Dalginross Roman Forts

Flavian Auxiliary Fort (AD 69–96)

There are two overlapping  forts at Dalginross, one set entirely within the defences of the other, located on the south bank of the River Earn, immediately east of the point where it collects the Water of Ruchill and west of the River Lednock confluence. The site now lies beneath the modern village while two marching camps are situated in fields to the south (at NN7720). It is possible that a Roman military supply-road led from here eastwards along the valley of the Earn towards the Gask Ridge fort at Strageath. One of the forts was most-likely established by the governor Sallustius Lucullus sometime during 85AD, only to be demolished after a short period of occupation, perhaps the following campaign season. The site was one of a series of Roman military camps established at the same time and dubbed by modern archaeologists the Glen Forts.

At Dalginross the small fort is seen to be provided with two ditches, the large fort with one, and it is worth noting that although the ditch rounds the south angle of the large fort in a normal sweeping curve, at the east angle, on the other hand, while the mound is normal, the turn in the ditch is unusually sharp. Roads are visible leading through the south west and south-east gates of both camps; that through the south-east continues in the same line for 750 ft beyond the forts.” (St. Joseph, 1951)

Fragments of coarse and Samian pottery recovered from the site during the 1970’s seem to point to occupation during both the Flavian and Antonine periods.

The Smaller Fort

The smaller of the two has lost its N corner-angle to the eroding effects of the river but the entire SW side, 400 ft. long, and the SE side, 300 ft. long, are recorded, along with around 170 ft. of the NW side and about 140 ft. of the NE. All of the visible angles are well-rounded, the E angle is slightly obtuse, measuring around 91°, the S angle even more so at 96°, while the W angle is quite acute, around 83°. The missing N corner angle would have subtended a perfect right-angle. The original length of the NW side was around 350 ft., the NE side about 380 ft.; the smaller fort therefore covers an area just under 3 acres (c.1.2 ha).

The Larger Fort

The large fort has a single broad ditch 16 ft. wide by 4 ft. deep (c.4.9 x 1.2 m) and is missing its entire NW side including both N and W angles, also at least half of the NE side, all due to the eroding effects of the River Earn. Only the SE side of this fort is complete and measures about 460 ft. in length, about 530 ft. of the SW side and 300 ft. of the NE sides survive. This fort was, like the smaller one, irregular in outline, the surviving S and E angles both slightly obtuse at around 94° and 92° respectively. Although no trace of its NW side remains, it is very likely that the larger of the two forts at Dalginross enclosed an area of about 6 acres (c.2.4 ha). The turf rampart was found in the primary fill of the ditch, making it likely that the camp was deliberately dismantled prior to an ordered withdrawal. There are no internal features visible.

The Finds

The only finds consist of a gold coin of Vespasian (A.D.70-9), found before 1789, and a coin of Domitian (A.D.81-96) found within the area of the fort about 1905. A coin of Alexander Serverus (A.D.222-35) is said to have been picked up within or near the fort. The first two coins, together perhaps with the marching-camp, speak of occupation in the first century.” (Crawford, 1949)

The above passage is no longer absolutely correct as “a dolabra of standard type” was recovered from the site in 1999.

Classical references to Dalginross

It is a possible location of Ptolemy’s Banatia.

References for Dalginross

  • Topography of Roman Scotland North of the Antonine Wall by O.G.S. Crawford (Cambridge 1949) pp.41-3 & fig.10;
  • Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.64;
  • Roman Britain in 1961 in J.R.S. lii 1962 p.162; Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1961-64 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lv (1965) p.81;
  • Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1965-1968 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lix (1969) p.109;
  • Britannia xxxi (2000) p.381;
  • Britannia xxxiii (2002) p.285.

Map References for Dalginross

NGRef: NN7721 OSMap: LR51/52/57

Roman Roads near Dalginross

Possible Military Road: ESE (8) to Strageath

Sites near Dalginross Roman Forts