The Bochastle Roman Fort was one of the so called “Glen Blocker Forts” built circa 85. They were used only briefly before being abandoned and were located so as to control the exits from the Glens which were defiles or valleys leading out of the highlands. These forts are now considered to be a part of the Gask Ridge system of border control and they include Drumquhassle, Malling, Bochastle, Dalginross, Fendoch, Inchtuthil, and Inverquharity.
This medium-sized Roman fort covering 4¾ acres (1.9 ha) lay at the eastern end of the Pass of Leny close beside the south bank of the Garbh Uisge just west of the point where it collects the Eas Gobhain which flows out of Loch Venachar in the south-west; thus the fort is surrounded on three sides by water, being assailable only from the west along Strath Gartney, the route from Strathyre in the north-east being protected by the steep defile of the Falls of Leny.
The fort was built during the governorship of Sallustius Lucullus during the summer of 85AD, but was perhaps abandoned after only a single winter, certainly by 90, when all encampments north of the Forth-Clyde were given-up. The camp had formed part of a briely-held line known as the Glen Forts, which were presumably, to act as a launch-pad into the Scottish Highlands along the line of the Glens.
Possible Watch-Tower or Signal Station
It is quite possible that a Roman signal station was positioned somewhere on Bochastle Hill to the west of the fort in order to warn the parent garrison of any attack along either of the Glens to the north or the west. The promontory fort at Dunmore (NN6007) may have served in this capacity, but its view along the Pass of Leny to the north is limited.
At Bochastle, 1¼ miles west of Callander, Perthshire (27/6107), a fort hitherto unknown, was identified and trenched on ground sloping to the River Leny, which had denuded by flood part of the north side; part apparently of the south side had also been obliterated by the Caledonian Railway embankment. The east side was intact and the dimensions seemed to be c. 450′ by 460′ over the ramparts, giving an area of 4.2 acres internally, but the west side has not yet been trenched. The rampart was of turf, 23′ wide, with a mixed earth and rubble core, 8′ to 10′ thick. An embanked road, 12′ wide, curving in from the south to an eastern entrance may cover an earlier rampart. Two constructional periods were clear to the excavators and some first century Samian ware occurred in the flooded area.” (JRS, 1949)
The Dateable Pottery Evidence
The only noteable pottery recovered from within the confines of the fort are decorated wares of Form 37 and Form 67, dated to the Domitianic period.
References for Bochastle
- Roman Britain in 1948 in J.R.S. xxxix (1949) p.97;
- Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.64;
- Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1965-1968 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lix (1969) p.109;
- The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55.
Map References for Bochastle
NGRef: NN6107 OSMap: LR57
Roman Roads near Bochastle