Inveresk Fort

Fort and Minor Settlement

Inveresk Roman Fort is an archaeological site within the grounds of St Michael’s Church, Inveresk, a village in East Lothian, Scotland.

The fort covered an area of 6.6 acres (2.7 ha), placing it at the larger end of the spectrum of fort sizes.[3] For this reason, the original excavator, Ian Richmond, believed that a cavalry regiment had been stationed here. Little is known of the interior buildings, so this hypothesis cannot yet be tested. In 2007 a Roman tombstone was found at nearby Carberry depicting a Roman Governor’s guard cavalry trooper named “Crescens” who was perhaps residing at the fort when he died.

All of the datable artefacts point to Antonine occupation. Consequently, the fort is thought to have been established in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Scotland launched by the emperor Antoninus Pius in AD 139/140. Two clear phases of occupation were identified archaeologically, perhaps occasioned by a change of garrison during the Antonine period. The fort will have been abandoned, along with the other Scottish sites, around AD 160, when Hadrian’s Wall was recommissioned.

A substantial civil settlement (vicus) lay outside the east rampart of the fort, and included a curving structure thought to be an amphitheatre.

At (Midlothian), traces of ancient fields have been recorded ½-mile south-east of the fort. They consist of small, rectangular enclosures, resembling iron-age fields, and are grouped around lanes or drove-roads. As now visible, the enclosures extend over 1,200 to 1,500 ft., and it may be supposed that they were part of a field-system contemporary with the Roman fort.” (St. Joseph, 1951)

Inveresk Epigraphy

Three Latin inscriptions on stone have been recovered from the environs of Inveresk, two are recorded in the R.I.B. and another was reported in the Britannia journal. There are two altarstones or religious inscriptions dedicated by the same government official (vide infra), and a building-stone which reads simply CH VIIII “The Ninth Cohort” (RIB 2133).

Altarstones Dedicated by Quintus Lusius Sabinianus

APOLLINI GRANNO Q LVSIVS SABINIANVS PROC AVG V S L V M

“For Apollo Grannus, Quintus Lusius Sabinianus, overseer of the emperor, fulfils his vow freely, gladly and deservedly.”

(RIB 2132; altarstone)

…Q LVSIVS SABINIANVS PROC AVG

“[…] Quintus Lusius Sabinianus, the imperial procurator.”

(Britannia 1977.30)

The Dateable Pottery Evidence

The stamps of six Antonine potters have been found on pottery recovered from Inveresk; there are two of Chresimus Form 18, and single examples of Avitus Form 18/31 or 31, Cracuna Form 33, Criciro Form 37, Geminus Form 33 and Quintilianus Form 31. The pottery record indicates that there was no Flavian-Trajanic occupation at Inveresk.

Other Roman Sites in the Area

There are three temporary marching camps in the area, two just south of the fort at Inveresk (NT3471) and another one further south at Dalkeith (NT3469).

References for Inveresk

  • Britannia viii (1977), p.433, no.30;
  • The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain – I Inscriptions on Stone by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
  • Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.61.

Roman Roads near Inveresk

Possible Road: W (10) to Cramond (Edinburgh, Lothian) Probable Road: SW (3.5) to Elginhavgh (Lothian) Possible Road: ENE (16) to Traprain Law