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ARDOCH Perthshire, Scotland.

The most impressive Roman auxiliary fort in Scotland is at Ardoch, 16 km N of Stirling. On the Roman trunk road from Camelon (q.v.) to the Tay and Strathmore, it also commands two lateral routes, one E along the foot of the Ochils and the other NW by the Knaik Water to Dalginross. Today the most striking feature is the complicated ditch system on the N and E sides of the fort. The S side has been largely obliterated by cultivation, and the W defenses by the modern road from Greenloaning to Crieff.

It is clear from the plan, and from 1896 excavations, that the existing remains comprise two forts. The earlier, an oblong enclosure of ca. 2.5 ha, was defended by a rampart and three ditches. Subsequently this was reduced to 2 ha by cutting off the N end, but at the same time the number of ditches was increased to five. The new fort was therefore exceptionally strong, and the ditches were rendered more formidable by erecting mounds of dumped upcast on the flat spaces between them, thereby increasing their effective width and depth. Later still an external bank was added, starting at the NW angle and terminating opposite an external clavicula at the E gate. The disposition of the four gates shows that the later of the two forts faced S.

All the visible defenses probably date to the Antonine period, but the excavations revealed the presence of an earlier buried ditch, and the finds included Flavian as well as Antonine pottery. Moreover, although only about a quarter of the interior of the later fort was examined, the buildings marked on the plan show at least three, and possibly four, structural periods: the latest is represented by a barrack-block with stone walls, while the earlier buildings were constructed of timber. It seems likely, therefore, that a fort was first established here by Agricola ca. A.D. 83; that another fort was erected on the same site ca. A.D. 140 as an outpost of the Antonine Wall; and that the latter was drastically remodeled and strengthened in late Antonine times. But further excavation is needed. The fort has been tentatively identified with the Alauna of Ptolemy's Geographia, and a tombstone found in the 17th c. commemorates a centurion of the Cohors I Hispanorum. But both the buildings and the acreage of the two Antonine forts suggest a larger garrison, probably cavalry.

To the N are slight remains of a large annex bounded by a single rampart and ditch, and also of two marching camps, one of 25.2 ha and the other of 48 ha, which are believed to have been built during successive campaigns of the emperor Septimius Severus against the tribes in the N in A.D. 208-211. On the E the defenses of the larger camp cut through a small signal station beside the Roman road, consisting of a timber tower enclosed by double ditches. Several more camps have been detected in the same area, and also E of the fort, by crop marks on air photographs. The Roman road is visible almost without interruption for ca. 1.6 km on either side of the fort: it bypasses the defenses on the E, but branch roads are provided to the N and S gates. Apart from the tombstone, which is in the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, the finds from the site are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland.


Proc. Soc. Ant. Scotland 32 (1898) 399-476; Britannia 1 (1970).


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