There are two adjacent forts here. The north fort is Antonine period. The south fort is is one of the Gask Ridge Forts established between 70 and 80 in the campaigns in Scotland, although the exact dating is uncertain. The forts ran along the line of this ridge, but extended well south of it as well, and contemporary historians describe the line as the first comprehensive Roman border fortification system.
The recognized line begins in the south at Camelon, Doune, followed by Glenbank (fortlet), Ardoch, Kaims Castle (fortlet), Strageath, Bertha, Cargill (fort and fortlet), Inchtuthil (Legionary fortress), Cardean,, and Stracathro on the north. The “Glen Blocker” forts are now included as a part of this overall line, as are the series of watch or signal towers that run along the ridge. Some of these forts are classified as both Gask Ridge and Glen Blocker.
Although these works were abandoned by C. 90, many of them show to have been rebuilt at later times, this one being one of them. There is still a great deal to be discovered about them.
RIB2210 - Building inscription of the Twentieth Legion
XX V V F
The South (Flavian?) Fort (NS 862810)
The Roman site at Camelon lies just under a mile (1.5km) north of the Antonine Wall. The first fort to be built here was established during the campaigns of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola in Scotland sometime between 80AD to 83. Excavated in 1900, also between 1975 and 1979, several worn bronze asses Vespasian dated 71AD prove occupation during the Flavian period, while others bronzes of Domitian dated to 86AD and found and in mint condition prove that the fort was garrisoned during this year or shortly afterwards. A native homestead and other buildings lying just outside the defences of the fort were abandoned when the Romans moved into the area, but the site appears to have been reoccupied as soon as the Roman army withdrew c.90AD. This fort measured ? ft (? m) and covered an area of about 6 acres (2.4 ha).
The North (Antonine?) Fort (NS 863807)
The Camelon site was reoccupied c.139AD, when the Antonine Wall was built a little to the south. The outer? fort ditch was sectioned in 1974 and found to be 16 ft. wide and almost 6 ft. deep (4.9 x 1.8 m). There is an annexe attached to the north rampart which was found to contain iron-smelting furnaces and smithing-hearths. It measures 570 ft. (174 m) east-west. The annexe east rampart was sectioned in 1974 and found to be 20 ft. (6.1 m) wide.
The Dateable Pottery Evidence
There are many potters stamps recovered from the Camelon fort which have contemporaries in the Pompeii hoard c.75-90AD; there are four of Logirnus, three of Frontinus and Sabinus, two each of Calvus, Cosius Rufinus and Secundus, and single examples of Bassus, Firmo, Firmus, Galbinus, Iucundus, Macer, Montanus, Patricius, Peregrinus, Primus, Rufinus, Verecundus, S. Verius and Vitalis.
A number of examples of decorated ware have been found, including twenty-three of Form 29, twenty-nine of Form 37 and a single sherd of Form 30; ‘mostly pompeian’ (i.e. c.75-90AD).
Antonine occupation is attested by at least 57 Antonine potters stamps.
The Numismatic Evidence
There have been 143 coins recovered from the Camelon environs over the years. These range from a Republican denarius (pre-27 BC ) to a nummus of Licinius I ( AD 313). They include 35 Vespasianic coins, 24 Trajanic, 23 Domitianic, 17 Hadrianic, 16 of Antoninus Pius, 4 denarii of Mark Antony, 3 coins of Titus, 3 of Nerva, 2 of Augustus, single issues of Nero, Marcus Aurelius, Caracalla and Maximian, and another 9 unclassified.
Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood
In addition to the forts and associated annexe(s), there are a number of marching camps at Camelon (NS8580), others nearby at Lochlands (NS8581) and another camp a little way to the north-west at Dunipace (NS8482). There is a Romano-British temple at Arthur’s O’on (NS8782), about 2 miles to the north. There is a confirmed Roman road leading north towards the military complex at Alauna Veniconum (Ardoch Tayside) and another road leading south to the Antonine fortlet at Watling Lodge on the Antonine Wall.
References for Camelon
- Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.62;
- The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
- Britannia iv (1973) p.273; Britannia v (1974) pp.404/5; Britannia vi (1975) p.226;
- Britannia vii (1976) p.300; Britannia viii (1977) p.363; Britannia ix (1978) p.411;
- Britannia x (1979) p.275; Britannia xiii (1982) p.337; Britannia xxx (1999) p.328;
- A Survey of the Coin Finds from the Antonine Wall by Richard Abdy in Britannia xxxiii (2002) pp.189-217;