The fort at Elginhaugh was discovered during aerial survey of Dere Street in 1979, the fort being situated so as to protect the crossing of this major military highway over the river North Esk. Little is known about the fort itself, having been only briefly excavated in order to establish its Roman foundation, save that it covers an area of about 4¼ acres (c.1.7 ha). It was occupied only briefly during the Flavian period, probably being established during the campaigns of the imperial propraetor Agricola around AD 80. The fort was replaced during the Antonine period by the coastal site at Inveresk. The fort has annexes attached to its NW and SW sides, that on the latter containing an external, linear bath-house measuring approximately 70 by 25 feet (c.21.5 x 7.5 m).

The Agricolan foundation of the Elginhaugh encampment is borne out by the few finds recovered from limited excavation of the site. It is possible that this fort marked the eastern terminus of the Agricolan fortifications across the Forth-Clyde isthmus, with the fortlet at Mollins to the rear of the line of the Antonine Wall, also the fort at Barochan overlooking the Clyde estuary in the west, both being contemporary encampments.

The importance of the North Esk crossing to the Roman military is punctuated by the proliferation of temporary marching camps in the immediate area. There is one nearby at Lugton (NT3267) and another two at Eskbank (NT3266), and along the road to Newstead in the south-east there is one at Woodhead (NT3863), three at Pathhead (NT3963) and another one at Fala (NT4362), while along the road to the south west there are others at Glencorse Mains (NT2362) and Carlops (NT1757). In Addition, there are other marching camps near the Inveresk fort and settlement just to the north-east.

References for Elginhaugh

  • Britannia xvi (1985) p.265;
  • Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987) p.18.

Roman Roads near Elginhaugh

SW (10) to Carlops (Lothian) Dere Street: SE (13.5) to Channelkirk WNW (8) to Cramond (Edinburgh, Lothian) SW (35) to Crawford (Strathclyde) Probable Road: NE (3.5) to Inveresk (Lothian) SSE (27) to Newstead (Newstead, Borders) ESE (8) to Fala WSW (6) to Glencorse Mains Dere Street: SE (14) to Oxton (Borders) Dere Street: SE (20) to St Leonards SW (35) to Wandel Dere Street: ESE (5) to Woodhead

Sites near Elginhaugh Roman Fort