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St Leonard's Hill

Temporary Camp (Roman)

Site Name St Leonard's Hill

Classification Temporary Camp (Roman)

Canmore ID 55839

Site Number NT54NW 14

NGR NT 54855 45500

NGR Description Centred NT 54855 45500

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/55839

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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Melrose
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT54NW 14 Centred on NT 54855 45500

(Name: NT 5470 4552) Roman Camp (R) (site of)

OS 6" map (1968)

Air photography over a period of eighteen years has revealed the whole of a Roman temporary camp. which measures axially 3,120ft NW-SE by 2,300ft transversely, covering 165 acres in area. It lies astride a spur, St Leonard's Hill, and is bounded on the N and NW by the Milsie Burn and on the E and NE by the Leader Water. It was intended to have been rectangular, but has been considerably distorted when being laid out across the ridge. It has six gates with tutuli.

J K St Joseph 1958; 1961; 1965; RCAHMS 1956, visited 1952

When visited in 1962, there was no trace of the camp to be seen on the ground.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 1 October 1962

Severan.

J K St Joseph 1969

Photographed by the RCAHMS in 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

NT 550 455 (centre) Resistivity and gradiometer survey were carried out in two blocks over the ditches of two intersecting cropmark sites. The total survey area was c 2.4ha. Gradiometry revealed some small, high magnetic anomalies which may be the remains of Roman field ovens or latrines. Otherwise, the survey revealed little that was not already known from the particularly clear cropmark record of the putative cursus (NT54NE 30) and Roman temporary camp (NT54NW 14).

A report has been lodged with the NMRS and Scottish Borders SMR.

Sponsor: Miller Homes Ltd.

T Neighbour 2000

NT 551 457 A trial trenching evaluation was conducted in December 2001 on the site of a proposed housing development. The aim was to investigate two aerial photograph sites: the E ditch of a Roman temporary camp (NT54NW 14) and what had been recorded as a possible Neolithic cursus (NT54NE 29). The alleged cursus is visible on the aerial photographs as a cropmark 100m long by 50m wide in a field to the N of a farm track. No trace of the feature is visible on the aerial photographs to the S of the track.

The evaluation located the alignment of the E side of the Roman temporary camp ditch in three trenches, as a band of grey clay and a stony mid-brown clay. This feature was not excavated.

Two ditches were detected in the field to the N of the farm access track on the alignment of the alleged cursus. The E ditch was found by excavation to be 1.4m wide by 0.45m deep, V-shaped in profile, steeper on the western face. The W ditch was a broad V-shape in profile, 1.4m wide by 0.45m deep, with a rounded base. The cut appeared less regular in this W section, perhaps as a result of greater erosion. No finds were recovered from either ditch. In the field to the S of the track no trace was found of the continuation of either ditch in either of the two trenches positioned to detect its alignment. The ditched enclosure clearly does not extend to the S of the farm access track and is therefore unlikely to be a Neolithic cursus.

Report deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Beebe Planning for Miller Homes Ltd.

G Mudie 2002

Activities

Publication Account (17 December 2011)

This camp encloses the gently undulating ground of St Leonards Hill, above the Leader Water, on the line of Dere Street. It was first recorded as a cropmark from the air by St Joseph in 1948 (1951a: 57) and is slightly irregular in form, measuring around 1000m from north-west to southeast by about 738m. It enclosed 70ha (173 acres), making it the largest camp so far recorded in the Roman Empire. The need to enclose such a large area of ground with its concomitant topographic constraints led to the shape of the camp, which was wider at the north-west end (which measured 747m) than the south-east (624m). There is a change of alignment towards the north-west end at the northern gates on both the north-east (illus 196) and southwest sides; it also bows out slightly at the south-east gate. Tituli are recorded at five of these gates (only an entrance gap is so far known in the north-west side).

The camp intersects a possible prehistoric settlement on its north-east side and a further enclosure which has been claimed as a Neolithic cursus, although this is now regarded as unlikely (Mudie 2002: 101 – illus 196). Geophysical survey on this side of the camp recorded some ‘small, high magnetic anomalies which may be the remains of Roman field ovens or latrines’ (Neighbour 2000); a subsequent evaluation recorded the line of the ditch on this side but it was not excavated (Mudie 2002: 101).

R H Jones.

Sbc Note

Visibility: This site is visible as a cropmark.

Information from Scottish Borders Council

References

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