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Strageath

Roman Fort (Roman), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Site Name Strageath

Classification Roman Fort (Roman), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Strageath Mains

Canmore ID 25296

Site Number NN81NE 2

NGR NN 8980 1800

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/25296

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NN81NE 2.00 8980 1800

NN81NE 2.01 8964 1802 Annexes

NN81NE 2.02 8958 1807 Enclosure

NN81NE 2.03 8963 1831 Cropmarks; Enclosures (possible)

NN81NE 2.04 897 190 Flint Blade

Not to be confused with Roman temporary camp at Strageath Cottage (centred NN 8904 1803), for which see NN81NE 16.

(NN 898 180) Strageath (NAT) Roman Fort (R)

Annotation on (undated) OS map.

Identified by Richmond with the Victoria of Ptolemy's Geography. A two-period site, one probably Antonine.

I A Richmond 1958

The ramparts of the fort have been nearly levelled by cultivation. On the level ground west of the fort Roy's plan and Crawford's air-photo show a number of banks which cannot now be reduced to any order. They may represent the defences of an earlier fort that was, as in other cases, superseded by a smaller one. The recorded finds consist of part of an amphora and an axe. In National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS] (Accession no: FT 20,21).

O G S Crawford 1949

The complicated ditch-system was revealed by air photography in 1957.

J K St Joseph 1958

Part of the west and south sides of the earlier fort can be traced. The inner rampart of the second period fort can also be traced, as a spread bank, best preserved at the SE corner where it is 23.0m wide x 0.7m high. Nothing further can be established from the numerous cropmarks and slight banks visible on AP's and on the ground. The axe and amphora are still in the NMAS.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 17 May 1967

A mortarium fragment found within the fort has been dated to the 2nd century by Dr Anne Robertson.This is thought to be the first datable find from the site. It is in the Hunterian Museum.

D M Lye 1970

In the final season of this fourteen-year excavation three trenches were dug, one to determine the successive building-lines on the south edge of the retentura and one each across the blocks in the central range north and south of the principia

(i) In the Flavian period (a) north of the principia nine equal-sized rooms and a tenth containing a latrine pit are thought to represent an accommodation block behind the praetorium (b) South of the principia lay a hospital and other building aligned E-W. Beyond the intervallum road lay an ascensus of turf. (c) In the retentura the centurion's quarters in Barrack X were defined: unlike those at the other side of the retentura this block was not detached from the contubernia.

(ii) In the Antonine I fort (a) north of the principia a store-building ran N-S with rooms each side of a central partition: clay sling bullets were found scattered in the southern end of the building. (b) South of the principia a number of irregularly-disposed rooms are thought to represent the rear of a praetorium 31m wide. Several had gravel floors, allowing the widths of partition-walls of clay and timber to be defined. (c) in the retentura the centurion's block of barrack X was defined, beyond which ran a large plank-lined drain along the inner edge of the via sagularis.

(iii) In the Antonine II fort (a) north of the principia the area was again occupied by the rear range of the praetorium; this was 31.4m wide with two ranges of rooms aligned E-W separated by a courtyard 7.6m wide. (b) South of the principia lay four buildings aligned E-W, beyond which a substantial stone drain cut through the via sagularis obliquely towards the south-east. (c) In the retentura the south end of Building IX, previously thought to be a store-building, was found divided into a number of small rooms suitable for a centurion's quarters. Beyond these the via sagularis was less than 2m wide, having been encroached upon by a masonry bath-building unexpectedly found to be occupying the intervallum space. The bath-building was 6.48m wide (its other side, encroaching on the back of the south rampart), and 24.31m long. The heated rooms were at the east end with a sub-floor of substantial boulders set in clay. No tiles had been used in the building which had been thoroughly demolished. The amount of stiff red clay overlying the remains suggests that the upper walling was substantially of this material. Although in use in Antonine II, the baths were possibly constructed during the Antonine I occupation.

S S Frere 1987

Excavations of this fort between 1973 and 1986 indicated three successive phases of military occupation with a complete remodelling of the defences on each re-occupation. The Flavian fort was built in the late first century AD, perhaps as early as AD 80, with evacuation no later than AD 87. The second fort (Antonine I) was built about AD 142, this occupation coming to an end within the period AD 155-8. By 158, however, the site was reoccupied (Antonine II), before being finally evacuated by 164 at the latest (Frere and Wilkes 1989). A recent assessment of the Antonine occupation of Scotland has cast significant doubt on whether there was a distinct Antonine II phase, suggesting instead a single 2nd century occupation (Hodgson 1995). While the weight of excavated evidence from Strageath indicates two distinct Antonine phases, in the light of this research it may be more appropriate to see this in terms of rebuilding rather than reoccupation after a period of abandonment.

Excavation was confined to the fort and did not investigate the complex of annexes to the W. Prehistoric activity on the fort site is attested through the excavations, both through the identification of cultivated soils under the rampart and in the recovery of a few artefacts. Pottery dating from the earlier half of the 1st millennium BC and possibly also from the 3rd millennium BC were recovered, together with a collection of undiagnostic flints. The tip of a fine Mesolithic blade was found in the interior of the fort in March 1997.

The fort is situated on a ridge which extends up to an escarpment on the W of the River Earn. The ground falls away to an unnamed burn on the S and also to the low-lying ground on the N, where the River Earn, after running E to W, turns to the S to run past the fort on the E. To the W the ground drops away very gently, and does not rise appreciably for at least 400m. Despite being under the plough, some elements of the fort are visible on the ground and are recorded on a contour survey undertaken in March 1997. The line of the rampart is clearly visible as a swelling in the surface of the ground up to about 0.8m in height, but with no visible breaks to mark the locations of the entrances. The S and W sides of the annexe can also be traced as a low spread bank, and the line of the road running into the fort through the annexes can be traced as a low gravel ridge.

Much fine detail of the defences is visible on the aerial photographs taken prior to the campaign of excavation. The cropmarks of the rampart measure about 10m across, corresponding to the thickness of the final phase of fortification identified in the excavations. In places the outer lip of the inner ditch, which was partly built over in the final phase, can also be detected. In addition the lines of a further five defensive ditches are visible, the outer ones relating to the construction of the annexes to the W of the fort in the Antonine occupation.

Further ditches are visible as cropmarkings to the WNW and NW of the fort. Three sides of what may have been a rectangular enclosure, measuring about 48m from N to S by at least 30m transversely within a ditch about 4m across, lie to the W of the fort (NN 8958 1809). A gap on the S may have been an entrance giving access to the road. Further ditches are visible in the field to the SE of the farm, perhaps forming additional annexes taking in most of the lower lying ground to the N of the fort. Several large maculae in this field may have been quarries (NN 8976 1827, NN 8981 1822).

The lighter cropmarks of the road are clearly visible running into the fort from the W. A branch runs along the W of the northern annexe, before turning E towards the river. A road also runs out of the N entrance of the fort.

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 26 November 1997

S Frere and J Wilkes 1989; N Hodgson 1995

Excavations of this fort between 1973 and 1986 indicated three successive phases of military occupation with a complete remodelling of the defences on each re-occupation. The Flavian fort was built in the late 1st century AD, perhaps as early as AD 80, with evacuation no later than AD 87. The second fort (Antonine I) was built about AD 142, this occupation coming to an end within the period AD 155-8. By AD 158, however, the site was reoccupied (Antonine II), before being finally evacuated by AD 164 at the latest (Frere and Wilkes 1989). A recent assessment of the Antonine occupation of Scotland has cast significant doubt on whether there was a distinct Antonine II phase, suggesting instead a single 2nd century occupation (Hodgson 1995). While the weight of excavated evidence from Strageath indicates two distinct Antonine phases, in the light of this research it may be more appropriate to see this in terms of rebuilding rather than reoccupation after a period of abandonment.

Excavation was confined to the fort and did not investigate the complex of annexes to the W. Prehistoric activity on the fort site is attested through the excavations, both through the identification of cultivated soils under the rampart and in the recovery of a few artefacts. Pottery dating from the earlier half of the 1st millennium BC and possibly also from the 3rd millennium BC were recovered, together with a collection of undiagnostic flints. The tip of a fine Mesolithic blade (NN81NE 2.04) was found in the interior of the fort in March 1997.

The fort is situated on a ridge which extends up to an escarpment on the W of the River Earn. The ground falls away to an unnamed burn on the S and also to the low-lying ground on the N, where the River Earn, after running E to W, turns to the S to run past the fort on the E. To the W the ground drops away very gently, and does not rise appreciably for at least 400m. Despite being under the plough, some elements of the fort are visible on the ground and are recorded on a contour survey undertaken in March 1997. The line of the rampart is clearly visible as a swelling in the surface of the ground up to about 0.8m in height, but with no visible breaks to mark the locations of the entrances. The S and W sides of the annexe can also be traced as a low spread bank, and the line of the road running into the fort through the annexes can be traced as a low gravel ridge.

Much fine detail of the defences is visible on the aerial photographs taken prior to the campaign of excavation. The cropmarks of the rampart measure about 10m across, corresponding to the thickness of the final phase of fortification identified in the excavations. In places the outer lip of the inner ditch, which was partly built over in the final phase, can also be detected. In addition the lines of a further five defensive ditches are visible, the outer ones relating to the construction of the annexes to the W of the fort in the Antonine occupation.

Further ditches are visible as cropmarkings to the WNW and NW of the fort.

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 26 November 1997

S Frere and J Wilkes 1989

Scheduled (with NN81NE 2.01 and NN81NE 38 ) as Strageath Mains, Roman fort, annexe and field system.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 3 July 2000.

Roman artefacts NN 90 18 Copper-alloy objects found to the N and NE of the Roman fort (NN81NE 2) include a number of Roman items. Key among these are two fragments of cavalry harness strap junction loops, a sword hilt guard of Piggott Group IV A, and a projecting disc-headed pin with enamelled head.

Claimed as Treasure Trove (TT.26/05) and allocated to NMS.

F Hunter 2005

Activities

Excavation (2008)

NN 898 180 The geophysical survey conducted last year (DES 2007, 166) was extended to the W and S to provide a fuller picture of the fort’s surroundings and southern defences. Excavations were opened to investigate a series of large magnetic anomalies to the W of the fort which might represent funerary activity. Instead, the Roman Gask frontier road was found leading W in remarkably good condition through a long ploughed field, with the substructure and much of the original surfacing still extant. Two heavy square flags immediately beside the line may represent altar bases. Additional trenches were dug further to the N to investigate a series of strong magnetic anomalies that had been traced during the geophysical survey right around the northern and north-western parts of the fort. These were suspected hearths, possible signs of vicus and/or industrial activity. In the event they proved to be caused by natural pockets of iron containing glacial sand, although one right-angled gully was uncovered which was probably an old field corner.

Archive: 55 Broadwalk, Pownall Park, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5PL

Funder: Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust

B Hoffmann and D J Woolliscroft (The Roman Gask Project), 2008

Geophysical Survey

NN 898 180 A large-scale resistance and magnetic survey was conducted, taking in the entire fort and its annexes, along with a significant area to the N where a network of roads has been detected from the air. The fort survey clarified the picture of the complex sequence of defences, known from past work, while the area to the N detected major magnetic anomalies which could indicate hearths and furnaces and might thus indicate vicus activity.

Archive deposited with the the Roman Gask Project.

Funder: The Roman Gask Project.

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