Old Kilpatric Roman Fort

Antonine Wall Fort

The Antonine fort at Old Kilpatric measures 442 ft. from north to south by 408 ft. east-west (c.135 x 124 m) within the ramparts, giving an occupation area of just under 4¼ acres (c.1.7 ha). The western and eastern gateways are placed centrally in their sides, but the gates in the north and south sides are displaced noticeably to the west. The fort is protected by three ditches, including the ditch of the rampart wall to the west, by two ditches on the south towards the banks of the Clyde, while the eastern and northern sides were each protected by four ditches. It appears very likely that the fort here was constructed before the rampart wall.

A bath-house and annexe was discovered outside the south defences of the fort in 1790 during cutting of the Forth-Clyde canal, and the fort itself was excavated in 1923/4. It has ramparts of turf, laid in the same manner as the Antonine Wall itself. Like the fort at Bar Hill the encampment here is separated from the rampart wall and was an earlier construction.

It is possible that the Roman military presence at Old Kilpatrick was first established during the campaigns of governor Agricola sometime around 81AD, in order to act as a staging-point for sea-based operations on the west coast, many years before work on the Wall began.

The Dateable Pottery Evidence

Excavations at Old Kilpatrick have uncovered pottery sherds bearing the stamps of seven Antonine potters; Cucalus Form 27, Felicio Form 37, Gongius Form 33, Illiomarus Form 38, Illixo Forms 18/31 & 31 (2), Primulus Form 33 and Ritogenus Forms 31 & 27 (2).

The Numismatic Evidence

A total of nineteen coins have been recovered from the area of Old Kilpatrick, ranging from a sestertius of Galba found in a cellar beneath the treasury in the principia to a denarius of Lucilla, the wife of Marcus Aurelius, dated 161-9AD. Others issues include 5 Hadrianic and 4 Trajanic coins, 2 each of Vespasian and Antoninus Pius, and single examples of Domitian and Marcus Aurelius. Another 2 coins cannot be identified with certainty.

RIB 2207 - Inscription

No translation

Maitland gives no text and ‘could only discern that there had been an inscription there’. He thinks that it commemorated the length of wall built by a legion or a detachment. Macdonald considers that ‘it is in the highest degree unlikely that there was ever a second’ tablet besides RIB 2208 from this final sector. It seems on the whole more probable that the stone was a commemorative tablet from the fort of Old Kilpatrick.

There are four inscribed stones recorded in the R.I.B. for Old Kilpatrick, one of which was re-used as the threshold of a house at Fendyke to the west of the fort and rediscovered in 1757, the stone unfortunately now lost (RIB 2207; no text recorded). The other three were discovered in the 17th century and are now stored in the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow; all may be dated to the period 139-161AD and are shown above. In addition, another stone unearthed in the late 1960’s and reported in the Britannia Journal is expanded and translated below (Brit. 1970.20).

RIB 2205 - Distance Slab of the Sixth Legion

For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus, father of his country, a detachment of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis (did) the construction of the rampart for 4,141 feet.


Wrongly assigned by Gibson to Erskine, on the south side of the Clyde; and by Stuart to Chapel Hill, west of Old Kilpatrick. Measurement from the site where RIB 2204 was found shows that this stone must have stood about 110 m. east of the Dalnotter Burn, about 1.2 km. east of Old Kilpatrick fort.For the omission of Pio and recurrence of opus valli see RIB 2200.

RIB 2206 - Distance Slab of the Twentieth Legion

For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, a detachment of the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix built this for a distance of 4,411 feet.

[...]MP C T AE
[...]VG PIO P P
[...  ]EG XX V

It must have stood beside RIB 2205 to mark the east end of the final sector on the west. 6.  For p(er) p(edum) … (milia) see RIB 2197 n. For the number of units cf. RIB 2208. For Cupids as flanking figures cf. RIB 2198. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): A detached fragment has been identified, which preserves the rest of the right-hand pelta and lower rosette.

RIB 2208 - Distance Slab of the Twentieth Legion

For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, a detachment of the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix built this for a distance of 4,411 feet.

P <

Wrongly assigned to Ardoch by Sibbald. It must have marked the westward termination of the Antonine Wall and the completion of the work. For p(er) p(edum) … (milia) see RIB 2197 n.


“For Jupiter Best and Greatest, the First Cohort of Baetasii, Citizens of Rome, under the command of the prefect Publicius Maternus, and Aulus Julius Candidus, centurion of the First Italian Legion.”

(Britannia 1970.20)

References for Old Kilpatric Fort

  • The Roman Wall in Scotland by Sir George MacDonald (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1934) pp.332-341;
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
  • Britannia i (1970), p.310, no.20; The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
  • A Survey of the Coin Finds from the Antonine Wall by Richard Abdy in Britannia xxxiii (2002) pp.189-217;

Roman Roads near Old Kilpatric Fort

Antonine Wall: E (2.25) to Dvntocher (Strathclyde)

Sites near Old Kilpatric Roman Fort