This is a copy of some parts of William Roy's Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain

Note: this is a first draft which has not been checked.

During the execution of a public work that was carried on in the space of nine years, from 1747 to 1755, the most favourable opportunities offered for acquiring a thorough knowledge of North Britain, with regard, at least, to the relative situation of places, and the nature of the country in general. And though at that early period, the study of Antiquity was but little the object of the young people employed in that service, yet it was not whollty neglected; many sketches of Roman works having been made in the ordinary course of the other observations. These however, were, as usual of the stationary kind only; whose vestiges, as formerly mentioned, being always conspicuous enough, and often exceedingly entire, could not miss to strike the eye of the most transient passenger. not having as yet sufficiently attended to the description of the camp of a great Roman army, as give by Polybius, the author had but imperfect notion of its figure and dimensions; neither did it occur to him that, at the distance of so many ages, the remains of works so very temporary in their nature might be found to exist; much less could he imagine, from the number of such gestiges being discovered in succession to each other, at proper distances, that the daily marches of the Romany army might thereby be traced.

The situation of mons grampius, and therefore of the field of battle between Agricola and Galgacus, had all along been a point about which antiquaries, from Camden downwards, differed exceeding in opinion; some supposing it in Mearns, others in Angus, others again at Ardock, in Strathallan; while Gordon and Horsley, who are the latest writers on the subject, fix the spot to Dealgin-Ross, in the head of Strathern. It is true, the last of the gentlemen seems not to have examined into the point in question, nor to have allowed his own reason and judgement to direct him; adopting, in this instance, the opinion of Gordon, who wrote some few years before him.

That the principles of war are fixed and general, varying only with local circumstances and situation of the country, we doubt not will be admitted: whence it follows, that some knowledge of modern military operations seems necessary, to enable us to trace with success the motiions of a Roman army; and whoever hath been accustomed to observe the one with moth attention, will, in all likelyhood, not only find it easist to trace the other, but, at the same time, will perceive a very great resemblance in the leading principle upon which they respectively acted. With regard, then, to military antiquities, it seems to have been a misfortune, that few of the commentators who have treated on this subject, however well qualified in other respects, have been military men.

It was by comparing the relation which Tacituc hath given of Agicola's last campaing, with the face of the country, that a very intelligent and ingenious officer* was led to judge, from the reasons of war, that the battle between the Romans and Caledoninas, at the Gampian mountains, instead of happening in Strathern, must have been fought towards the eastern extremity of that lofty range, where the country becomes narrow, but its near approach to the sea. With the view of endeavouring to ascertain this point, in 1754 he purposely made a tour into Strathmore, + and was lucky enough to discover four camps in that district, which, from their situation, there was every reason to suppose were part of those actually occupied by Agicola's army, in the last year of the war. Some time after this he likewise found the remains of another, resembling these, bear Channelkirk, in the south of Scotland. Had not this gentleman been soon after called to more important employments, which necessarily occaisioned his being long absent from Britain, he probably would have had opportunities of prosecuting his own discoveries, which would have rendered any attempt of this sort unnecessary; he being much better qualified to treat the subject as it deserves.

The discovery of the camps in Strathmore having, however, been communicated to the author, he thereby found his ideas enlarged. Knowing now what a temporary Roman camp really was, he therefore (during the completion of the public business formerly alluded to, in the following summer, 1755), employed some time in augmenting his collection, by taking exact plans of those that had been newly discovered; at the same time that a survey was made of the wall of Antoninus, and more accurate drawings of such stations as formerly had been only slightly sketched. On comparing the plans of most of these works, as given by Gordon, in the Itinerarium Septentrionale, and by Horsley, in the Britannia Romana, there seemed to be but too much room for improvement; as will evidently appear to those who may have opportunities, or who may choose to give themselves the trouble of repeating the comparison upon the spots.

In the course of this summer's observations more of the temporary camps were discovered, adjoining the station at Ardoch in Strathallan, similar in all respects to those found the preceding year in Strathmore. This seemed to demonstrate that the same army had been, at different times, in the respective situations, and that they were equally the camps of Agricola; since it had ever been allowed by all, that thus far, at least, the Roman general had advanced into Caledonia. That these should ahave hitherto remained unnoticed, was the more extraordinary; because this station,* being one of the most remarkable, as well as the entirest of its kind, had therefore been often visited by the curious. Such then was the progress made in the search after the Roman camps, when late war commenced; during the course of which the author's attention was necessarily called to the observance of the actual manoeuvres of modern armies. instead of endeavouring to investigate those of the ancients.

For the space of eight years, from 1755 to 1764, no opportunity offered of resuming the inquiry into this branch of antiquity which was now in a great degree forgotten, and probably would never have been more thought of, had it not been for the accidental discovery of a camp in the south-west of Scotland. that so far revived it as to lead to a farther search, which produced discoveries of more works of the same kind, as will be mentioned hereafter. Hitherto it had been generally supposed, that Agricola led his army into Scotland by the Western communication, along Annandale and Clydesdale, towards the istmus between the Forth an Clyde. As yet, however, no camps had been found on this route, excepting those at Birrenswork-hill, in Annandale; which, differing both in dimensions and in construction, from the other temporary works lately discovered, seemed to make it very doubtful, whether they were occupied by any part of the same army. On the other hand, from the vestiges of the camp at Channel-kirk there was every reason to believe, that either in entering into, or returning from Scotland, some part of Agicola's army had followed the eastern communication.

But in the autumn of 1764, a camp of the true kind being very accidentally found at Cleghorn in Clydesdale, this occaisioned farther search to be made towards the south; and accordingly one exactly similar to it, was soon after discovered at Lockerby* in Annandale. These two camps being of the smaller dimensions, seemed to put it beyond a doubt that one division, at least, of Agricola's army, or of some other that used a form of castrametation agreeing perfectly with his, had marched by this road.

From this suite of camps now discovered, such a number of points were ascertained as sufficiently indicate the general route of routes by which the Roman army advanced from the northern counties of England, as far as Strathmore in Scotland. but as in penetrating from Strathearn into this last mentioned part of the country, they were under the necessity of crossing the great river Tay, it naturally occurred, that at the passage of this remarkable river, either on its wester or eastern bank, the army would hprobably encamp; and that the vestiges of their intrenchements might possibly be found to exist. Accordingly, propoer search being made, in 1771, the remains of this camp were discovered on the east bank of the Tay, at a place called Grassy-walls, about three miles north of Perth. Even the partial existence of this work gave great pleasure, and was considered as exceedingly fortunate, not only from its being found where it was absolutely sought for, but likewise because, though greatly defaced, yet enough remained to shew that Agricola's whole army had been united at the passage of the Tay, whence it formed an essential link in the chain, by means of which, the camps to the east and west of that river, were in some degree connected.

Though the first discovery of these temporary camps afforded that sort of entertainment, which always flows from the observance of countries that have been the scenes of military operations, and which consequently induces offices to prosecute such inquiries, step by step, in the manner just now shewn; yet nothing had hitherto been committed to writing on the subject, excepting some few cursory remarks, at the bottoms of the sketches made of the several works. Nevertherless, so many camps having now been found in succession to each other, two points naturally suggested themselves, concerning which antinquaries differed exceedingly in opinion, that might by this means be cleared up, namely the ancient system of castramentation of the Romans, and the march of Agricola into Caledonia. It was to the illustration of these alone, as being things not wholly unworthy of attention, that the author's design was originally confied, and accordingly comprised in two short essays on these subjects.

From small beginning, it is, however, no unusual thing to be led imperceptibly to engage in the more extensive and labouriious undertakings, as will easly appear from what follows: for since the discovery of Agricola's camps the work of Richard of Cirencester having likewise been found out in Denmark, and published to the world, the curious have thereby been furnished with many new lights concerning the Roman history and geography of Britain in general, but more particularly the north part of it; which, from the dificiency of materials, was hitherto not near so well ascertained as that of South Britain, whereof the Romans had a long and undistubted possession. The knowledge which the author had acquired of the north part of the island, and the many plans he had collected of the remains of Roman works there, appearing to be things very essential in themselves toward any attempt that might be made to rectify the ancient geography of these parts, were the reasons which induced him to hope he might contribute in some respect to its improvement. With views, then, of this sort, it became not only necessary to extend farther the original plan, but likewise to change, in a certain degree, the arrangement of the several subject proposed to be treated on.

At first nothing historical was intended, excepting the transaction of that short, but interesting period, comoprehending Agricola's campaigns. In order, however, to render the workd less defective that otherwise it must have been, and that the mind might keep pace with the progress of the Romans in extending their conquests northward, and thus be gradually led to the chief thing proposed, there seemed to be propriety in giving a concise account of their affairs here, from the first invasion of Julius Caesar, to the time when Agricola took command. This, of course, forms the first historical period; the second comprehends Agricola's campaigns only, as extracted from Tacitus; and the third, from hist recall by Domitian, to the final dereliction of the island by the Romans, was judged equally necessary, to shew that it was probably in great measure owing to the short and precarioius possession they had of North Britain, and to the almost continual wars they were engaged in with the natives, that the ancient geography of this part of the island is not so well ascertains as that of South Brtain, which they had completely conquered, and whereof they enjoyed an uninterrupted possession, during a series of many years. This abridged history is comprised in the first book: as nothing new is offered in it, therefore the authors from whom it is borrowed are not mentioned on every occaision; which will easily appear, without always quoting them. With regard to the points of chronology, they are in general taken from Horsley, who seems to have deduced them with sufficient accuracy.

*Captain Melvill, the of the twenty-fifth regiment, since governor of Grenada, and Lieutenant-general.

+A circumstantial narrative of this discoverey, furnished by lieutenant-general Robert Melville, from his recollections, is to be found in the third volume, page 414, of the new and enlarge edition of Camden's Britannia, published in London, in 1789 ....

Book 3 Chapter III

A commentary of the Campaigns of Julius Agricola in Britain; wherein his principal movements are attempted to be traced, from the remaining Vestiges of his Camps.

In the historical part of these essays, a short account hath been given of the military operations of Julius Agricola in Britain, extracted from the faithful and elegan relation of them which Tacitus hath transmitted to us. The subsequent points having likewise been severally treated of in their order, we come now to one of the principle things proposed, namely, of tracing the motions of the Roman general, from the remains of his camps described in the last chapter.

It is true, these vestiges have hitherto only been discovered in Scotland; whereas North Wales, and the northern counties of England, were undoubtedly the theatre of war for ht two first campaigns of Agricola. Perhaps, when the real figure and the dimensino fo these temporary works are thorough understood, other such may be discovered, particularly in the uncultivated places of North Wales, which may serve to indicate his march on the expedition toward Anglesey. Two or three of these would sufficiently ascertain the route he followed; though it is not to be expected, that either here, or any where else, vestiges of intrenchements are always to be found in the situations where the Roman army encamped; and were it not for those already discovered in North Britain, which are indisputably the works of Agricola, any search for remains of so very temporary a nature, at the distance of near seventeen centuries, would appear perfectly ridiculous. In treating, therefore, on this subject, when vestiges fail us, which indeed they do too often, either from their being wholly obliterated, or that the faint traces of them have not yet been discovered, all we can recur to is probable conjecture, found on what seem to be the reasons of war, which are fixed and general, varying only with the local circumstances attending the nature and situation of the country.

When Julius Agricola arrived in Britain, the main body of the Roman army appears to have been quartered in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire, bordering on North Wales, which all agree was the country of the Ordovices. Against these he led his army, and having defeated them in battle, he advanced from thence into the isle of Anglesay, which he likewise subdued. After this first expedition, it is probable some part of the troops would winter in the newly-conquered coutnry, ther to build the necessary forts for overawing the inhabitants, while the remained might be pushed as far north as the frontiers of Derbyshire and Lancashire, in order to prepare for the further prosecution of the war.

On the opening of the second campaign, the army was again assebled, and advancing forward, crossed the several friths and salt marshes, reducing to the Roman obedience the different communities inhabiting the norther counties of England, as far as the isthmus between Newcastle and Carlisle. These people had hitherto asserted their independence; but having now submitted to the Romans, they suffered forts and garrisons to be established among them.

In the course of these two campaigns the Romans seem not to have met with any great resistance from the Britons; who, it is likely, perceived that the invaders had now obtained so firm footing in the country, that any farther struggle to expel them would be vain: perhaps they might even begin to relish the mild and equitable form of government of their conquerors; which, from the prudent management of Agricola, and the lenient measures he pursued, was every day becoming less burdensome and griveous.

The relation with Tacitus gives us, in this place, is conceived in very general and consies terms; few circumstances are mentioned which tend any way to point out the route which the army followed. Had the Roman historian accompanied his father-in-law in his British wars, he probably would have furnished us with many curious and interesting particulars, the want of which we have now much cause to regret.

In the first year, the army is supposed to have entered the isle of Anglesey near Beaumaris; *1 and the friths which it passed in the second could be no other than the Dee, Mersey, and Ribble, with the bays near the mouths of the rivers Lune and Ken, in the north part of Lancashire.

Some antiquarians are of the opinion, that Agricola penetrated, during the course of this second summer,, as far as the friths of Forth and Clyde. The words of Tacitus seem not, however, to allude to a farther progess that the norther counties of England. It would have been inconsistent with that discretion and foresight for which the Roman general was so remarkable, and with the caution which he constantly observed, of choosing the ground for the camp, and examining carefully himself all points that were critical and difficult, to have advanced, as it were, into a new country, till he had secured, by means of fortresses, that which he had already subdued. It is therefore probable, that part, at least of the stations on the istmus between newcastle and Carlisle, which in after times the Romans joined with a wall, were established by Agricola, while the army lay extrending in its winter quarters, along this narrow part of Britain. But besides this chain of forts, which Agricola would occupy between the two seas, it is likely he would push on advanced posts at some distance before it, in order the better to explore the country through which he proposed next year to march.

The stations at Risinghamd and Rochester, in Reedsdale, and also that at Chew-green near Gamwell's-path, on the border range of hills, might form the advanced posts towards the east, or right; that at Beaucastle might be one before the centre; while the post called Liddel-moat, the station at Netherby, and perhaps one where now Langtown church stands, on the banks of the Esk, might form the advanced posts toward the west, or before the left of the army.

Having offered such conjectures as seemed most reasonable concerning the progress and position of the Roman army, at the close of the second campaign, we shall next proceed to trace Agricola's movements in North Britain, as far as the vestiges of his remaining camps afford any light; and here it may be necessary to observe, that the reference must be had, from time to time, to the descriptions of these works, exhibited in the last chapter.

It hath commonly been supposed that Agricola entered Scotland by the western route, through Annandale and Clydesdale; because of the much greater number of Roman works existing there, than on the eastern communication, leading toward the frith of Forth. If on either route a camp of the large kind had been discovered, that is to say, such as would have contained three legions, with their auxiliaries united, we should naturally have concluded that the whole army had certainly followed that route; but the camps hitherto found in this part of the country, namely, one at Channel Kirki, on the easter road, and two on the western, at Lockerny and Cleghorn (the vestiges of Tassiesholm being too slight to fix a third with certainty) are all of the small kind, none of them being capable of receiving above one-half of Agricola's army, even if we suppose it to have been weaker now, in advancing into Caledonia, than it afterwards was, when reinforced with those of the Britons, whom, from experience, the general could safely confide in. From this circumstances it follows, either that Agricol marched in two columns, one taking the east and the other the west road; or that at different times the same, or such another army as that of Agricola, had passed through this part of the country, in divisions which followed each other, the second occupying successively the camps the first had quitted. Of both suppositions, that of the march in two columns seems to be the most probable.

The Romans having established themselves on the banks of the Esk, and having likewise secured the principal pass leading across the Cheviot range of hills, would , from the station at Chew-green, and the post at Woden Low, a little way before it, not only command a very extrensive view over the plains of Tiviotdale, and on both sides the Tweed, but likewise over all the south-east of Scotland, as far as the sea on the righ, and the Lammermoor, and Soutra hills, directly before them. The Eildon hills could not fail to appear a very remarkable point in this prospect, and as such must strike them. In another part of his work we shall endeavour to prove, that the Trimontium of the Romans was situated there, and not in Annandale, as histerto supposed.

From the posts formerly mentioned on the banks of the Esk, one of which hath undoubtedly been the Roman castra exploratorum, they would see a great way into Annandale: and if they had already advanced as far as Birrenswork-hill, they would then discover Hartfield and the Lothers: being part of the great range of mountains, which beginning at the Cheviot, on the east, extends across the south of Scotland to Loch Ryan, at the mouth of thr frith of Clyde, on the west. From the banks of Solway frith, the Romans would see the south coast of Scotland, running a great way to the left: they would discover the country to be high and mountainous, and therefore by no means so proper for them to lead their army into as the low lands towards the east, which lay next to Gaul, from whence they came, and from which only they could receive such reinforcements as they might at any time have occaision for during the course of the war.

For these reasons it seems propbable, that Agricola would advance farthest with his right, take possessioin of the lowest parts of the country first, where he could best suppy his army, and meet with the least opposition from the enemy. Having explored the low lands along the tweed, and penetrated as far a Channel Kirk, or Soutra, he would from thence discover the lothians, and the frith of Forth running far into the land; he would see the low country of Fife, beyond the Forth; and evey descry the still more distant Grampian mountains, long before he could have any notion that there was such an inlet from the west sea as the frith of Clyde: for supposing that he had procured such previous knowledge of the country as might enable him to advance in two columns, one from his right, by the Eildon hills and Channel Kirk towards Cramond; and another from his left along Annandale, towards Clydesdale, which very probably he did; yet the left-hand column must have crossed the mountains, and, having got hold of the Clyde, must have followed the north, or north-west course of that river, as far as Biggar, or perhaps even below Lanark, before it was possible to know that the Clde fell into the west, and not into the east sea. But, on the other hand, if the camps found in the south of Scotland, on both routes, are camps of retour, and not those occupied by Agricola in advancing into the country, and if it should still be thought that he marched in one column, and not in two, it seems more probable that this column followed the eastern road, towards the frith of Forth, than that it pentrated the western route, across the mountains, into Clydesdale; for though this last was the best and shortest communication for the Romans, and probably that which they most commonly used after they had subdued and knew the country thoroughly, yet it does not seem to be the most proper one for their whole army to follow, while they were yet strangers to it, and obliged to force their way against the efforts of the natives to repel them. This conjecture seems to be farther confirmed from a circumstance mentioned by Tacitus; for, in describing the experidion of the fleet along the coast of Fife, at the beginning of the sixth campaign, he says, that they had all along made part of the forces; that is, they had co-operated with the land army in carrying on the way: therefore it is natural to suppose, that the army would keep nearest that shore which the fleet was cotoying, that they might mutually receive and lend each other assistance.

In the third year of the way Agricola, in pursuit of his conquests, seems to have met with little or no opposition from the natives, who durst not attack him, though his army suffered greatly from the severities of the climate. He is even said, during the course of this summer, to have explored the country as far as the mouth of the Tay. We are not, however, to suppose, that he had already established forts so far to the northward as that river; on the contrary, it is clear that he wintered on the isthmus between the Forth and Clyde; and that the next summer, being the fourth of his command, he was employed in fortifying it with a chain of stations, no doubt the same that Lollius Urbicus afterwards joined with a wall in the reign of Antononus Pius. As to the small works on the north side of the plain, which Gordon supposed to be the Praetentura of Agricola, they are trifling insignificant posts; it is very doubtful whether many of them are Roman or not; and, at any rate, they are situated on the wrong side of the valley for the sagacious general to occupy.

But though a part of the army was employed this fourth summer in securing the isthmus, yet it is probably that Agricola would push on advanced posts towards the nearest gorges of the Grampians, that lofty range of mountains which now presented itself before him. Perhaps the station at Ardoch might be established this year, also a small post at Calendar in Monteith: and it is likely that he would over-run all th evalley lying west from Stirling, as far as Loch-Lomond and Dumbarton.

From the relation which Tacitus gives of the fifth campaign, some are of the opinion that Agricola carried his army this summer into the south parts of Argyleshire; but those who know the extraordinary ruggedness of Cowal, Knapdale, and Cantyre, divided and intersected by so many different arms of the sea, will easily be convinced that this mountainous and inaccessible country is little calculated for the movements of a Roman army, and therefore could not have been the theatre of war for this campaign of Agricola: besides there are no remains of camps or stations, nor any other vestiges, which would seem to indicate that the Romans had ever been there; neither have we ever heard of any of their coins being found in this part of the country, though these alone would not be proof sufficient.

The frith here mentioned was undoubtedly the Clyde; for we have already seen that Agricolar, having the year before fortified the istmus, where he had now passed two winters and one summer, and having made himself master of the country west from Stirling, had by this time advanced as far to the left as Dumbarton. Leaving, therefore, sufficient garrison behind him, here he passed the Clyde with his army, and marching through Renfrew and Airshires into Galloway, he reduced to the Roman obedience that great and mountainous country, which, in passing Solway, we saw running so far to the westward, and which he was obliged to leave on his left, without knowing till now what nations it might contain, or how far it extended. And though Tacitus tells us that Gricola was induced to take this step more with regard to future views (alluding, probably, to the conquest of Ireland), than from any hostile attempts he had reason to apprehend from that quarter, yet it must have been contrary to the cautious and prudent system which he constantly adopted, to have engaged in military operations in the remoter parts of Britain, before he had made himself thoroughly acquainted with this corner of the island.


Remains of Roman works are to be met with in these parts; here coins have been found; and the plain vestiges of a Roman way (though hitherto seemingly unnoticed by antiquarians), leading from the neighbourhood of Lanark, by Blackwood, to the south of Stonehouse and Strathaven, toward the gorge of Loudon-hill, and so into Airshire, put the thing beyond a doubt. It is indeed true, that the road here mentioned was not probably made till after the expedition, as a communication which the Romans judged necessary, from this centrical part of Clydesdale, into the south-west of Scotland.

The sixth campaign was opened by an expedition along the coast of Fife, wherein the fleet and land forces are said to have co-operated; but as Agricola, so early as the third year of his command, had discovered the frith of Tay, he must now have known that Fife was a narrow country, confined between the river and the Forth, a cul-de-sac, in every respect improper for him to lead his whole army into, and that a movement of this sort could not essentially tend towards the total reduction of the island, which no doubt was the great and ultimate object he always had in view. If, nevertherless, this passage of the Roman historian is to be understood literally, it cannot at least be supposed that the whol army would advance father eastward than Loch Leven, or Falkland; and on this occaision the post at Loch Ore might possibly have been established. It however seems most likely, that a part only of the land forces accompanied the fleet on this expedition, and that the rest would take post at Stirling, or rather in the camp at Ardoch, where no doubt the whole were soon assembled.

The commodious situation of this camp hath been pointed out; and, from its extent, we have shewn that it was capable of containing the whole army which Agricolar had along with him, amounting to about twenty-six thousand men. Here, then, the army assembled after leaving Fife, in order to make head against the numerous bodies of Caledonians that were now rising in arms, with the intention of surrounding them; to prevent which, and to counteract, as far as circumstance would permit, the advantages which the enemy derived from their superior numbres, and knowledge of the country, Agricola, too,*2 separated his forces into three divisions, and in this manner took post. One of these, it is imagined, would remain in the small camp at Ardock, and this seems to have been the principal body, with which it is liekly the general himself would continue; another might probably be sent to the passage of the Ern, at Strageth, about five miles distant, where there are the distinct vestiges of a station, though the camp is now plouged down. The third, and the weakest division, consisting of the ninth legion, we have already endeavoured to shew was detached to Dealgin Ross, in the head of Stathern, about eight miles to the left of Ardoch, and the same distance from Strageth. The intention of this corps was, no doubt, to observe the nearest gorges of the Grampians, between the Crief and Lorch Ern, as well as the douchees from Balguhidder, and the forest of Glenartny, lying more to the westward. Here he have a camp, as formerly described, that would just contain a weak legion, and situatedm, in other respects, so as to suit with the relations of Tacitus.

The Caledonians finding Agricola divided his forces, immediately unite theirs, and suddenly fall upon this weakest body of the Romans. Had not the general, by means of his light troops and spies, got very speedy information of the march and intentions of the enemy, the ninth legion must have been cut in pieces; for the Caledonians had already forced the intrenchements, and were fighting in the camp itself, when he came to their relief.

Gordon, in his Itinerary, is of the opinion, that this attack happened at Loch Ore, in Fife; where we have already taken notice there is a small post. He was probably led into this belief, because the campaign was opened by an expedition into that part of the country, and that near this post there are some morasses, which he fancies to be the same that Tacitus says favoured the flight of the Caledonians, when they found themselves attacked by Agricola in the rear. But the post at Loch Ore is of the stationary kind, and by no means capable of containing a legion, not even the weakest, which we know most certainly the ninth was: a cohort, or two at most, is all the garrison this work would contain. Indeed we need not be surprised that the post at Loch Ore was judged fit to hold a legion, when the same author finds the works at Dealgin Ross so wonderfully well adapted to receive Agricola's whole army, and to all the circumstances of his decisive battle with Galgacus. But, whereever the ninth legion was attacked, it iis clear that Agricolar, with the main body, was at great distance, otherwise he could not have arrived at the scene of action by day-break next morning. This must have been utterly impossible had the gros of the army been at Ardock, and the other body at Loch Ore, in Fife: and indeedm, though the country between Ardoch and Dealgin Ross is not very mountainous, yet it is in some places so broken and rugged, and others so morassy, that without the greatest alacrity on the part of the succours, proceeding from the extreme urgency of the occaision, they probably could not have come up in time.

After this defeat, the Caledonians retired for the winter, in order to concert measure for the future conduct of the war. No doubt the Roman army would likewise be put into quarters in the nearest garrions; and it is natural enough to suppose, that, in the present circumstances, and additional force might be left at Ardoch, for the security of that important post, more than what the station itself would contain. On this, or such another occaision, then, the procestrium in all likelihood was occupied, as hath been already mentioned in the description of the camps.

Having thus attempted to trace Agricola's motinos through the first six years of the war, we should now proceed to follow him in the seventh campaign, which finished his military operations in Britain. Previous, however, to this, it may not be improper to observe, that antiquaries, from Camden downwards, have been very much divided in opinion about the situation of Mons Grampius, where the Romans defeated Galgacus, with his Caledonians. Some have all along supposed it in the Mearns, others in Angus, others, again, at Ardoch in Strath Allan; and Gordon thinks himself particularly happy in having ascertained the spot to be at Dealgin Ross, in the head of Strathern; to which last opinion Horsley subscribes, without appearing to have examined the point in question.

Already there hath been occasion to point out the course of this mighty range of mountains, which extend across the island from one sea to the other. There is no particular part of it known at this day by the name of Grantsbain, as Camden would insinuate. Richar of Cirencester, in his Map of Britain, denominates Mormond (which signifies the great mountain), near Buchan-ness, in Aberdeenshire, Mons Grampius; though in his Chorography he tells us, that the inhabitants distinguish this hill by another name; and he seems constantly to suppose the Grampians a general range, and not a detached mountain, standing in a low country, and separated at a great distance from any other, as Mormond really is. So far, however, we may conclude, from Richard's authority, that if there was any part of this long chain of mountains properly called Mons Grampius, he understood that part to be situated towards the eastern extremity of it, and not towards the middle, or west.

The camps discovered in Strathmore, corresponding in every respect with those found in the hither parts of North Britain, already subdued by the Romans, prove, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the country to the eastward of the Tay was the scene of Agricola's operations during his seventh campaign. Richard of Cirencester knew of these camps, though the modern antiquaries seem to have been totally ignorant that any thing of the kind existed. Gordon, in particular, denies that there are any in this part of the country; neither knew he of the Roman way which leads along it.

Ptolemy makes no mention of the Horestii; and Richar places them in Fife, instead of Angus, which hath generally been supposed to be their country. At any rate, it is clear from Tacitus, that the battle was fought beyond their frontiers; for, after the action, Agricola led back his army through their territories, before he sent them into winter quarters. If the Horestii were really situated to the eastward of the Tayt, which (from all the circumstances, and particularly these related by the Romaan historian abovementioned) seems most probable, the battle could not have happened to the westward of that river, in the head of Strathern; because in that case Agricola, after the battel, must have led his army into a country still unsubdued by the Romans, and where, of course, they possesd no fortresses for the reception of their troops during the winter.

When the Romans had, in the pursuit of their conquests, advanced so near the Grampian mountains as Ardoch, or Dealgin Ross, they must have seen how difficult, and indeed improper, it would have been to attempt to penetrate into that rugged and inaccessible region, while the plains of Strathern and Strathmore presented themselves towards the right, extending eastward along the foot of that remarkable range. But we now proceed to trace Agricola in his last military operations in Britain.

At the close fo the sixth campaign, it hath been shewn, that the greater part of the Roman army was probably thrown back into winter quarters in the nearest garrisons; leaving, however, the advanced posts, and particularly the important one at Ardoch, sufficiently guarded. Here, then, it is likely that the army would re-assemble on the opening of the seventh campaign; or it might have rendezvoused at the stations of Strageth, five miles forward, where undoubtedly it passed the Ern. Be this as it will, Agricola, having sent on his fleet (which must have wintered either in the Forth, or in the Tay) to harass and perplex the enemy, now assembled on the Grampian mountains, under Galgacus, by landing, and committing all manner of depredations on their coasts, marched with his army lightly equipped, that is to say, without their heavy baggage, which probably was left in the station of Ardoch, or in its procestrium, with an additional garrison for the security of the place.

From the Strageth it is thirteen and one-half English miles to Bertha, situated on the land formed by the conflux of the Tay and Almond, a Roman road leading to it all the way. By this route, along Strahern, Agricola marched, and here he passed the Ta; for on the east bank of that river, a very commodious situation, we meet with the camp of Grassy Walls; which from such parts of it as yet exist, hath been shewn originally sufficient for containing twenty-six thousand men, or the same army assembled in the large camp of Ardoch, from which it is twenty miles distant. This, indeed, is a long march, even exceeding that mentioned by Vegetius, and therefore we have supposed that there might have been a camp at the station of Strageth, though no traces of it are now to be seen.

If we allow one of Agricola's ordinary marches to be about fourtenn English miles, his next camp, from the passage of the Tay at Grassy Walls, would probably be near Meigle. The country hereabouts is too much cultivated to suffer us to expect any remains of intrenchements so very temporary in their nature; but, in all other respects, the ground seems perfectly suitable for the position of the Roman army, in its progress towards the north-east, along the plains of Strathmore.

Continuing, therefore, in this direction, fourteen miles from Meigle will bring us to the camp at Battle-dykes, situated between Killy-moor, and Brechin. From the account formerly given of this work, it appears to be one of the most entire of the kind hitherto discovered; at the same time that the similarity of its figure, and its dimensions, prove indisputably that it held the same army formerly encamped at Ardoch and Grassy Walls. If the circumstances of the situation had in any degree answered to Tacitus's description, particularly if it had been near enough to the Grampian mountains, the name of Battle-dykes would have had some weight, and we might have conjectured, that this was the camp which the Roman general occupied immediately before the famous battle with Galgacus. But this place is at least four miles from the bottom of the mountains, with the large river South Esk intervening; the passage of which, and other incidents that must have atttended it, the historian could scarcely have failed to mention, had this beent he spot from whence they marched to attack the enemy, formed on the faces of [86] the opposite mountains. On the other hand, if the Caledonians had been posted on that part of the Grampians immediately beind Killy-Moor, called Cothlaw-hill, they would then have occupired a position with their right towards Glen Ila, and their left towards Glen Prossen, which would have respectively covered their flanks. In this case, it is true the Romans, in marching from battle-dykes to attack them, would have had no river to pass, but then they must have had a march of six or seven miles to make, before they ould have reached the bottom of the mountains; and this great distance will by no means suit that particular circumstance mentioned by Tacitus, of leaving the legions drawn up just before the intrenchements;*3 for then they never could have sustained their auxiliaries, had they attacked unsuccessfully, or met with any great and unforeseen disaster. Indeed, if the Caledonians had been posted here, Agricola would not have marched so far to the eastward as Battle-dykes; but from Meigle would probably have taken the route of Killymoor, directly towards them.

In the description of the camps, we have had occaision to point out three of the smaller kind, discovered in this part of the country, one of which, namely that at Kiethick is situated a short march to the eastward of Battle-dykes; from which circumstance, joined to those just now mentioned, and otherw which follow, there is the strongest reason to conclude, that the Roman army advanced still farther into Strathmore, before they came to the decisive engagement with Galgacus.

The nature of the country seems to point out that the Caledonians would take post on [87] the Grampian mountains, towards their eastern extremity, where the plain becomes narrow, from the near approach of that lofty range to the sea. IN such a situation as this, they would find it easier to hamper the Romans in their movement, than in the more open and extended parts of the country, and therefore would, as it were, force Agricola to fight on their own terms, since he never could think of penetrating into Aberdeenshire by this gorge, leaving the enemy undefeated in his rear.

Somewhere, therefore, about Fettercain, Montboddo, or perhaps even still nearer to Stonehaven, it would seem probable that the battle may have happened; but unless a number of old Roman and Caledonian arms should, by mere accident, be dug up in the neighbourhood of those places, or that the vestiges of a camp should be discovered fronting one or other of them, sufficient to contain Agricola's whole army, and at no great distance from the Grampian mountains, we never can hope to be able to ascertain the particular spot. Many thousand chances there must be to one against it ever being hit upon by either means; yet as so many camps have already been found to exist in whole or in part, this, of the two methods, seems to be what would promise most success. The most likely places to examine and search for such vestiges, would therefore appear to be on the south side of the valley near Lawrence Kirk, Keir, or Drumliethy. That Agricola would choose this side seems probably, since the enemy being in possession of the Grampians, he would not have thought it constistent with prudence to have encamped close under the hills which they occupied.

The victory gained over Galgacus finished the seventh campaign, and with it put an end to the active military operations of Agricola in Britain. The season being now so far spent as not to admit of any farther prosecution of the war for the present, he led back his army into winter quarters. The enemy being defeated, and entirely dispersed among the innnermost regions of the mountains, therw was no longer any reason to keep his whole force united. Agricola, therefore, seems to have divided his army into two bodies, returning through the territories of the newly-vanquished nations by slow and easy marches; that thus, being more generally inured to the sight of the conquerors, they might be effectively overawed. The three camps taken notice of at Kiethick, Kirkboddo, and Lintrose, seem to have been part of those which he occupied on his return westward. Perhaps, too vestiges of others may even exist, though not yet discovered; but no doubt the greater part are entirely demoloshed. On this occasion it is probable that the army marched in two columns. The camps at Kiethick and Lintrose seem to have belonged to the right-hand column, which must therefore have taken its route along the south side of the valley of Strathmore, while that on the left kept nearer to the sea, by Kirkboddo, toward the Carse of Gourie. Whether they united at Perth, at Ardock, or not till their arrival at Stirling, cannot be determined, unless the remains of camps should hereafter be discovered, which might serve to throw farther light on this point; for if such were found in the north-east parts of Fife, we might conclude, that the left-hand column had crossed the Tay near Dundee, and thence had proceeded westward as far as Stirling before their junction with the other division of the army.


From the dimensions of thes camps of retour, it appears that two of them, taken together, are not capable of containing the army that was assembled at Battle-dykes. We know, from Tacitus, that the Romans lost but few men in the action with the Caledonians, and we are not told of any garrisons being left behind in this part of the countnry, to the eastward of the Tay. Hence, then, the deficiency of troops probably arose from the detachment sent on board the fleet, which is very likely lay in the bay of Montrose till the issue of the campaign was known. If we are to conjecture, from the size of these camps, the body of land forces with which the fleet was supplied on this occasion, must, as formerly mentioned, have amounted to between three and four thousand men.

The admiral would, no doubt have orders, in his progress round Britain, to make descents om different parts of the coast, and even to leave small garrisons in the properest situations and such as he judged would best suit the future views of the general, in order to a full and complete reduction of the island, when circumstances permitted the war to be resumed.

Roman coins have been found in many paces along the coast, particularly at Nairn, on the Murray frith; and not far from thence, about twenty, or twenty-five years ago, a very curious Roman sword, and head of a spear, were dug up near Arderseer. The Ultima Ptoroton of the Romans, mentioned in Richar of Cirencester as their farthest station, and which is undoubtedly the Alata Castra of Ptolemy, was probably established by the fleet on this expedition; and we may suppose that the Arae finium Imperii Romani expressed in Richard's map and likewise mentioned in his Chorography, as the utmost bounds of their empire here, were erected at the same time. But these and other things, concerning the Roman geography of North Britain, make the subject to be treated of in the next book.

1According to the common acceptation of the word vadum, it has generally been supposed, that the narrow channel called the Menai, which separates Anglesey from Carnarvonshire, must formerly have been so shallow, at extraordinary low spring tides at least, as to have enabled the Romans to wade across it in both their enterprizes against that island. The sands, which reach from Aberconqay towards Beaumaris, are passable for some hours of each tide as far as the ferry, which at low water is not near so brad as the Thames. But though this is likewise reckoned the shallowest part of the whole, yet even here there is now, and for time immemorial there hath been, upwards of three fathoms depth of water, on the farthest retreat of the sea. Either, therefore, the nature of the channel is altered, or the word vadum must be taken in a less confined sense; as signifying not only a ford, that can every where be waded over, on horseback or on foot, but also a shallower part of the whole, though it might me impossible to effect the passage entirely, without swimming for some little space in the middle. This indeed corresponds with the account of Tacitus (Life of Agricola, Sect. 18); for, in the last expedition, it is evident that the natives, seeing Agricola was unprovided with vessels for carrying this army over, deemed themselves secure, from the depth of the intervening sea. This interprestion of the word vadum, which reconciles history with the local situation of the country, the author acknowledges to have had from a gentleman to whose pentration and judgement he has every reason to pay the greatest deference.

2Though the passage in the orignal, “diviso et ipse in tres partes exercitu incessit,” (Tacit. Life of Agricolar, Sect. 25.) shews, no doubt, that the army marched immediately, after it had divided into three bodies; yet this cannot be understood to mean a continued march, to any distance, in three columns, as hath sometimes been supposed, but simply a separation of the army, after it had assembled, into three divisions, which produced a single movement, or change of position, from one into three camps, the better to prevent their being surrounded. This seems sufficiently plain from what follows; for no act whatsoever intervens between the separation in question and the attack on the ninth legion, in its own detached camp, being the weakest part of the army, and at not great distance from, at least, one of the other divisions, which Agricolar brought to its relief, though noth might probably march, at the same time, to sustain it.

3With regard to the position of the legions, where it is said, “Legiones pro vallo stetere,” (Tacit. Life of Agricola, Sect. 35.) they are supposed, according to the general opinion, to have been drawn up before, that is to say, withou the intrenchement of the camp, that they might be in readiness to sustain the auxiliaries, if circumstances had rendered their assistance necessary. Nevertherless, there are some who, in the expression “pro vallo,” give to the prepostion a different interpretation making it signify, for, instead of, or by way of, a wall or rampart; and who suppose that, even if there was a camp, the expression alluded not to its rampart, but simply to the strength and security which the legionary forces, considered as the corps-de-reserve, afforded to the auxiliaries that were led to attack the enemy. This, say they, seems to be the sense in which Tacitus uses pro on other similar occasions; for in the disposition which Caractacus made against Ostorius in the country of the Ordovices, “catervague majorum pro munimentis constiterant” (An.B.12. Sect.33.) could only mean, that the bands of majores, which seem to have been the choice veteran troops of the Britons, were drawn up in such places as had no fortifications, and were substituted in the stead. Whereas, had they been posted on the outside of the intrenchements which the Romans were just going to assault, their best men, when pressed by the enemy, must have been exposed to inevitable destruction, all possibility of retreat being, as it were, cut off by the situation of their own works, in their rear. To this signification of pro another circumstance is added, namely, that no vestiges of a camp have hitherto been discovered near that part of the Grampian mountains where it is imagined the battle with Galgacus was fought. But whatever degree of plausibility or force there may be in these arguments, it must be observed, that when the Romans were the attacker, and not obliged to remain on the defensive, pent up within their own lines, it seems to have been consistent with the most common rules of war, and therefore customary with them, to lead their army out of the camp, and to draw it up in order of battle before it, previous to their engaging; leaving, at the same time, a sufficient guard for the security of the lines, and the baggage deposited within them. At the end of every day's march, we know that iw was an invariable rule with the Romans to fortify their camp; and accordingly we see that Agricola, in advancing towards the Caledonians, and though yet at a distance from them, practised this method. It cannot, therefore, be supposed that he would omit any precaution when near the enemy, that at a distance he judged necessary. On the contrary, from the superior numbers and apparent confidence of the Britons, immediately preceding the action, more than ordinary circumspection seemed requisite. Admitting, however, that on this occasion Agricola made one of his usual marches, and though fatigued as his troops must have been, nevertherless engage the enemy directly after his arrival, yet, as the battle lasted till night, it must be allowed, at least, that the victorious army would encamp, and consequently intrench near the ground they fought on. Whether,t herefore, the legions were actually formed in front of a camp that the army had occupied the preceding night, which seems most likely to have been the case; or that the Romans made a march towards the Caledonians, and fought the same day; yet still there must have been a camp near the scene of action (though now perhaps, wholly obliterated), wherein the troops would not only take the necessary repose on the succeeding night, but would probably make some short halt, after the fate of the campaign had been thus decided.