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Biggar and the House of Fleming
Chapter II - Invasion of the Upper Ward of Clydesdale by the Romans and supposed traces of the Invaders at Biggar


The Roman road that is supposed to have passed through the parish of Biggar has entirely disappeared. Gordon, in his ‘Itiner-arium Septentrionale,’ published in 1727, states that traces of it were at that time distinctly to be seen in Westraw Moss, west of the town. This road or causeway is referred to so late as 1765, in the Records of the Baron Bailie’s Court of Biggar, when a complaint of Robert Wilson, ‘tacksman of ye grass of Westraw Moss, above ye cassaw leading through ye said moss,’ was lodged against certain feuars in Westraw for cutting ‘Roughheads,’ and pasturing their cattle on parts of the moss, to which, it was alleged, they had no right. This ‘cassaw’ gave the name of ‘Causeyend’ to a small hamlet built at its western extremity, and some of the houses of which still exist. This causeway was, however, in all likelihood, of comparatively modern formation. The workmen, while engaged two years ago in making excavations in this moss for the line of the Symington, Biggar, and Broughton Railway, came upon a causeway of stones, about three feet below the surface, which had evidently been formed at an early period, and which, in all probability, was part of the Watling Street of the Romans. It was minutely examined by several gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and, from the systematic and skilful arrangement of the stones, no doubt was left on their minds that they had been placed there for the purpose of -forming a road. By this Iter, then, most of the Roman troops would pass and repass on their marches to subdue, or, as Claudian says, ‘to bridle the fierce Scots.’ The probability, therefore, is, that Agricola, Hadrian, Urbicus, Calphurnius Agricola, Marcellus, Severus, Theodosius, and other commanders of the successive invading armies, halted at Biggar, and marshalled their legions on the adjoining plains.

Along the great Roman Iter, on each side of the valley of the river Clyde, circular earthen works are to be seen on the summits of the more isolated hills, and are supposed to be the strongholds of the early inhabitants. No less than eight or nine of these primitive fortifications are to be found in the parish of Coulter, and traces of them are to be seen on several of the Biggar hills, particularly one distinctly marked on Bizzyberry, immediately above the town. For a most learned and elaborate account of the ancient camps and Roman roads in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, we refer to the recently published papers in the ‘British Archaeological Journal,’ by George Vere Irving, Esq. of Newton,—a gentleman who is gradually develop-ing, by laborious researches, the ancient condition of his native district.

The Romans, as already stated, finally withdrew from Scotland during the fifth century. Their retirement led to the formation of what has been called the Regnum Cumbrense, or Kingdom of Strathcluyd. It existed till the close of the tenth century, and of course included the Biggar district; but we are unable to identify this district with any of the notable transactions that occurred during that lengthened period.


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