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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 819949

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NS77NW 10 7335 7652.

(NS 7335 7652) Roman Fort (R) (site of)

OS 6" map (1968)

The site of Croy Hill Roman fort occupies the larger half of a plateau on the E side of the hill. The 18th century historians stated that traces of the fort were either very indistinct or totally levelled. In their time, a hamlet was flourishing there, adding to the destruction of the fort. The ruins of a farmstead and a few trees now occupy the site. Roman stones have long been recorded from Croy Hill, including many building stones tooled with diamond and other patterns, noted by the Glasgow Archeol Soc's Antonine Wall Committee when cutting sections across the Wall and Ditch on Croy Hill.

Excavations by Sir George Macdonald in 1920, 1931 and 1935 have recovered much of the plan of the fort. Internally it measured 243ft from E to W by 270ft, enclosing an area of 1 1/2 acres. It abutted the Antonine Wall on the N, and on the remaining three sides was surrounded by a turf rampart, with three ditches on the W, and two on the S. In the centre of the fort were found the remains of the Headquarters Building and a granary. In the NE corner there was a remarkable stone-built well, later built over by a corner tower. A bath-house stood just outside the NE corner. Evidence for alterations and modifications was noted in certain of the fort buildings.

Under the Antonine fort, there was found a trench delimiting a fortlet, enclosing an area of about 3/4 acre with an annexe to the S of it, of roughly the same area. A Flavian date is suggested for the fortlet (A S Robertson, M Scott and L Keppie 1975), which is comparable with that a Bar Hill (NS77NW 8). However, preliminary excavation in 1975 discovered Antonine coarse pottery in the silting of the ditches of this fortlet, confirming doubts regarding the early dating. Excavation is to continue for a further period (Current Archaeol 1975).

The numerous finds from Macdonald's excavations are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

G Macdonald 1925; 1932; 1934; 1936 J Blaeu 1654; A S Robertson 1973

No vestiges of this fort are to be seen. A few small dressed stones can be found in the ruined walls of the farmstead. The site is located on high ground in rough pasture.

Visited by OS (JLD) 14 January 1957

Excavations from 1975-8, in response to renewed quarrying activity in the area, were in areas outside the fort, to the SW, S and E.

W S Hanson 1975; 1976; 1977

The double ditched 'fortlet' found by Macdonald under and to the S of the fort, was found to be a 2nd century construction camp for an actual Wall fortlet discovered on the W side of the fort in 1977 (see NS77NW 29).

Indication of a 'vicus' was found on the flat expanse of ground W of the fort and an area of farming allotments or minor industrial activity to the E. A substantial E-W road linked these areas and presumably continued beyond. Further S, another road of unknown association was located. Numerous 2nd century finds include coins of Trajan and Domitian, a possible altar base, a bronze arm purse, fragments of a face mask, and boot nails and pottery. Fragments of 'native' pottery, two beaker sherds and a barbed and tanged arrowhead indicate earlier occupation in the area. A whetstone from SE of the fort is in the NMAS. A full excavation report is pending.

W S Hanson 1978; R Goodburn 1978; 1979; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1978

The excavations have been backfilled so there is now no no surface evidence of the fort, vicus or allotment areas. Quarrying has not so far encroached upon the area.

Visited by OS (MJF) 2 June 1980.



Possible pottery kiln outside fort.

D J Breeze 1987.

NS 7335 7652 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken in July 2000 while minor excavations were carried out in advance of the positioning of a new access gate to the N of the Croy Miners' Social Club. This area is known to lie on the course of the Antonine Wall vallum, with the wall itself running along the N side of the miners' club car park. Three holes up to 400mm deep were machine-excavated for the new gate posts. No archaeological deposits were disturbed, indicating the extent of the modern overburden in this area.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Stewart 2000

This fort occupied one of the highest points on the line, about 120m above sea level. The N gate of the fort was situated at a break in the Antonine Wall (NS77NW 49.00), the base of which, in similar fashion to Westerwood had been laid down first, to a width of 4.3m. The fort rampart base, certainly on the W side, slightly overlapped the base of the Wall. Outside the N gate there was a brief stretch of cobbled road, although no break in the Ditch, 12m wide at this point, was evident. To the E of the fort was a 25m long "Bridge". There were two or three ditches along the S and W sides of the fort, but on the N section of the E front there was only one ditch, and there was a total absence of ditches on the S section of that front or the E section of the S front.

Remains of a stone headquarters building and a granary were discovered in the heart of the fort. A remarkable stone-built well, built over by a corner tower at a later date, was situated in the NE corner, and just outside this corner was a bath-house. Certain of the buildings show evidence of alterations and modifications. Intermittent finds on Croy Hill, including an altar to the Nymphs and characteristic building stones point to the presence of a detachment of the Sixth Legion at the fort.

Further excavations were carried out to the S and E of the fort between 1975 and 1978. Evidence of a civil settlement was discovered to the SW and on the exposed hillside to the E there were indications of agricultural and industrial activity. There were some small finds, including a storage jar holding cremated human remains and afragmented bronze armpurse. The existence of a bypass road running S of the fort was also determined.

George Macdonald had first noted in 1931 a small enclosure of about 0.75 acres, with an attached annexe of equal size to the S of it. However, his dating to the Flavian period has now been revised. A construction party of the Antonine times seems now to have been the more likely occupants, possibly soldiers building the fortlet (NS77NW 29) discovered in 1977 on a small plateau situated some 80m of the fort on Croy Hill.

AS Robertson and L Keppie 2001.

NS 723 762 A watching brief was carried out in January and February 2004 during the excavation of a service trench for a new community building. The trench crossed part of the Scheduled area associated with the Antonine Wall (NS77NW 10), the course of which runs immediately N of the new building. A number of large stones set into the subsoil at the base of the trench were interpreted as the possible base of the Antonine Wall. There was no further evidence for the construction of the wall, nor were there any finds from the excavations.

Report lodged with WoSAS SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Core Utilities.

R Coleman 2004

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