Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-lb7rp Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-12T07:47:07.723Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Roman Military Presence at Dalswinton, Dumfriesshire: a Reassessment of the Evidence from Aerial, Geophysical and LiDAR Survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2019

W.S. Hanson
Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of
R.E. Jones
Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of
R.H. Jones
Historic Environment


The Roman military presence at Dalswinton is reassessed using a range of remote sensing techniques (geophysical survey, LiDAR and aerial photography). At Bankfoot the absence of internal buildings suggests the postulated vexillation fortress was a more temporary structure; while numerous pits/ovens were identified across the interior of the large Stracathro-type camp. The primary fort at Bankhead was provided with in-turned entrances and two small annexes attached to the north-west and south-east quadrants of the fort. A third much larger annexe extended southwards down to the river. Only pits and furnaces were recorded within the annexes, two of which were expanded in Phase 2. Various buildings, including legionary and auxiliary barracks, were identified in the expanded fort of Phase 2, whose orientation remained unchanged. A mixed garrison of legionaries and auxiliary cavalry is indicated for both periods of occupation. Finally, the fort was deliberately demolished. The Roman attribution of the three nearby enclosures at Butterhole Brae can no longer be supported.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2019. Published by The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Biggins, J.A., and Taylor, D.J.A. 2004a: ‘Geophysical survey of the vicus at Birdoswald Roman fort, Cumbria’, Britannia 35, 159–78Google Scholar
Biggins, J.A., and Taylor, D.J.A. 2004b: ‘The Roman fort and vicus at Maryport: geophysical survey 2000–2004’, in Wilson, R.J.A. and Caruana, I.D. (eds), Romans on the Solway. Essays in Honour of Richard Bellhouse, Kendal, 102–33Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1957: ‘Dalswinton and the Ala Petriana’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd series, 35 (1956–57), 913Google Scholar
Birley, E., and Richmond, I.A. 1940: ‘The Roman fort at Carzield’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd series, 22 (1938–40), 156–63Google Scholar
Bishop, M.C., and Freeman, P.W.M. 1993: Recent work at Osmanthorpe, Nottinghamshire’, Britannia 24, 159–89Google Scholar
Burnham, B.C., and Davies, J.L. (eds) 2010: Roman Frontiers in Wales and the Marches, AberystwythGoogle Scholar
Clarke, S. 2012: ‘Roman Dere Street and the road network around Newstead fort’, in Hunter and Keppie 2012, 92104Google Scholar
Cook, M., and Dunbar, L. 2008: Rituals, Roundhouses and Romans: Excavations at Kintore, Aberdeenshire 2000–2006. Vol. 1 Forest Road, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
Cowley, D.C. 2009: ‘Early Christian cemeteries in SW Scotland’, in Murray, J. (ed.), St Ninian and the Earliest Christianity in Scotland, Oxford, 4356Google Scholar
Davies, J.L. 2009: ‘Size matters: campaign forts in Britain’, Hanson, W.S. (ed.), The Army and Frontiers of Rome. Papers Offered to David Breeze on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday and his Retirement from Historic Scotland, Portsmouth, RI, 4454Google Scholar
Davison, D.P. 1989: The Barracks of the Roman Army from the 1st to the 3rd Centuries AD, OxfordGoogle Scholar
Dingwall, K., and Shepherd, J. 2018: Highway Through History: an Archaeological Journey on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
Frere, S.S. 1987: Britannia. A History of Roman Britain (3rd edn), LondonGoogle Scholar
Frere, S.S. 1985: ‘The pits: discussion’, in Pitts, L.F. and St Joseph, J.K.S., Inchtuthil. The Roman Legionary Fortress, Britannia Monograph 6, London, 229–39Google Scholar
Frere, S.S., and St Joseph, J.K.S. 1974: ‘The Roman fortress at Longthorpe’, Britannia 5, 1129Google Scholar
Hanson, W.S. 1991: Agricola and the Conquest of the North (2nd edn), LondonGoogle Scholar
Hanson, W.S. 2002: ‘Amongst the field systems 1: Monktonhall’, in Bishop, M. (ed.), Roman Inveresk: Past, Present and Future, Duns, 2331Google Scholar
Hanson, W.S. 2007: Elginhaugh: a Flavian Fort and its Annexe, Britannia Monograph 23, LondonGoogle Scholar
Hanson, W.S. 2012: ‘Newstead and Roman Scotland: the Flavian to Antonine periods’, in Hunter and Keppie 2012, 6275Google Scholar
Hanson, W.S. in prep.: Excavations at Monktonhall, Inveresk, East Lothian 1984, Scottish Archaeological Internet ReportsGoogle Scholar
Harding, A.F., and Lee, G.E. 1987: Henge Monuments and Related Sites of Great Britain: Air Photographic Evidence and Catalogue, OxfordGoogle Scholar
Hartley, B.R. 1972: ‘The Roman occupation of Scotland: the evidence of samian ware’, Britannia 3, 155Google Scholar
Hodgson, N. 2003: The Roman Fort at Wallsend (Segedunum). Excavations in 1997–98, Newcastle upon TyneGoogle Scholar
Hopewell, D. 2005: ‘Roman fort environs in north-west Wales’, Britannia 26, 225–69Google Scholar
Hopewell, D., and Hodgson, N. 2012: ‘Further work at Llanfor Roman military complex’, Britannia 43, 2944Google Scholar
Hunter, F., and Keppie, L. (eds) 2012: A Roman Frontier Post and its People. Newstead 1911–2011, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
Johnson, A. 1983: Roman Forts of the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD in Britain and the German Provinces, LondonGoogle Scholar
Jones, R.H. 2011: Roman Camps in Scotland, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
Jones, R.H. 2014: ‘Known unknowns: “Invisible” people in temporary camps’, in Collins, R. and McIntosh, F. (eds), Life in the Limes, Oxford, 172–82Google Scholar
Macdonald, G., and Park, A. 1906: The Roman Forts on the Bar Hill, GlasgowGoogle Scholar
Manning, W.H. 2006: ‘The Roman fort at Newstead: the weapons and garrisons’, in Wilson, R.J.A. (ed.), Romanitas. Essays on Roman Archaeology in Honour of Sheppard Frere on the Occasion of his Ninetieth Birthday, Oxford, 7494Google Scholar
Maxwell, G.S. 1989: The Romans in Scotland, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
Maxwell, G.S. 1998: ‘Agricola and Roman Scotland: some structural evidence’, in Bird, J. (ed.), Form and Fabric, Studies in Rome's Material Past in Honour of B.R. Hartley, Oxford, 1320Google Scholar
Maxwell, G.S., and Wilson, D.R. 1987: ‘Air reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977–84’, Britannia 18, 148Google Scholar
McCarthy, M.R. 1991: Roman Waterlogged Remains and Later Features at Castle Street, Carlisle. Excavations 1981–2, KendalGoogle Scholar
Neubauer, W., Doneus, M., Trinks, I., and Löcker, K. 2012: ‘Long-term integrated archaeological prospection at the Roman town of Carnuntum/Austria’, in Johnson, P. and Millett, M., Archaeological Survey and the City, Oxford, 202–22Google Scholar
Richmond, I.A. 1950: ‘Excavations at the Roman fort of Newstead, 1947’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 84 (1949–50), 138Google Scholar
Richmond, I.A. 1968: Hod Hill. Vol. 2. Excavations carried out between 1951 and 1958 for the Trustees of the British Museum, LondonGoogle Scholar
Richmond, I.A., and St Joseph, J.K.S. 1952: ‘The Roman fort at Glenlochar, Kirkcudbrightshire’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd series, 30 (1951–52), 116Google Scholar
Richmond, I.A., and St Joseph, J.K.S. 1956: ‘The Roman fort at Dalswinton in Nithsdale’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd series, 34 (1955–56), 921Google Scholar
Sommer, C.S. 2012: ‘Newstead: the occupation around the forts’, in Hunter and Keppie 2012, 7691Google Scholar
St Joseph, J.K.S. 1951: ‘Air reconnaissance of north Britain’, Journal of Roman Studies 41, 5265Google Scholar
St Joseph, J.K.S. 1973: ‘Air reconnaissance in Roman Britain, 1969–72’, Journal of Roman Studies 63, 214–46Google Scholar
St Joseph, J.K.S. 1976: ‘Air reconnaissance of Roman Scotland, 1939–75’, Glasgow Archaeological Journal 4, 128Google Scholar
St Joseph, J.K.S. 1977: ‘Air reconnaissance in Roman Britain, 1973–76’, Journal of Roman Studies 67, 125–61Google Scholar
Steer, K.A., and Feachem, R.W. 1952: ‘The Roman fort and temporary camp at Oakwood, Selkirkshire’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 86, 81105Google Scholar
Tipping, R. 1997: ‘The environmental history of the landscape’, in RCAHMS, Eastern Dumfriesshire: an Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh, 1025Google Scholar
Tomlin, R.S.O. 1992: ‘The Twentieth Legion at Wroxeter and Carlisle in the first century: the epigraphic evidence’, Britannia 23, 141–58Google Scholar
Tomlin, R.S.O. 1998: ‘Roman manuscripts from Carlisle’, Britannia 29, 3184Google Scholar
Walker, R., Gaffney, C., Gater, J., and Wood, E. 2005: ‘Fluxgate gradiometry and square array resistance survey at Drumlanrig, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland’, Archaeological Prospection 12, 131–6Google Scholar
Wilson, D.R. 2000: Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists, StroudGoogle Scholar
Young, T. 2010: ‘Caergwanaf’, in Burnham and Davies 2010, 214–16Google Scholar
Zant, J. 2009: The Carlisle Millennium Project. Excavations in Carlisle, 1998–2001 Vol. 1: The Stratigraphy, LancasterGoogle Scholar