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Archaeologists uncover secrets of the world's most northerly Roman fort

The Roman Gask Project

The Roman Gask Project will be spending time in Angus to undertake an extensive survey of the world’s most northerly known Roman fort, situated at Stracathro, near Brechin in Angus. Along with the fort, the team will also survey a Roman camp, and the site of an early medieval church which played a pivotal role in Scottish history.

The site forms part of the Gask frontier, a line of forts and watchtowers which stretch from Doune near Stirling to Stracathro, and is believed to be the oldest Roman frontier in the world, even predating Hadrian’s Wall.

Discovered from the air, almost 50 years ago, little is known about the site at Stracathro, so the volunteers will use a mixture of non-invasive survey techniques, (including magnetometry and geophysics), to see what's under the ground, without causing damage.

As well as examining the fort, the Project will also survey the adjacent Roman marching camp. These are believed to have been constructed as part of the military campaigns of the invading Romans. Incidentally, the Stracathro camp is famed in the archaeological world for giving its name to the camps unusual gate structure, examples of which are only found in Scotland.

In addition to surveying the Roman occupation of the site, the Project will also be looking for evidence of an early Christian church which was constructed after the Roman period, but subsequently replaced by an 18th century structure. The original church site played a crucial role in Scottish history, being the place where John Balliol, who later became notorious as the puppet king of Edward I of England, surrendered the Scottish crown in 1296. 

Dr Birgitta, Co-Director of The Roman Gask Project said, "We’re really pleased to be working in Angus this year, and we’re looking forward to uncovering more of the story of the Gask frontier. So many people just aren’t aware that the world’s oldest Roman frontier passes through the area, and the role it played in Scotland’s early history.

This year we’ve opted to undertake a series of archaeological surveys rather than doing an excavation, primarily because modern survey equipment can give us a fairly detailed idea of what’s actually under the ground without the need to dig into the ground and potentially damage the evidence.

We know very little about Roman Stracathro, but by using different survey techniques, and good old fashioned research, we’ll get a better idea of what life in Roman Angus was like.

Hopefully, the gods will be on our side, and Stracathro will give up some of its secrets.”

Site visits and interviews with the Directors can be arranged for journalists by contacting Andrew Tibbs on 07968 940450 or andrew@andrewtibbs.com

For more information visit The Roman Gask Project website or see the book Rome’s First Frontier: The Flavian Occupation of Northern Scotland (2006) by D.J.Woolliscroft and B.Hoffmann.

 

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