Tarbat Ness Roman Station

Possible Roman Camp

Tarbat Ness Roman Stationis a possible site of a Roman Station located on the Tarbat Ness peninsula. It is thought to have been located on a small creek on the north side of Tarbat Ness, called Port-Chaistel or Castlehaven.

The only reference to a Roman Camp on Tarbat Ness comes from an article published  in 1798 in the “Archaeologia Scotica: Or, Transactions of the Society of …, Volume 2” written by a pastor and the historians named John Grant. In the article he speculated two Cairns and the remains of some earthworks, which he had discovered at Port a Chaistel, to the northof  Tarbat Ness would look as if they were the remains of a Roman camp and a praetorium. Unfortunately attempts to rediscover this camp were unsuccessful.

“There are two cairns. The western one is raised five or six feet, on a base of seventy-two feet in circumference, and upon that a small pyramid is built, six feet broad at the bottom, and elevated a few feet. This cairn is celled Ulli0 Vacum, The other cairn is east form the first about two hundred paces, and of similar shape, on a base of only half the dimensions, but rises to the same height. It is called Spadie-Lingum. They are both constructed without any art, of earth and the common muir stone.

A mile to the north-west of them is a place on the sea shore, called Port-a-chaistel, where there is an excellent harbour; and on the rising ground that commands it, are the vestiges of a military station and building, surrounded by two ditches, 20 feet asunder, and each 12 ft wide. The circumference of the area inclosed by the inner ditch is 100ft, from which there runs southward a rampart about a quarter of a mile in length with many curves and angles in it.

Near the outer ditch, and not far from the point of the rock above the harbour, is a beautiful square formation, of about an hundred paces of a side; and through the muir, near a mile round, are formed many circular fortifications about forty feet in circumference, with ramparts running southward from them, in the same stile as in the one mentioned before. The square has the appearance of a Praetorium; and the other works have probably been barracks for hutting the troops.  From the regularity and care taken in these constructions, they have the appearance of being Roman.”

Archaeologia Scotica: Or, Transactions of the Society of …, Volume 2 P39-40

Further reference is made in 1845:

“On the north side of Tarbot Ness, at a creek called port Chaistel, are the ruins of an old castle, overhanging the sea, and cut off from the land by a deep ditch and beside it, on the black moor is the vestige of a Roman Camp. Near the site of the lighthouse is the foundation of a monument, it is said built by the Romans as a landmark.”

The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Inverness, Ross and Cromarty 1845