving remains the fort likely enclosed an area of around 1.2 ha and measured about 135m by 130m. From the aerial photographs, several clusters of post-holes inside the fort reveal the position of timber-framed buildings and part of the fort's internal street layout is visible. The larger enclosure around the fort probably represents an annexe or possibly the remains of an earlier Roman fort or camp and has an area of around 2.4 ha. The dating of the fort and the large enclosure is yet to be clearly established. However, mid- to late 1st century AD coins have been recovered from in the vicinity of the fort and Roman pottery of 2nd century AD has also been found in fields around the fort. Dalginross may therefore have been first established (and abandoned) in the late 1st century AD and re-established in the mid-2nd century AD as part of the Roman reoccupation of Scotland.

The large camp to the south measures approximately 290m by 310m transversely, creating an internal area of around 9.5ha. Rows of pit-like features within the camp probably represent buried remains of latrine pits, rubbish pits and bread ovens. The three visible gates, on the northern, western and southern sides, all have 'Stracathro-type' defences where the gateway is protected by two sections of ditch and bank, one curving and one extending straight outwards to cover the entrance. Stracathro-type gates are named after the Roman temporary camp at Stracathro where they were first recognised and are also known as clavicula entrances.

A group of three prehistoric standing stones lie close to the B827 road, approximately 135m WNW of Tullichettle Lodge, although this may not be their original location. The largest of the group, a substantial block known as the Roman Stone, leans heavily to the east but has a vertical height of around 1.9m. Close by is a smaller block of stone, approximately 0.5m thick by 1.3m long and 0.85m wide. To the east is an earthfast stone adorned with at least 22 plain cupmarks (carved circular depressions) of varying sizes.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, 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 attached map. The above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, boundary walls and fences, electricity poles and the upper 0.5m of all road surfaces are specifically excluded from the scheduling to allow for their maintenance.

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 well-preserved complex of Roman military remains, probably composed of at least two periods of occupation, and an earlier stone setting of the later prehistoric period.

Although no visible traces of the fort survive today, the cropmarks appearing on recent aerial photography, the results of past excavation and a series of antiquarian accounts of Dalginross all strongly indicate the fort retains excellent archaeological potential. In the 1960s Ordnance Survey investigators reported faint traces of the ramparts and roads entering and exiting the fort. In the late 18th century General William Roy depicted substantial earthworks in his 'Roman Military Antiquities of North Britain'. These accounts suggest that remains of these are very likely to survive below ground as archaeological deposits, and a trial excavation within the outer enclosure or annexe in 1961 found the ditch to be well preserved, filled with what appeared to be remains of the rampart. Although no excavations are recorded within the interior of the fort, cropmarks of several buildings and part of the street layout indicate the survival of occupation evidence.

The large, near-complete camp at Dalginross is of particular importance as its gates are protected by distinctive outworks known as Stracathro gates. Unique to Scotland, Stracathro gates date to the late 1st century AD and may represent the movement of a particular unit. Alternatively they may be the work of a group of officers commanding several units who held a particular preference for this type of defence. Excavation evidence suggests the camp may not simply be an overnight halt for an army or battle group on the march but may have been occupied for an extended period, or the site was later reused. In 1990, a trial excavation on the E gate revealed the ditch had been backfilled with rampart material and then recut.

Recent excavations within the interiors of Roman temporary camps demonstrate the degree to which occupation evidence can survive. The regular arrangement of pit-like features within the large temporary camp at Dalginross suggests the survival of rubbish pits or bread ovens. Occupation evidence could confirm whether there was any relationship between the camps and the forts and reveal valuable information about the soldiers who built and used them. As a whole, the complex of Roman monuments offers excellent potential to reveal valuable information about Roman temporary camps, the Roman army and their campaigns in central and northern Scotland in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. This complex of sites 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.

The stone setting is a significant survival within an arable landscape as monuments of this type often seem to have been cleared in antiquity to facilitate cultivation, and they were apparently left in situ during the Roman occupation. The stone setting may be associated with buried deposits that could tell us more about its purpose and function, the community who built and used it and supply dateable evidence to help us understand when it was in use.

Contextual characteristics

In the late 1st century AD, Dalginross 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 and 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. Dalginross may have been abandoned around AD 86 or 87. Finds from the area of the fort suggest there is good potential for Dalginross having been reoccupied during the mid-2nd century AD as part of a chain of forts extending north from the Antonine Wall to the River Tay. In 2007, pottery found at Dalginross during fieldwalking was reassessed and classified as a type produced in the 2nd century AD.

The camp at Dalginross belongs to a group of 225 known sites found across Scotland with a further 44 possible examples also identified. Roman temporary camps are found in south, central and NE Scotland, reflecting areas of Roman military operation. No Roman temporary camps are known in NW Scotland as the Romans likely considered the terrain to have been unsuitable for successful campaigning. The majority of temporary camps now survive as cropmarks, although camps situated in marginal landscapes can retain earthworks. In 1990, archaeologists excavating the E gate of the large camp at Dalginross found a short section of bank preserved beneath a collapsed drystone dyke, preserved because of not being exposed to intensive cultivation. Temporary camps are found throughout the S of Scotland and extend up the E coast to the Moray Firth. The known camps are located in a variety of contexts, including a number that are associated with adjacent forts. Based on size and form, it is possible to group some camps together and analysis of such groups often reveals potential routes for an advancing army, with those of similar form and size often being approximately a day's march apart (Roman soldiers being expected to cover around 24-6 km per day). Roman temporary camps were relatively safe defended enclosures where marching troops would camp overnight while on specific campaigns or while engaged on the construction of forts and other structures. While on campaign, troops often erected the camps upon arrival, and partially dismantled them the following morning. Some camps appear to have been semi-permanent, used by successive units of troops moving through the area used them.

Cup-and-ring rock-art is usually dated to the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods and it appears on boulders, standing stones and rock outcrops, as well as in other contexts, sometimes where it has been been reused . Broadly analogous rock art can be found in north-western Brittany and Ireland as well as in other parts of Britain although its meaning and purpose are still unknown. Theories to explain their meaning includes metal prospecting and smelting, religious activities and mapping of local communities, significant places and important routes as well as astronomy.

Associative characteristics

As with many of the Roman forts established in Strathearn in the 1st century AD, Dalginross is associated with Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Governor of Britain in the 80s AD. Much of what we know about Agricola's campaigns comes from a biography written by his son-in-law, the Roman historian Tacitus.

Dalginross is traditionally associated with the famous Ninth Legion (Legio IX Hispana), being the scene of a night attack by a Caledonian force shortly before the decisive Battle of Mons Graupius. Tacitus paints the battle as a desperate struggle for the Romans, with Caledonian forces breaking into the fort itself and almost overrunning the legionaries. Agricola, however, arrives at a crucial moment with a second Roman force, inspiring the Ninth Legion to rally and the battle concludes with the Caledonian attackers routed, caught between two Roman forces.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular Roman forts, their annexes and camps, our understanding of their dating, construction and internal organisation, distribution and relationship with other Roman monuments and with the landscape surrounding them. Spatial analysis between the Dalginross complex and other contemporary monuments may reveal valuable information on the distribution of Roman forts, camps and related remains within the landscape. Surviving as a clearly defined series of cropmarks, there is excellent potential for the preservation of important buried remains, in particular dateable organic remains and artefactual evidence relating to the construction, occupation and subsequent abandonment of the complex. The loss of the monument would impede our understanding of the placing of such monuments within the landscape, their position in the network of Roman remains in Scotland and the nature, purpose and methodology employed in their construction and use.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The RCAHMS record the site as NN72SE 1, 2 and 5


Dalland M 2006, 'Plot 6, Campfield Dalginross, Comrie, Perth and Kinross, archaeological evaluation', Discovery Excav Scot, 7, 131.

Hanson, W S and Maxwell G S 1983, Rome's North West Frontier: The Antonine Wall, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, 43.

Jones M J 1975, Roman Fort-Defences to AD 117, with special reference to Britain, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 21: Oxford, 147.

Jones, R H 2009, 'Troop movements in Scotland: the evidence from marching camps', in Morillo, Hanel and Martin (eds), Limes XX. Proceedings of the XXth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies. September 2006, Madrid, 870-1, 874.

Lewis, J 2008, 'Dalginross, Comrie, Perth and Kinross (Comrie parish), watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot, new ser 9, 141.

Robertson, A S, 1961, 'Dalginross, Comrie', Discovery Excav Scot, 40-1.

Robertson, A S 1976, 'Agricola's campaigns in Scotland, and their aftermath', Scot Archaeol Forum, 7, 2, 10.

Rogers, I M 1993, 'Dalginross and Dun: excavations at two Roman camps', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 123, 277-86, 289-90.

Tacitus, Agricola, ed and trans H Mattingly and S A Handford, The Agricola and The Germania, London, 1970.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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