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Battledykes, Roman camp

A Scheduled Monument in Kirriemuir and Dean, Angus

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Latitude: 56.6881 / 56°41'17"N

Longitude: -2.8846 / 2°53'4"W

OS Eastings: 345909

OS Northings: 755502

OS Grid: NO459555

Mapcode National: GBR VM.1RY7

Mapcode Global: WH7QD.N5K4

Entry Name: Battledykes, Roman camp

Scheduled Date: 17 June 1963

Last Amended: 13 February 2014

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2308

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: souterrain, earth-house; Roman: camp

Location: Oathlaw

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Kirriemuir and Dean

Traditional County: Angus


The monument comprises the remains of a large Roman camp, possibly dating to the Severan campaign of AD 208-211, together with an enclosed prehistoric settlement and a souterrain which lie within the camp, and a ring-ditch (probably the remains of a prehistoric house) which lies immediately NW of the camp. These latter features are probably of Iron Age date (sometime between 500 BC and AD 500). The archaeological remains survive as buried features and deposits, represented by cropmarks visible on aerial photographs.

The Roman camp is regular in form, measuring around 885m from ENE to WSW by 600m transversely, and encloses an area of at least 51ha (126 acres). The cropmarks identify all four sides of the rectangular camp, with two of the original six tituli (external protection for the gateway) visible as cropmarks: one at the centre of the E side, and another at the western end of the N side of the camp. A third titulus, at the eastern end of the N side of the camp, is still upstanding as an earthwork: it is visible as an earthen bank about 30m long by 1.3m high, with a ditch on the N side about 0.3m deep. When the camp was planned by Roy in 1755, five entrances were visible, four of them protected by tituli. The camp is located just to the N of Lemno Burn on relatively level terrain, although there is a gradual rise to the NW, at about 70 to 80m above sea level; most of the fields which it occupies are currently in cultivation.

A prehistoric enclosed settlement and a souterrain lie within the camp. The enclosed settlement is roughly oval in shape and measures approximately 50m N-S by 40m E-W, within a ditch, 4m wide. The enclosure contains several features, apparently within a circular palisade. The ring-ditch located just outside the camp to the NW has an internal diameter of 14m. The monument was first scheduled in 1997, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present amendment rectifies this.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, hedges, drystane dykes and telegraph poles. The scheduled area also excludes the top 300mm of road surfaces and drains to allow for their upkeep and maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular, of the construction, organisation, use and role of Roman temporary camps, and the relationship between the Romans and the native inhabitants. Its importance is enhanced because one of the camp's tituli survives as an upstanding earthwork, which is very rare. There is good potential for the presence of important buried remains in the fills of the defensive ditches defining the perimeter of the camp, including datable organic remains and artefactual evidence relating to the occupation of the camp. Within the camp, there is high potential for the survival of occupation evidence in the form of rubbish pits, latrine pits, bread ovens and other features: such remains can add to our understanding of the lives of Roman soldiers while in the field. Organic evidence from the ditch fills could provide information about land-use and the environment at the time of the camp's construction. Spatial analysis of the network of camps and Roman roads may inform our understanding of Roman military strategy and possibly offer insights into the impact of Roman occupation on the local Iron Age landscape. The loss of the monument would diminish our understanding of the construction and use of temporary camps by the Roman army, our knowledge of Roman period military structure, economy and social practice, and our understanding of the relationship between the Romans and the native inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The RCAHMS record the monument as NO45NE 1 Battledykes Roman temporary camp.


Crawford, O G S 1949, Topography of Roman Scotland north of the Antonine Wall, Cambridge.

Jones, R H 2011, Roman Camps in Scotland, Edinburgh.

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

St Joseph, J K 1969, 'Air reconnaissance in Britain, 1965-68', J Roman Stud, vol. 59.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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