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Beattock, Barnhill

Temporary Camp (Roman)

Site Name Beattock, Barnhill

Classification Temporary Camp (Roman)

Alternative Name(s) Barnhill, Beattock 2

Canmore ID 48408

Site Number NT00SE 45

NGR NT 08470 02640

NGR Description Centred NT 0845 0261

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Kirkpatrick-juxta
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire

Archaeology Notes

NT00SE 45 centred 08470 02640

See also NT00SE 20.

For Medieval pottery and possible bank excavated within the area of the camp (at NT 083 026), see NT00SE 140.

The relationship of two Roman sites recorded on aerial photographs was investigated. One (NT00SE 44) was a small enclosure c. 30m square, probably a Roman fortlet; the other, a marching-camp of c. 11ha (27 acres); situated on the left bank of the Evan Water, immediately to the W of the Roman road RR 7f. Trial excavation showed that the presumed fortlet was earlier, its ditch having been cut away by the NE angle of the camp. It was not possible to form an estimate of the interval separating the periods of use of the two structures.

G S Maxwell 1984; S S Frere 1985.


Note (1997)

NT 085 025 NT00SE 45

Listed as temporary camp.

RCAHMS 1997.

Publication Account (17 December 2011)

On the gravel terrace at Beattock, about 1km to the north of the fort at Milton, lie some five temporary camps, on either side of the Evan Water, close to its confluence with the River Annan.

Beattock Bankend, the single camp currently known on the south side of the Water, was first discovered in 1977 by RCA HMS from the air (Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 30–1). At least 444m of the south-west side has been recorded as a cropmark, together with a rounded corner angle and 368m of the north-west side. The area enclosed by the camp is unclear – it lies on the southwest side of the Evan Water, which has clearly moved course over time, evidenced by cropmarks of numerous palaeo-channels. Both sides possess Stracathro-type gates; that in the north-west side lies less than 100m from the present course of the Water (but 330m from the known corner of the camp), and therefore the camp must have extended into the area now on the other (Barnhill) side of the river. If the gate on the south-west side is in the centre of that side, then the camp would have measured some 580m by at least 370m, enclosing at least 21.5ha (53acres) and quite possibly closer to 26ha (64 acres).

Excavations revealed that the ditch was up to 2m wide and 0.9m deep (Leslie 1995: 154; Speller and Leslie 1995: 19–20). One field oven and the probable remains of two more were located in a trench placed obliquely across the camp in advance of the upgrading of the A74. In addition, the excavators suggested, on the basis of the silting, that the camp perimeter was left open for a period of time before the rampart was pushed into the ditch. There was no evidence for any reuse of the ditch (Speller and Leslie 1995: 26). Leslie has suggested that this camp may be a construction camp for the nearby fort at Milton (1995: 150–2; Speller and Leslie 1995: 26–7), but this seems unlikely given the distance between the two and the fact that there is a camp just outside that fort (Milton I).

On the north side of the Evan Water lie a further four camps at Beattock Barnhill. Camp I, on the west, was first recorded through cropmarks in 1957 by St Joseph from the air (1958: 89). The camp measures 363m from north-west to south-east by about 304m transversely. Although the west side of the camp has been eroded by the movement of the Evan Water, the south corner is visible, giving us an indication of the likely position of this side. The camp enclosed about 11.7ha (almost 29 acres). A titulus is recorded in the ENE side, at a change of alignment just south of the centre. At its northern corner the camp overlies a putative fortlet. Maxwell undertook a trial excavation to establish the relationship between the two structures and demonstrated that the camp was the later of the two (Frere 1985a: 267; Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 31, 40).

East of camp I lie camps II, III and IV, which represent successive uses of the same location with the perimeters adjusted to suit the size of the force camped within. First photographed in 1945 by St Joseph from the air (1951:58), the camps are recorded as cropmarks with a field boundary running along their northern edge. Camp II measures 436m from WSW to ENE by at least 307m, but the south side of the camp is unknown, owing to erosion and movement of the Evan Water. Tituli are visible on the NNW and ENE sides, with a further two visible on the WSW side (although it is likely that northern titulus on this side relates to the occupation of camp IV). If the southern of the two tituli on the WSW side and the corresponding titulus on the ENE side are in the centre of those sides, then the camp would measure c 350m by 436m and enclose some 15.4ha (38 acres).

Excavations in 1992 on the north side of the camp recorded that the ditch was up to 2m wide and 0.8m deep with a U-shaped profile. Traces of rampart material were also noted (Neighbour et al 1994: 10–11). The camp has been reduced twice, but the small-scale excavations on the north side did not record any evidence for a recut of the ditch (Neighbour et al 1994).

Camp III represents a reduction of camp II by the construction of an additional defensive ditch (and presumably also rampart) some 115m from the WSW side of that camp. As with camp II, its southern extent is unknown. The camp measured 321m from WSW to ENE by at least 307m transversely, enclosing at least 10.2ha (25acres) and possibly 11.4ha (28 acres). (This assumes that the area enclosed by this camp was the larger area to the east, not the narrow rectangular area to the west, which would therefore represent an enclosed area of some 3.7ha (9 acres). A further use of the west rectangle is recorded(camp IV).) No additional gates of the camp are known, but it may have utilised the same entrances as those currently known on the NNW and ENE sides of camp II.

Camp IV is a reduction of camps II and III by the construction of an additional ditch (and presumably rampart) further reducing the area between the WSW sides of camps II and III. The area enclosed is almost square, measuring 124m from NN W to SSE by 118m, enclosing 1.4ha (3.6 acres). A titulus is visible in the centre of the WSW side but there is no corresponding break in the perimeter ditch. It is presumed that the earlier camp ditch was deliberately filled in at the entrance point, but possibly with similar material to that which later filled the rest of the ditch, thereby leaving the causeway undetectable in the cropmark record.

A study of the environmental history, fluvial deposits and river movement of the Evan Water concluded that the Stracathro-type camp at Beattock Bankend was earlier than its neighbours across the water at Beattock Barnhill. This was because the eastern Barnhill camps (II –IV) were constructed across gravel deposits and palaeo-channels that can only have been formed after the Bankend site was constructed (Tipping 1997: 25). Beattock Bankend is probably Flavian in date (see Chapter 10), and the fortlet underneath Beattock Barnhill I has also been proposed as dating to the 1st century ad (Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 21), thereby implying that Beattock Barnhill I was Antonine or later. A sequence can therefore be identified at this complex, with Beattock Bankend representing a Flavian occupation of the area and quite probably all four at Beattock Barnhill relating to campaigns in the Antonine and later periods. Their location a short distance from the fort at Milton, which demonstrated occupation in the Flavian and Antonine periods (Clarke 1951), suggests that non-proximity of camp and fort sites need not necessarily be an indicator of non-contemporaneity.

R H Jones 2011


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