Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roman camps in Scotland

A new book just published reveals the true extent of the Roman Empire's attempts to conquer Scotland - and explores the archaeological legacy left behind. 

Written by Dr Rebecca Jones, an RCAHMS archaeologist and expert on the Roman frontiers, Roman Camps in Scotland brings together a full archaeological record of the Empire's military outposts, which were designed to be the temporary homes for conquering legions and armies.

Scotland is home to the largest number of surviving Roman camps in Europe, indicating that the attempts to conquer and occupy the land were much more extensive than previously thought. The new book highlights the sheer number of Roman camps throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK: up to 260 have been discovered and recorded in Scotland, adding to some 240 in England and Wales.

The camps provided accommodation at the most basic level for soldiers. Although they were only occupied for very short periods of time, they have left distinctive imprints in the landscape that can still be detected today.  Many camps are discovered through aerial survey flights, where the outlines of ancient structures lying beneath the soil show up as crop marks.

The RCAHMS aerial survey collection and existing archives of camp excavations were used extensively by Dr Jones in her research. Now every new, known, and possible camp has been mapped and recorded, alongside details of its historical significance and role in the Roman campaigns in Scotland.