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Temporary Camp (Roman)

Site Name Channelkirk

Classification Temporary Camp (Roman)

Canmore ID 54587

Site Number NT45SE 2

NGR NT 475 546

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Channelkirk
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT45SE 2 475 546.

(Name: NT 4735 5482) ROMAN CAMP (R) (site of)

OS 6" map (1970)

This Roman temporary camp was surveyed by Roy and considered by him to have originally measured some 600 by 420 yds and to have accommodated at least 10,500 men. By 1900, only some 170 yds of the N side of the camp could be traced and the W side was hardly traceable, though a wall had recently been built along its top. The entrance however, was still traceable and 23ft in width; its associated tutulus had disappeared.

A section was cut into the N side of the camp 'where the ditch is deepest and the wall-mound highest' in 1897. This revealed nothing apart from the normal soil, clearly indicating the temporary nature of the camp. The camp was surveyed by Craw when the rampart was traceable from A to B on his plan, though it was much obliterated at its N apex by the old road. He excavated the W gateway in 1921, cutting the U-shaped section of the tutulus ditch, which was over 3ft deep, 64ft from the W rampart (overlaid by the modern field dyke. The tutulus was 69ft long. In 1922, he excavated at 'A' and found a trench 12ft wide and 2ft 4ins deep, but was uncertain whether it was part of the camp or of the Roman road (RR 8g).

Between 1953 and 1960, Dr St Joseph has re-discovered the position of all the ramparts of this camp from the air, identifying another gate, with a tutulus, in the NE side. Excavation in 1956 showed the ditch to be rock-cut, V-shaped, and nearly 4ft deep.

W Roy 1793; A Allan 1900; J H Craw 1930; J K St Joseph 1955; 1957; 1958; 1961

The line of the W side of the camp, in the form of a stony scarp, the NW angle, and a short stretch of the N side (again in the form of a scarp) are the only indications of this Roman camp.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (EGC) 12 January 1964

The entire area of this camp is under plough and no ground surface remains can be seen, apart from traces of the W side, surviving under the modern field dyke.

Visited by OS (BS) 16 April 1975

This camp covers 66 ha (165 acres) and therefore presumably dates the the Severan campaigns. The line of the W rampart and a short length of the N side indistinctly survive as a stony scarp beneath the field wall.

D J Breeze 1979; J K St Joseph 1969

See also NT45SE 5 which notes evidence of the camp in the area of the Church in the early 19th Century. This was originally dismissed but has now been proved by aerial photographs.

Information from C A Appleby March 1988.


Field Visit (17 October 1908)

26. Defensive Enclosure, Glengelt.

About ½ mile north-west of the parish church, at the upper side of Glengelt farm and some 250 yards back from the Haughy Burn, are the remains of the so-called ‘Roman Camp’ of Channelkirk, planned and described by General Roy. The indefinite remains of a rampart with stones protruding from the surface along its course may be seen running north-west for a short distance, and thereafter passing beneath the Kirkton hill march dyke, continuing parallel with the burn in a south-south-westerly direction.

See History of Channelkirk, p. 642; Roy, p. 61, pl. vi.

RCAHMS 1915, visited 17 October 1908.

OS Map: Ber., xiii. NW.

Publication Account (17 December 2011)

The large Roman camp at Channelkirk was spotted by Sir John Clerk in 1724 (Keppie pers comm; in prep), and later also recorded by General Melville (1755) and subsequently planned by Roy in 1769 (Roy 1793: 61, Pl. VI; Macdonald 1917: 178–9). Further information was also provided by Chalmers (1807: i, 142). It lies on the line of Dere Street, with the fortlet and camps of Oxton a short distance to the east. Stretches of the camp’s perimeter still survive as an earthwork, with a section of the western side surviving under a modern stone dyke. Parts of three sides have now been recorded as earthworks and cropmarks, suggesting that the camp was large but irregular in form. Its northeast side measures around 1058m and some 512m of its transverse dimension is known. Roy recorded that an additional line of earthwork connected the camp to a ‘small post, or redoubt’, now interpreted as an Iron Age fort, to the south on an extremely irregular route (1793: 61, Pl. VI). This line was excavated by Hewat-Craw, who noted that it ran in a straight line as shown by Roy, parallel to a plantation (1930: 324). However, he failed to give any dimensions that would confirm this feature as Roman, although he interpreted an earthwork across the fort as representing the Roman rampart constructed across the fort before turning to the east (1930: 324–5). There is no further information to support or deny this claim. The discovery of the east corner and a short stretch of the south-east side at Channelkirk Church confirmed the claim by Chalmers that the camp was now occupied by the ‘church, churchyard and minister’s glebe’ (1807: i, 142). It also emphasised the large size of the camp, which enclosed at least 47ha (117 acres), probably at least 55ha (136 acres) and is generally regarded to be closer to 66ha (165 acres), owing to its location and similarity with other camps on Dere Street (St Joseph 1969, 118; see also Chapter 9).

Entrances protected by tituli are visible on the WNW and NNE sides of the camp. That on the WNW side was excavated in 1921 by Hewat-Craw, and its ditch was just under 1m deep (1930: 324). Excavations on the south-east side of the camp near the church revealed a ditch which measured some 2.6m wide and 1.4m deep (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 2). Other excavations on the north-east side in 1897 gave no dimensions (Allan 1900: 645). St Joseph reported excavating a line of cropmarks where the ditch was cut in rock, but it is unclear exactly where his excavations took place (St Joseph 1957: 13).

R H Jones

Sbc Note

Visibility: This site is visible as a cropmark.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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