Girvan Mains East Temporary Camp

Marching or Temporary Camps

Girvan Mains 1 – (East) was discovered from the air in 1976, this camp was investigated on the ground in advance of road construction in 1983. The south side lay close along the shore of the Girvan Water and sadly, the south-west corner-angle and part of the south side have been lost to erosion. This gives the camp an almost square outline with the north-south dimension being slightly the greater.

Given the location of this camp and Girvan Mains West Temporary Camp, on the north bank of the Water of Girvan near its mouth, it would appear that these camps were part of the military operation directed against the Novantae tribe of the Galloway peninsula by the energetic Roman governor Julius Agricola c. A.D. 81. If the intention had been to mount an offensive towards the north it would be more advantageous to have encamped to the south of the Girvan, in both scenarios the river being used as a defensive barrier. It is possible that camps did once exist to the south of the river-mouth with all evidence of their existence obliterated by the town of Girvan, but this is just speculation.

Either way, with no evidence of Roman roads anywhere in the local area, it is most likely that these large encampments were established and supplied by use of the British Fleet, the Classis Britannica, operating out of a base (or bases) situated somewhere along the Cumbrian coast of north-west England, perhaps Gabrosentum or Alauna Carvetiorum.

References for Girvan Mains Camps

  • Britannia xiii (1982) p.339;
  • Britannia xiv (1983) p.289;
  • Britannia xv (1984) p.276;
  • Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987) pp.34/5;
  • Britannia xxii (1991) p.230;
  • Britannia xxv (1994) p.257 & fig.7 p.259;
  • Britannia xxvii (1996) p.401.

Map References for Girvan Mains Camps

NGRef: NX1999 OSMap: LR76

OS National Grid Reference: NX192992
Dimensions: 1,300 x 1,230 ft (396 x 375 m)
Area: 36¾ acres (14.85 ha)

Roman Roads near Girvan Mains Camps

None identified