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Moated Site (Medieval)

Site Name Fortingall

Classification Moated Site (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Praetorium

Canmore ID 24963

Site Number NN74NW 1

NGR NN 7340 4665

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Fortingall
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NN74NW 1 7340 4665.

(NN 7340 4665) Praetorium (R) (Remains of)

ROMAN CAMP (R) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1901)

The "praetorium" is a medieval moated site consisting of a squarish area surrounded by a bank and a broad, wet ditch.

The "Roman Camp", enclosing 80 acres, may have been imagined from the small bank and ditch running NW from the NW corner and from others on the surrounding plain. There is nothing Roman here and every indication of medieval work, borne out by the discovery of a copper vessel, with a beak, handle, and three feet.

O G S Crawford 1949; T Pennant 1776; W Roy 1793

A small jar or amphora, 4" high, with one of the loop handles broken off, otherwise perfect, found at Fortingall "Roman Camp" site, is in the Smith Institute, Stirling. It is of coarse yellowish clay, covered with blackish paint (Acc No: AQ 4).

Smith Institute 1934

The "preaetorium" is a well-preserved homestead moat situated on a flat river terrace, partly under grass and part overgrown with bracken. It measures overall about 70.0m E-W by 63.5m, with a ditch, 15.0m average width; the latter is now dry except for the S arm which is marshy. The moated area is raised and flat c.1.5m above the surrounding ground level. Some ground disturbance is suggestive of buried wall foundations, but there is much stone clearance both in the moated area and in the moat itself.

The supposition of a "Roman Camp" occupying the field to the W of the moat is probably based on two well-defined river terrace scarps on the S and W sides of the field.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (NKB) 29 September 1975

No change to previous field report.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (MJF) 29 November 1978

This site is listed in an Atlas of Scottish History (McNeill and MacQueen 1996) as a moated site.

Information from RCAHMS (DE) September 1997


Field Visit (28 May 1957)

A description of this earthwork is given by Crawford in his ‘Topography of Roman Scotland' (p.78) but the following points should be noted:

1) Crawford’s compass-points are not always reliable,

2) As the Commission’s plan shows, the earthwork is not ‘a squarish structure’ but is definitely oblong,

3) The inner bank is obviously secondary since it lies 5 ft. back from the margin of the ditch on the W and N sides. The so-called ‘ditch’ behind it is merely the trench from which the upcast material used for the bank has been obtained. It is possible, in fact, that the mound has been stone faced.

4) The causeway on the E side looks secondary, and like the inner bank may be the result of a later adaptation of the site. The original causeway is in the N side, and has dammed up the silt deposited by the burn that formerly flowed into the NW corner of the ditch, with the result that the level of the ditch to the W of the causeway is 5 ft higher than it is to the E of it.

5) The round ‘stone structure’ in the SE corner is simply a fragment of a turf-covered wall. It is not round, and, although its purpose is uncertain, it is clearly of no great antiquity.

Visited by RCAHMS (KAS) 28 May 1957.

Publication Account (1987)

On the flat river-terrace to the south-east of the village there is an unusual medieval earthwork of a class known as homestead moats (NN 734466); described on early editions of Ordnance Survey maps as Praetorium and thought of as part of a Roman camp, it, is in fact a rectangular moat with an inner and formerly an outer bank, within which there would originally have been timber buildings and perhaps a wooden stockade associated with the inner bank. The ditch is about 15 m broad and the central area is about 1.5 m above the level of the surrounding ground. There is an entrance causeway on the eastern flank of the moat.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Field Visit (1996 - 2003)

Russell Coleman managed an Historic Scotland funded project to record medieval moated sites in Scotland. Gazetteers were produced for each regional council area between 1996 and 2002 with an uncompleted overall review in 2002-03. The results of the first year of the project were published in Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal, Volume 3 (1997).


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