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Roman Fort (Roman)

Site Name Stracathro

Classification Roman Fort (Roman)

Alternative Name(s) Smiddyhill; Inchbare; West Water

Canmore ID 35945

Site Number NO66NW 18

NGR NO 61700 65750

NGR Description Centred NO 61700 65750

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Stracathro
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO66NW 18 centred NO 61700 65750

See also NO66NW 13.

For circular enclosure at Smiddyhill (NO 6145 6586) within the scheduled area, see NO66NW 89.

(NO 6170 6575) A large Roman fort, one of the series of auxiliary forts screening the Agricolan legionary fortress at Inchtuthill (NO13NW 5), was identified from air photos in 1957. Subsequent photography has revealed that is is defended on the NW and SW by two ditches and on the SE by three. The steep river-scarp above the bank of the West Water now cuts into the north angle.

The dimensions within the ditches are estimated at nearly 600' NE-SW by 475', an area of some 6 acres. An enclosure 200' in depth attached to the southern half of the SW front would appear to be an annexe defended by a single broad ditch. Much of it lies within the area of the temporary camp (NO66NW 13).

In 1957 St Joseph sectioned the outer ditch on the SE side revealing the typical V-shaped profile and establishing its dimensions as 14' wide and 7' deep. He deduced that the gate on that side, which divides the length in a ratio of two to three, was the 'porta principalis dextra' and that the fort therefore faced NE. Dr Robertson, however, in excavating an extension to the burial ground which lies within the fort in 1969 discovered what she interpreted as a barrack-block suggesting that the fort faced NW or SE.

Finds from the excavations include Flavian Samian and an 'As' of 86 AD in mint condition identical with some found at Inchtuthill.

J K St Joseph 1958; 1961; A S Robertson 1969.

No ground trace

Visited by OS (A A) 8 September 1971.

Scheduled with NO66NW 13 as Stracathro, Roman fort and camp.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 22 March 2002.


Geophysical Survey (24 March 2008 - 15 May 2008)

NO 6170 6575 The survey undertaken 24 March–15 May 2008 demonstrated that despite a high noise background due to a strongly magnetic topsoil, the main outer ditches and some internal structure of the fort can be delineated using a magnetometer. An area of large anomalies to the SW of the present parish church (which is inside the fort limits) might mark the site of an earlier medieval church, rather than Roman industry.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Blairgowrie Geoscience

P Morris (Blairgowrie Geoscience), 2008

Geophysical Survey (2012)

NO 6170 6575 and NO 61370 65610 Resistance and magnetic surveys were conducted, taking in the entire surviving area of the Roman fort (except for the modern parish churchyard), along with its annexe and part of the temporary camp to the W. The defences showed clearly over most of their course, with the 'parrot beak' style gates, but the impression of a triple ditch, gained in the past from the air, seems to have been caused by the rampart showing as a third linear cropmark in aerial views. The magnetic survey showed what are probably lines of pits in the interior, which may represent the postholes of barrack blocks. The supposed annexe showed clearly, but there were some signs in the magnetic data that its broad, single ditch might cross those of the fort, which may or may not suggest that the two are not contemporary.

Large areas of rig and furrow were detected by the resistance survey, both inside and outside the fort, as well as a number of ring features, which seem likely to represent roundhouses. The magnetic survey found faint signs of a linear feature crossing the fort interior diagonally. At least two possible posthole founded structures stood at right angles to this, and so may represent contemporary rectangular timber buildings beside a track, which does not relate to the Roman occupation.

Archive: The Roman Gask Project

Funder: The Roman Gask Project

DJ Woolliscroft, The Roman Gask Project

B Hoffmann,



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