Did You Know?
- Romans in Scotland

Roman Sculpture

Julius Ceasar and the Romans arrived in Britain in 55BC but it was not until AD 43 that they arrived in numbers to conquer southern Britain. In AD 79 the Roman Governor Agricola advanced into Scotland in a series of campaigns, establishing forts along the way. By AD 83 he had marched up the east coast as far as present day Aberdeenshire. He was harried by the "Caledonii" tribe but defeated them and their leader, Calgacus, at a pitched battle at Mons Graupius (possibly near Inverurie).

The Roman forts remained occupied for a time but gradually the Romans pulled back to the Cheviots (roughly the border between Scotland and England).

In the early 120s AD, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, a wall was built across the North of England from the Solway Firth to the North Sea. Parts of Hadrian's Wall have survived to the present day.

Roman Bath House Hadrian was succeeded by Antonius Pius (pictured above) who in 142AD ordered the Roman army to move north and build a new wall across the country from the river Clyde at Old Kilpatrick to the river Forth at Bo'Ness, a distance of 37 miles. The Antonine Wall was made from a stone base with a turf wall, 15 feet wide at the base and a ditch in front. As a result, little of this wall has survived but the foundations of some of the 30 forts and Roman bath houses can still be seen. A number of other forts were built on the supply routes in Southern Scotland and a few forts north of the wall were also constructed, notably at Ardoch, Strageath and Bertha (Perth).

Roman Coins By AD 160-170 most of the forts had been abandoned and the Roman army returned to Hadrian's Wall. Nevertheless, Roman influence would still have been felt, if only from the Roman coins used to bribe the local people to co-operate.

In AD208 the Emperor Septimius Severus arrived in Britain with his son Caracalla. They mounted a campaign in the North against the "Maetae" and the "Caledonii". 40,000 Roman soldiers invaded and advanced "almost to the end of the island". Peace treaties were signed with the local tribes and some more Roman forts were established.

In 297AD Roman historians mention attacks from the "Picti" (Picts or "painted people") for the first time. Although the Picts were defeated in a battle in 306AD, Roman power was already on the wane. With their decline, there is little recorded history in Scotland (the Picts left no written documents) for several hundred years. By the 7th century AD, the Picts were still in control of the Highlands, the Angles in the south-east and a kingdom of Bretons, based at Dumbarton, occupied Strathclyde. The Scots, from Ireland, were just starting to make inroads into Argyll.

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