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Mumrills

Roman Fort (Roman), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Site Name Mumrills

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

Canmore ID 47870

Site Number NS97NW 10

NGR NS 91850 79430

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/47870

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Falkirk
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Treasured Places (15 August 2007)

Mumrills is the largest Roman fort on the Antonine Wall, the 2nd century AD Roman frontier earthwork which was constructed across the Forth-Clyde isthmus. Inscribed stones found in the vicinity suggest that the fort was occupied on different occasions by both cavalry and infantry regiments, and further finds hint at a possibly earlier (1st century AD) Roman occupation of the site.

Information from RCAHMS (SC) 15 August 2007

Breeze, D J 2004

Archaeology Notes

NS97NW 10 91850 79430

(NS 9185 7943) Fort (R) (site of)

(NS 9199 7947) Kiln (R) (site of)

OS 6" map (1969)

No traces of the Roman fort at Mumrills can now be seen above the ground. Excavations in 1923-8, 1958 and 1960 established its outline, as shown on plan with a fortified annexe which housed an extensive civil settlement (vicus) to the W. The size of the fort suggests that it was originally built for a cavalry regiment, the Ala I Tungorum, though an infantry regiment, the Cohors II Thracum is also associated with the site. The fort has been altered in plan at least once and perhaps twice during the Antonine period. Macdonald believed that the site of the annexe had been previously occupied by a 6-acre temporary fort built by Agricola, but this was disproved by the 1958 excavations. If an Agricolan post ever existed at Mumrills, it is more likely to have lain beneath the Antonine fort.

A rectilinear enclosure E of the fort, visible on air photographs was proved to have been of Antonine date, by excavation in 1960. Due to erosion, its precise dimensions cannot be ascertained, but it measured approximately 140 feet E-W by at least 90 feet N-S, with an entrance in the centre of the N side. Traces of what may have been a Roman building were found very close to, if not actually within, this enclosure in 1937 (S Smith 1939).

An altar, now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), was also found here in 1937. A Roman kiln for making tiles or bricks was discovered in 1913 (G Macdonald and A O Curle 1929) about 100 yds NW of the enclosure, immediately behind the wall (K A Steer 1963).

An altar found in 1841 "near the Bridge at Brightons" about a mile SE of this fort, is in the NMAS, as is a tombstone found in the vicinity of the fort. The small finds, pottery, coins, etc from Macdonald's excavations are fully described by Macdonald (1929), while another

coin, a denarius of Faustina II, found during the demolition of houses on the N side of Grahamsdyke Street, is in Falkirk Museum (Accession no: D 432); it was submitted to Miss A S Robertson in 1958 by Miss D M Hunter, Dollar Park Museum, 10 October 1973.

Pottery and tiles have also been picked up at the site in 1972 and 1974.

A S Robertson 1973; RCAHMS 1963, visited 1958; E J Price and G J Price 1972; E J Price 1974

A coin of Hadrian, now in the NMAS, was found in the SE corner of the fort in c.1946, and another on Antoninus Pius found at the rear of 34 Polmont Rd in 1961 (see NS97NW 54).

A S Robertson 1974

NS 918 795. Further finds of pottery and flue tile in 1976 and 77.

DES 1976; 1977

Photographed by RCAHMS in 1976 and 1977.

Roman and other material found in the area of the fort is now with the NMAS. Found and donated by Mr E J Price.

NMAS Report 1978-9

As stated, there are no surface remains of either the fort or W annexe, the former lying mainly within an undulating arable field and the annexe area being entirely built over. Above AP's and 1979 RCAHMS AP's, as yet uncatalogued, show cropmarks of the fort, excavated enclosure (centred at NS 9206 7939) and amorphous linear marks of a possibly extensive civilian settlement in area NS 920 794.

Also visible is a probable eastern annexe to the fort, c.1/2 hectare in area, and bounded on the N side by the sharp turn of the Antonine Wall. Revised at 1:1250.

Annexe (eastern) surveyed at 1:1250.

Visited by OS (JRL) 26 April 1980

NS 916 794. In August 1982 a watching brief was carried out during the construction of a house in the back garden of 34 Polmont Road, Laurieston, in an area known to lie within the annexe west of Mumrills fort. Several areas of burning and a pit were noted at depths ranging from 6mm to 200mm. Samian ware and amphora fragments were found and are now in Falkirk Museum.

L J F Keppie and J J Walker 1990

NS 916 794. Fragments of three Roman jars, a beaker and two sherds of amphora were discovered in Sandy Loan Crescent in 1986.

L J F Keppie et al 1995

Excavations were made in a garden in the annexe, to the W of Mumrills fort, by G B Bailey. First-century pottery, an oven, a timber framed building and a metalled road running E-W were found.

L J F Keppie 1996

NS 9168 7941 Two seasons of excavations in a back garden of Sandyloan Crescent uncovered four phases of Roman activity in the area of the fort annexe at Mumrills. Building slots were cut through an agricultural soil in the first phase. These were later replaced, on the same alignment, by timber buildings using sill beams fronting onto a well-metalled road. Inside two of the buildings ovens were located. Another building, to the N, had substantial post-holes, 0.8m deep. In the third phase the road and the S building were cut perpendicularly by a sleeper wall. This in turn was overlain by a large area of cobbling.

Sponsor: Falkirk Local History Society.

G B Bailey 1996

NS 9182 7940. A large quantity of box flue tile was recovered during fieldwalking over the site of the commandant's house. Some pottery was also found. The finds are now in Falkirk Museum.

Sponsor: Falkirk Local History Society.

G B Bailey 1996.

Scheduled with NS97NW 29, NS97NW 45, NS97NW 46.00, NS97NW 46.10 as 'Antonine Wall, Mumrills fort, Sandy Loan to A905, Falkirk'.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 13 June 2001.

NS 918 794 As part of an ongoing fieldwalking exercise, members of the Falkirk Local History Society and the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society recovered a large amount of Roman pottery from the site of the fort. Collected in 10m squares.

G Bailey and F Hunter 2004

NS 9190 7940 The characteristic responses produced by the Antonine Ditch along other sections of the Wall are not present at Mumrills, where the feature is barely visible in both magnetic and resistance datasets. The reasons for this are uncertain but natural factors are likely to be responsible. By contrast, the Rampart has produced very distinct magnetic and resistance anomalies, suggestive of an (at least partially) intact base. Evidence for the Military Way is highly tentative and apparent only in the resistance data for two of the survey areas. Both survey techniques have produced generally well defined anomalies associated with the fort ditches and a formerly excavated building inside the fort; in both cases the magnetic results show the greater amount of detail.

C Stephens (Information from OASIS ID: gsbprosp1), 14 Dec 2007.

Activities

Excavation (1923 - 1928)

Reference (1974 - 1980)

No traces of the Roman fort at Mumrills can now be seen above the ground. Excavations in 1923-8, 1958 and 1960 established its outline, as shown on plan with a fortified annexe which housed an extensive civil settlement (vicus) to the W. The size of the fort suggests that it was originally built for a cavalry regiment, the Ala I Tungorum, though an infantry regiment, the Cohors II Thracum is also associated with the site. The fort has been altered in plan at least once and perhaps twice during the Antonine period. Macdonald believed that the site of the annexe had been previously occupied by a 6-acre temporary fort built by Agricola, but this was disproved by the 1958 excavations. If an Agricolan post ever existed at Mumrills, it is more likely to have lain beneath the Antonine fort.

A rectilinear enclosure E of the fort, visible on air photographs was proved to have been of Antonine date, by excavation in 1960. Due to erosion, its precise dimensions cannot be ascertained, but it measured approximately 140 feet E-W by at least 90 feet N-S, with an entrance in the centre of the N side. Traces of what may have been a Roman building were found very close to, if not actually within, this enclosure in 1937 (S Smith 1939).

An altar, now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), was also found here in 1937. A Roman kiln for making tiles or bricks was discovered in 1913 (G Macdonald and A O Curle 1929) about 100 yds NW of the enclosure, immediately behind the wall (K A Steer 1963).

An altar found in 1841 "near the Bridge at Brightons" about a mile SE of this fort, is in the NMAS, as is a tombstone found in the vicinity of the fort. The small finds, pottery, coins, etc from Macdonald's excavations are fully described by Macdonald (1929), while another

coin, a denarius of Faustina II, found during the demolition of houses on the N side of Grahamsdyke Street, is in Falkirk Museum (Accession no: D 432); it was submitted to Miss A S Robertson in 1958 by Miss D M Hunter, Dollar Park Museum, 10 October 1973.

Pottery and tiles have also been picked up at the site in 1972 and 1974.

A S Robertson 1973; RCAHMS 1963, visited 1958; E J Price and G J Price 1972; E J Price 1974

Aerial Photography (1977)

Aerial Photography (1979)

Field Visit (26 April 1980)

As stated, there are no surface remains of either the fort or W annexe, the former lying mainly within an undulating arable field and the annexe area being entirely built over. Above AP's and 1979 RCAHMS AP's, as yet uncatalogued, show cropmarks of the fort, excavated enclosure (centred at NS 9206 7939) and amorphous linear marks of a possibly extensive civilian settlement in area NS 920 794.

Also visible is a probable eastern annexe to the fort, c.1/2 hectare in area, and bounded on the N side by the sharp turn of the Antonine Wall. Revised at 1:1250.

Annexe (eastern) surveyed at 1:1250.

Visited by OS (JRL) 26 April 1980

Watching Brief (August 1982)

NS 916 794. In August 1982 a watching brief was carried out during the construction of a house in the back garden of 34 Polmont Road, Laurieston, in an area known to lie within the annexe west of Mumrills fort. Several areas of burning and a pit were noted at depths ranging from 6mm to 200mm. Samian ware and amphora fragments were found and are now in Falkirk Museum.

Aerial Photography (1983)

Aerial Photography (1984)

Aerial Photography (1985)

Aerial Photography (1986)

Aerial Photography (1992)

Excavation (1996)

NS 9168 7941 Two seasons of excavations in a back garden of Sandyloan Crescent uncovered four phases of Roman activity in the area of the fort annexe at Mumrills. Building slots were cut through an agricultural soil in the first phase. These were later replaced, on the same alignment, by timber buildings using sill beams fronting onto a well-metalled road. Inside two of the buildings ovens were located. Another building, to the N, had substantial post-holes, 0.8m deep. In the third phase the road and the S building were cut perpendicularly by a sleeper wall. This in turn was overlain by a large area of cobbling.

Field Walking (1996)

NS 9182 7940. A large quantity of box flue tile was recovered during fieldwalking over the site of the commandant's house. Some pottery was also found. The finds are now in Falkirk Museum.

Aerial Photography (5 February 1997)

Field Walking (2004)

NS 918 794 As part of an ongoing fieldwalking exercise, members of the Falkirk Local History Society and the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society recovered a large amount of Roman pottery from the site of the fort. Collected in 10m squares.

Resistivity (3 September 2007 - 14 December 2007)

NS 9190 7940 The characteristic responses produced by the Antonine Ditch along other sections of the Wall are not present at Mumrills, where the feature is barely visible in both magnetic and resistance datasets. The reasons for this are uncertain but natural factors are likely to be responsible. By contrast, the Rampart has produced very distinct magnetic and resistance anomalies, suggestive of an (at least partially) intact base. Evidence for the Military Way is highly tentative and apparent only in the resistance data for two of the survey areas. Both survey techniques have produced generally well defined anomalies associated with the fort ditches and a formerly excavated building inside the fort; in both cases the magnetic results show the greater amount of detail.

C Stephens (Information from OASIS ID: gsbprosp1), 14 Dec 2007.

Magnetometry (3 September 2007 - 14 December 2007)

NS 9190 7940 The characteristic responses produced by the Antonine Ditch along other sections of the Wall are not present at Mumrills, where the feature is barely visible in both magnetic and resistance datasets. The reasons for this are uncertain but natural factors are likely to be responsible. By contrast, the Rampart has produced very distinct magnetic and resistance anomalies, suggestive of an (at least partially) intact base. Evidence for the Military Way is highly tentative and apparent only in the resistance data for two of the survey areas. Both survey techniques have produced generally well defined anomalies associated with the fort ditches and a formerly excavated building inside the fort; in both cases the magnetic results show the greater amount of detail.

C Stephens (Information from OASIS ID: gsbprosp1), 14 Dec 2007.

Excavation (April 2010)

NS 9180 7936 Excavation in April 2010 in advance of house extensions revealed the S rampart of the Roman fort. It consisted of dressed stone kerbs with a rubble and clay infill. Its position indicated that the S gate of the fort lies farther E than on published plans. Part of the gravelled intervallum road was also uncovered at a point where a road led off at right angles. In the angles of the roads a centurion’s quarters were represented by timber postholes and a hearth.

Funder: S James

Geoff Bailey – Falkirk Museum

Field Walking (2011)

NS 918 794 A day of fieldwalking undertaken in 2011 recovered Roman pottery and part of a shale box. Plotting of the material confirmed the previous general trends in distribution.

Archive: Falkirk Museum

Funder: Falkirk Local History Society and EAFS

Falkirk Community Trust, 2011

Field Walking (6 March 2016)

NS 9184 7941 The site of the Roman fort was fieldwalked on 6 March 2016 after ploughing, and a range of Roman pottery was recovered.

Archive: Falkirk Museum

Funder: Falkirk Community Trust, FLHS and EAFS

Geoff Bailey – Falkirk Local History Society and Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

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