Archaeologists baffled by ‘absolutely astonishing’ Roman fort in UK

Hadrian’s Wall: Construction of Roman fortification explained

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The Romans descended on Britain around 2,000 years ago. They would go on to occupy the lands stretching south to north for 400 years. Much of their legacy remains dotted around the country.

Hadrian’s Wall is perhaps the most notable: a 73-mile structure that spans the River Tyne near the North Sea and all the way to the Solway Firth near the Irish Sea.

While the North of England features some of the most breathtaking Roman remains, the Empire did not stop at the border.

The Wall was originally used as a way to mark the base from which soldiers would travel north, towards Scotland, as well as to “separate Romans from the barbarians” as said by Emperor Hadrian himself.

Later on, the Romans invaded Scotland, and established what has been described as one of the “most impressive forts anywhere in the Roman Empire”.

Ardoch Roman Fort sits north east of the village of Braco, and around 45 miles north of Glasgow.

The fort’s multilayered nature and history was explored during History Hit’s documentary, ‘Fortress Britain: Ardoch Roman Fort’.

Here, particular significance was placed on the fort’s exterior.

Many artefacts have been found at the site as well as in-depth research having taken place to better understand the way the Romans constructed forts.

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Historian Rebecca Jones told History Hit about the “pioneering” nature of the site.

Researchers have unearthed not only one Roman fort but two: a first century Flavian fort on top of a second century fort which reused the original framework and changed the perimeters.

The show’s presenter and researcher Tristan Hughes took viewers on a tour of the reused and renewed ditches which measure a lengthy depth of six feet.

He said: “It’s astonishing, difficult to come up the sides even today, over there near to the fort itself, you can see some of the best preserved earthworks from Roman Britain – surviving to this day, it’s absolutely astonishing.”

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Previous excavations that took place in the late 19th century, while primitive, have helped today’s researchers in matching the two sets of ditches to their respective Roman periods.

Ardoch itself would have had some sort of timber structure on top of the ramparts at the peak of its use, with a succession of timber buildings which consisted of barrack blocks, the central headquarters, and the commanding officer’s house.

While Ardoch is today surrounded by sleepy moors, Ms Jones said it is vital that people imagine the hundreds of men that would have once frequented the site.

She said: “You’d have had soldiers on guard at nighttime, and you’ve really got to imagine something that’s quite busy.

“Often it’s good to think about when you’ve watched some film or a TV programme that’s actually shown the Roman army – the battle scene at the beginning of Gladiator when they all come back and they’re in the camp afterwards.

“It shows you an image of something that’s really quite dirty and smelly and I think you’ve got to conjure up this isn’t this lovely windswept moor, this was a busy active place full of soldiers.”

In the area to the north of the fort a great number of marching camps have been found.

Two parts of the camps remain but much of what would have been the Romans’ attacking base are only visible through crop markings as seen from the air, some spanning 130 acres in size.

Roman presence in Britain gradually faded from 370 AD.

Each outpost in the country left at different times.

The soldiers left for Rome which was at the time under attack.

Britain subsequently fell into chaos with native tribes and foreign invaders battling it out for power.

There was a great spread of Anglos, Saxons and Franks after the Romans left.

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