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Publication Account

Date 17 December 2011

Event ID 922033

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Macfarlane noted a ‘trench capable to contain several thousands of men’ just to the north-east of Dunning, which he presumed to relate to the battles in the 14th century (1726, in Mitchell 1906: 121). This was noted by Crawford, who, following Macfarlane’s reference, also recorded a small stretch of upstanding bank and ditch in Kincladie Wood, commenting that it could be a fragment of a Roman camp (1949: 59). Feachem and officers of the OS archaeology division re-examined the site in 1970, and suggested that the remaining stretch in the wood was the remains of the north side of a camp of Stracathro-type (Wilson 1970: 274).

Parts of four sides of the camp were subsequently recorded as cropmarks from the air, with further information recorded through excavation (St Joseph 1973: 218–19). It lies on undulating ground immediately northeast of the village of Dunning, with housing covering the south-west angle and parts of the west side. The Dunning Burn, a tributary of the River Earn, lies immediately to the west. The camp is rhomboidal in form, measuring about 705m from west to east by 660m transversely, enclosing some 47.3ha (117 acres). The surviving stretch of rampart in Kincladie Wood on the north side of the camp is about 120m in length, and about 3m in width and up to 0.6m in height; its accompanying ditch is about 3.4m in width and 0.3m in depth. An additional linear cropmark is visible in the north-east corner of the camp and may also be Roman, potentially representing a reduction in the length of the camp to some 565m, reducing the overall area to about 39ha (95 acres). This may be the same linear cropmark noted by St Joseph (Dunwell and Keppie 1995: 61n).

An entrance gap protected by a titulus has been recorded, and excavated, in the centre of the west side, and a further titulus is visible in the western portion of the south side. In addition, a titulus has also been recorded in the west part of the north side in Kincladie Wood (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 6; not depicted on illus 118). The camp has been subject to excavations on several occasions, with St Joseph recording, in the 1970s, that the ditch measured about 2.7m in width and 1m in depth on the west side and up to 1.5m in depth on the north and east. The north titulus ditch was up to 0.6m in depth (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebooks 5 and 6).

Further excavations just east of the north entrance recorded a U-shaped shallow ditch, some 3m wide and 0.75m deep, that had possibly been narrowed and reused (Dunwell and Keppie 1995: 53). Subsequent excavationsat the western entrance also suggested recutting at themain camp ditch termini, although not of the titulus ditch. There was a further break in the ditch c 11.75m north of the gate. The titulus ditch (some 14.5m in length) was up to 3.3m in width and 1.6m in depth. Eleven sherds from a BB2 bowl, probably dating to the Antonine period, were recovered from the fill of this ditch (Dunwell and Keppie 1995).

Dunning lies close to the place named ‘Duncrub’, which Watson first linked with Mons Graupius (1926: 56). Feachem took this reference further, proposing the area as the site of the battle, and publishing an inaccurate plan of the site, complete with Stracathro-type gateways (1970). This argument has recently been supported by Fraser, who unfortunately fails to correct the assertion that the camp had Stracathro-type gateways and also stated that it faced the Cairnie Braes to the north (2005: 72–6) ignoring the evidence for the traverse gateways and the likelihood that the camp probably faced east or west (the latter towards Duncrub). The evidence that Fraser advances is insufficient to assert that the site related to the battle with any confidence. (For further discussion of postulated sites for Mons Graupius, see Chapter 3.)

R H Jones

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