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Kair House

Temporary Camp (Roman)

Site Name Kair House

Classification Temporary Camp (Roman)

Canmore ID 36383

Site Number NO77NE 1

NGR NO 767 767

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Arbuthnott
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Kincardine And Deeside
  • Former County Kincardineshire

Archaeology Notes

NO77NE 1 767 767.

(NO 7671 7656 ROMAN CAMP (R) (site of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1974)

Almost all of the perimeter of this Roman camp, discovered in 1945, is visible on aerial photographs. The NE side, nearly 2,000ft long, has had a central gate and, immediately E of it, a length of about 120ft of the rampart and ditch can still be seen in the wood. The corresponding S gate has also been traced.

J K St Joseph 1951; 1958; 1965.

Roman camp as described above. Only 120ft of the rampart is visible on the ground.

Surveyed at 1:2500 from ground observation and aerial photographs.

Visited by OS (R L) 13 December 1967.

Roman camp, Kair House: Cropmarks reveal a temporary camp, possibly the most northerly of the series associated with the Severan campaigns (c. AD 208-11), straddling the summit of a prominent hill above the left bank of the Bervie Water opposite Fordoun. A rough parallelogram on plan, it measures some 870m by 600m and encloses an area of about 52ha within which both Kair House and Mains of Kair farmsteading now stand. The only gates to be definitely identified are those NNE and SSW sides, each guarded by a titulum; to the NE of Mains of Kair the the rampart appears to survive as a slight earthwork.

RCAHMS 1982.

NO 769 766 Kair House Farm includes a large 48ha (120 acre) Roman marching camp of the Severan period. A watching brief was carried out in November 2003 on the insertion of a new electricity pole and other equipment to supply power to the old coach house. Extensive trenches were dug, but no artefacts or features were found.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Scottish and Southern Electricity.

D Bowler 2003

NO 767 767 An archaeological watching brief was carried out between 31st August and 5th September 2006, by Murray Archaeological Services, during the creation of a horse riding sand school, stables and a garage at Kair House, Fordoun. The soil strip over the entire area produced no evidence for archaeological features or finds.

Sponsor: Mr and Mrs Fletcher.

J C Murray 2006.


Watching Brief (April 2004)

NO 7688 7651 (centre) Kair House is located within the perimeter of a 120 acre Roman marching camp, believed to be of Severan date. An underground electricity cable was to be installed to run from Kair House across a field to the N, on a SSW-NNE alignment. A watching brief in April 2004 located a large cut feature 35m NNE of Kair House, apparently containing within it the tumbled remains of an earth bank with a drystone facing. A trench was excavated into these features and exposed what appeared to be a ditch, 4.5m across and 1.45m deep, with a U-shaped profile, partially backfilled with random whinstone rubble. No artefacts were recovered, but soil samples were taken.

The location of the ditch within the camp perimeter tends against regarding it as a part of the Roman defences, and it was thought more likely that this represented a ha-ha associated with Kair House. However, radiocarbon dating of a sample taken from the primary fill of the ditch suggests a calibrated date of AD 1250 (95.4% probability). The possibility of a previously unknown medieval structure having existed on the site, perhaps a moated house, must therefore be given serious consideration.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Scottish & Southern Energy plc.

C Fyles 2004

Publication Account (17 December 2011)

The camp at Kair House in the Howe of the Mearns was first recorded from the air by St Joseph in 1945 (St Joseph 1951a: 65), although the area had been noted as a potential site for the Roman army by Roy (1793: 86–7). Subsequent aerial survey has recorded most of all four sides as cropmarks. The camp lies along the south-west part of a small hill above the Bervie Water, some 15km from the coast at Inverbervie. It is also located almost midway between the large camps of Raedykes and Balmakewan.

The camp measures around 870m from north-east to south-west by about 600m transversely, enclosing an area of some 53.5ha (132 acres). A titulus is clearly visible in the centre of the south-west side, and a possible titulus in the north-east side, just to the west of the road. Given the size of the camp, it is assumed that it probably had six gates. Most of the camp lies in arable fields, but a small stretch of upstanding rampart survives on the north-east side: 18m survives in a small grass field and a further 11m in a conifer plantation; any accompanying ditch could not be traced. The rampart is spread about 3.7m wide and measures 0.3m high in the plantation, and is 5.4m wide and up to 1.1m high in the grass, although it is increasingly disturbed and reduced as it approaches the road.

R H Jones.


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