Fendoch Roman Fort

Gask Ridge Signal Station

The Fendoch Roman Fort occupies a natural platform lying detached from the north-west slopes of the Hill of Stromness. The fort platform was viewed, but again, the weather was against us and the visit was cut short, there being no chance to take any digital photographs for fear of ruining the cameras.

The Roman fort at Fendoch is situated at the head of Glen Almond opposite the mouth of the Sma’ Glen in Tayside and occupies the summit of a small hillock overlooking from the north-west the Fendoch Burn, about ¾ mile west of its confluence with the River Almond. It measures 613 feet (c.187m) east to west by 357 feet (c.109m) north-south over the inner ditch, enclosing an area of just over 5 acres (c.2.03ha). There appears to be an annexe attached to the western end of the fort, measuring 300 by 260 feet (91 x 79 m) and covering an area of about 1¾ acres (c.0.7 ha). The site has been associated with the initial dispositions of governor Sallustius Lucullus during the summer of 85AD as part of a strategic offensive along the glens into the Caledonian Highlands, a frontier system known by modern archaeologists as the Glen Blocking Forts.

Excavations conducted at Fendoch during the late-1930’s proved that this camp was deliberately dismantled and its timbers burnt very soon after construction had been completed. It would appear that Fendoch, together with the other Glen Forts, were abandoned after a very short period of occupation and the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil abandoned uncompleted, perhaps as early as the following summer, cetainly by 90AD when all encampments north of the Forth-Clyde were decommissioned.

The turf rampart was 20 ft. (6 m) wide. All of the interior buildings were constructed of wood. There were two long store-houses and four L-shaped centuria in the praetentura, another six barrack-blocks in the retentura and the buildings of the latera praetorii included the principia or Regimental H.Q. fronting onto the geometrical centre of the fort, a praetorium or Commandant’s House, two granaries and a valitudinarium or Field Hospital.

The Roman Signal-Station

The fort lies about ½ mile east of the modern road juction of the B8063 with the A822, while a Roman signal-station is located (NN9028) on an eastward-jutting spur of the Gualani na Faing overlooking the road junction from the north-west with a clear view up the Sma’ Glen northwards to the old fortress at Dun Mor. The military road of General Wade runs along the Sma’ Glen and passes a few hundred yards to the west of the station. This general is notorious among archaeologists as the man who levelled the first twenty-odd miles of Hadrian’s Wall and used its rubble as hardcore for another military road from Newcastle to Carlisle.

The Dateable Pottery Evidence

Amongst the dateable pottery were several fragments of decorated ware dated to the Flavian period, a fine piece of a Dragendorff 27 vessel dated to the 1st century, a single sherd of Vespasianic Samian ware from the potteries at La Graufesenque.

In addition to the pottery finds an iron sword with a bronze hand-guard of a type carried by auxiliary soldiers was discovered during excavations in 1938.

References for Fendoch

  • Roman Britain in 1935 in JRS xxvi (1936) p.237; Roman Britain in 1937 in JRS xxviii (1938) p.170;
  • Roman Britain in 1938 in JRS xxix (1939) p.200;
  • Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.64;
  • The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55.

Map References for Fendoch

NGRef: NN9128 OSMap: LR52/58

Roman Roads near Fendoch

Possible Military Road: E (10) to Bertha

Sites near Fendoch Roman Fort