Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The History of Stirlingshire
Chapter III. The Wall of Antoninus

We return again to those pre-historic antiquities, scattered over the country, which mark the footsteps of the sagacious and industrious Romans – remains that illustrate their policy and exhibit their arts. Usurpation, being subject to perpetual jealousies and alarms, is obliged to provide for its own defence against those whom it has injured. The Romans adopted various methods to maintain their imperious acquisitions against the attempts which the conquered might make to regain their former possessions. They sometimes raised extensive ramparts of earth and stone in the farthest extremities of their conquests, where nature had made no separation by mountains, rivers, or seas, between their dominions and those nations whom their power was unable to reach, or retain under subjection. With this view, three walls were, at different epochs, cast across the island of Britain.

The first, formed of turf only, was raised about the year 120 by Hadrian, who also ordered works of the same kind to be constructed, as boundaries and fences to the empire, in other countries. That wall, crossing the North of England, extended from the Solway Firth to the Tyne, and the remains of it are still to be seen in the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland.

The second of these walls, consisting also of earth, was erected in the reign of Antoninus Pius, in 140, and lay across the isthmus between the Firths of Forth and Clyde. A.D. 83 may be considered as the epoch of the first arrival of a Roman fleet in the Forth; Agricola during the same year having, as legate, passed from Carriden to the opposite, or north, shore in quest of the Horestii. By a chain of forts, which were garrisoned by soldiers, he afterwards secured the peninsula mentioned; so that the Roman period – from what may be called the colonization of North Britain to the abdication of our earliest government – must have lasted about 360 years. And though a time came when there was nothing of the Roman in the social life of Britain, it had no sudden termination, but died away into the life of the Saxon, until it was, in language at least, restored in the revival of classical literature. A military road or causeway, referred to in the preceding chapter, accompanied the rampart throughout its whole extent, for the accommodation of the troops who defended it. It ran as directly as it well could from fort to fort, never leaving the vallum above 50 yards at the most.

The third wall was constructed by the Emperor Severus about the year 210. This was the strongest and most perfect of all those works, having been fenced with stone, and fortified with towers at regular distances. It followed much the same tract with that of Hadrian, and vestiges of it are also yet visible. The inscriptions, too, on the agger in Scotland fall far short of those on the walls in the North of England as to their number; but, notwithstanding the barbarous or palaeographic character of their lettering, they excel them in this – that they expressly mention the emperor by whose order and under whose reign the work was done, together with the quantity built at such a part by each legion of vexillation. And the whole of these early Romano-British inscriptions, as far as they have been deciphered, are in Latin; while the words, which run into each other without any intervening space, take the form of rude Roman capitals, generally from 2 1/2 to 3 inches in length.

In our survey of the Wall of Antoninus, we shall strive to give a general view of its ancient line and state; but, although we describe the work from west to east, it does not follow that it was so built. Such a point, in fact, has rarely, if ever, been alluded to either by past or present antiquarians; and a disputed question it must now remain. The legions which, assisted by the auxiliary cohorts, constructed the wall, were the Second, the favourite of Octavius Caesar, and called Augusta, with the symbol of a sea-goat; the Sixth, named the Vanquisher, with eagles’ heads curiously executed; and the Twentieth (Agricola’s old corps), known as the Valiant and Victorious, with the emblem of a wild boar. Each legion, moveover, had a certain section of work assigned to it, generally a stretch of three Roman miles; and the soldiers, as we shall see in the course of our survey, were accustomed to erect at the end of their respective stations slabs with inscriptions recording the number and title of the legion to which they belonged. Most of these slabs are dedicated to the reigning emperor, Antoninus Pius, who was a great favourite with the soldiery.

Few words were necessary with respect to the work itself. It was simply an earthen wall 20 feet high, with a ditch, which generally varied in breadth from 12 to 15 feet. Gordon, however, says that, in some places, the latter measured 40 feet, and in others about 60. The earth which was dug out of the ditch, being thrown upon the south bank, formed the agger, that had also a marshy ground. In sundry parts, too, stones were found built on the outside in the manner of a sunk fence.

Chapelhill, which lies a short distance west of Old Kirkpatrick, was, without doubt, the western extremity of the wall; Carriden, on the Forth, being its eastern limit. Its full length would thus be about 39 Roman miles; but in applying the Antonine Itinerary to the English map, we must use 12 Roman for 11 English miles, the Roman mile being 5000 Roman feet, and the English mile 5,280 English feet. 12 Roman miles, of 5000 feet each, consequently make only 11 English and 6 feet: -

1760 yds. x 3 = 5,280 Eng. ft. (1 mile Eng.),
Subtract 4,840 Eng. ft. (1 mile Roman)

and the difference is 440 English feet less to a Roman mile than to an English. Then, 440 multiplied by 12 = 5,280 feet, which is the English mile. And again, with regard to the forts. If we compute the length of the wall to be about 39 Roman miles, and make 2 miles the mean distance between the stations, then we must conclude that there were probably in all 19 forts, with 18 intervals. How the wall was conducted over the many rivulets that intercept its course, cannot now be known; unless it was by arches, few vestiges of which remain.

According to Dr. Irvine, Historiographer Royal, the remains of a great Roman fort were found at Dumbarton in 1686. Advancing eastward, he states that he discovered those of another, but smaller, at the castle there; and of a third at the foot of Dunbuck hill. He sets down a fourth at Dunglas; and a fifth at Chapelhill, above the village of Old Kilpatrick. It ought not to be overlooked, that the former shallowness at low water of the Clyde, in this neighbourhood, demanded that the province afterwards called Valentia should be thus protected from incursions. But the wall itself certainly extended no farther than Old Kilpatrick, though the military way may have done so. Here, in 1693, two tabular stones were found, and from the inscriptions they bear appear to have been erected by the Sixth and Twentieth legions of the army, to commemorate the rampart, and to perpetuate the memory of the emperor, Antoninus Pius. On one of the stones is a figure of Victory, with a laurel wreath upon her brow, and an olive branch in her hand. Several earthen vases, together with coins, have also been got at Chapelhill; and from the discovery of certain legionary stones, a fort, it is thought, must have stood near the church of Old Kilpatrick.

In its course eastward, the wall passed on to Duntocher, where a fine Roman stone was dug up about the beginning of last century. The inscription is IMPERATORI ANTONIO AVGVSTO PIO LEGIO SECUNDA AVGVSTA FECIT PER PASSVS TER MILLE DVCENTOS SEPTVAGINTA VUVM – "The second legion (called) Augusta dedicated this stone to the Emperor Antoninus Augustus Pius, having made the wall three miles two hundred and seventy one paces." The stone seems to have been among the first discovered that mentions Antoninus Pius. Buchanan had not known of any such; and it is copied along with another containing Antonine’s name, by a distinguished person nearly contemporary with Buchanan, viz. Camden, who says that he had them communicated to him by Servatius Rihelius, a Silesian gentleman who had traveled in Scotland, and seen the one at Earl Mareschal’s castle of "Dunotyr," and the other at "Cadir" one of the seats of Stirling of Keir. From those Earls, who had long possessed this elegant stone, it went to Marischal College about 1725, and was by it, in 1764, with leave of the then Earl Mareschal, given to Glasgow College. Several curious Roman antiquities and medals have also been found here. From Duntocher, the wall cuts through by Castlehill. This fort is not one of the larger sort, having had a castellum at Peel Glen intervening; but it presents the most commanding view of any on the wall, Barhill only excepted. A stone found here, and which was presented in 1694 by Mr. Graham of Douglaston to the University of Glasgow, has on its right side, in mezzo relievo, a horseman, with a hasta in his right hand, and a shield in his left. Behind him stands a Victory, holding a crown, and underneath two Caledonian captives with their hands tied behind their backs. Beside them lies a short dagger, and between them stands a Roman vexillum or two. On the other side is an eagle upon the back of a sea-goat; and under this, and near a vexillum, another captive. The wall leaving Castlehill, and running east, passed on the north side of a little house called the Mosshead of Ledcamrock, ascended Camrock Hill, and afterwards took down towards the village of New Kilpatrick. The distance between the last mentioned station and this, is the least interval of any, being only a mile and a quarter. The fort here was in the east part of the village, and of an oblong figure.

After the wall has left New Kilpatrick, it shapes its course nearly east-south-east, and crosses a small rivulet called Ferguston burn. At this point, both wall and ditch are entirely lost through tillage. In ascending the moor, the ditch, however, becomes very conspicuous. Near East Boglair, the wall makes two remarkable turns, fetching a compass in order to avoid some marshy ground. It first inclines to the south in its descent towards that part over against Boglair, and then turns to the north in its ascent from it. At the head of this rising ground it bends its course again southwards, and passes between Temple and Millochin for a direct route, through Summerston, to Bemulie, which is distant, in a straight line, 2 1/4 miles from New Kilpatrick.

Bemulie Fort stands at the west end of the village. Here the ruins of the Roman town or outbuildings are very remarkable, while several subterranean vaults have been found. The west side of the building is still visible, and appears to have had a fourfold rampart and ditch. Two of three stones discovered were built into the walls of Cadder House. The inscription on one of these is within a fine corona or garland, composed of bay-leaves and berries, supported by two Victories, and a double cornucopia below. It bears no more than that the monument was erected by the legio secunda Augusta. Between this and Cadder, however, the wall cannot now be discerned. Any appearance of its vestiges are at least faint and obscure. Having crossed a brook at the latter place, it issued from these grounds near a fine rectangular castellum, and running along the top of the bank, which overlooks the valley of the Kelvin, towards Kirkintilloch, it passes to the southward of the "Peel." Caer-pen-tilloch, which, in the Cambro-British, signifies the fort on the head or end of a hill, was constituted a Burgh of Barony in 1170 by William, King of Scots, in favour of William Cumin, Baron of Lenzie and Lord of Cumbernauld. The so-called "Peel" here must, from the depth of its ditch, have been one of the strongest of the strongholds belonging to this defensive work. Its fortifications were undoubtedly of extraordinary weight. All vestiges of the building have now disappeared, but the fosse still remains to show its extent and form. It is of an oblong quadrangular shape, measuring 90 yards in length by 80 in breadth. A vast rampart, from 40 to 50 feet in thickness, originally surmounted the present level platform on all sides, having in front the ditch or moat, which was not less than 30 feet in width, with a corresponding depth. About 60 years ago, a legionary stone, measuring 5 feet in length by about 2 1/2 in breadth, was got in this locality. Carvings of eagles’ heads, etc., appear at each end of the tablet, and the following inscription in the center: -


Another stone, with bulls’ heads sculptured in bold relief; a large bar of lead, marked with Roman characters, now, however, illegible; coins of Domitian, Antoninus Pius, Commodus, and Constantine have also been discovered here. In May last (1880), while a number of workmen were engaged excavating for the town drainage works, they dug out, in Cowgate Street, at a spot near to the base of the Roman fort, the upper portion of a large earthenware vessel, apparently of an antique character. From examination it appears to correspond with the Roman "amphora," a vessel used for preserving wine, oil, fruits, etc., and so called from its usually having a large cast or handle on each side of the neck, whence it was also known as "diota," commonly made of earthenware. The Roman amphora, of which specimens are in the British Museum, contained 48 sectarii, or very nearly 6 gallons. The neck and handles of this latest relic are in perfect preservation, but the under portion is completely gone.

Vestiges of the wall again appear at the east end of Kirkintilloch, following the course of the bank above the Kelvin. They disappear, however, on approaching Auchindavy Fort, which is about 2,970 yards distant from the "Peel." This station has been accompanied with a triple rampart and ditch. The ground on which it stands is marshy, with no descent except a slight declivity to the north. The military way is very visible, passing by the fourth rampart of the fort. In May, 1771, four altars were discovered here, which had lain 9 feet deep in a pit, about 12 feet in circumference at top, and 9 at bottom. At the same time there were also found two large iron sledge hammers, and a gold coin of Trajan, which were purchased for the Advocates’ Library at 7 pounds 7s. But why should the hammers have been thus interred by the Romans, who set such a high value upon iron? Nor can that people be supposed to have buried the gold coin, which points to Trajan’s reign as the date of this singular inhumation. And, further, had they been anxious to demolish the altars, they might have reduced them to sand with one-fiftieth part of the trouble which was employed in digging a pit and burying them.

The wall, now crossing a rivulet, ascends to the mansion-house of Skirva; and has evidently passed through the gardens. Here, along with other inscriptions and sculptures, a sepulchral monument imperfect, but slightly peculiar in shape, was got some years ago. The name of the person for whom it was erected was Verecundus, who probably died young; and therefore the stone is adorned with a garland. The letters remaining are –


which may be read, Dis Manibus Verecundi.

About three furlongs more brings the wall to the Queich, and thence to Barhill, which it also ascends. In taking the hill, the ditch appears even grander than before; and the military way, here unusually near it, is likewise very distinct. The distance between Auchindavy fort and that of Barhill is exactly 2 miles. This hill has, as it were, two facing summits. The wall and ditch passed over the more northerly one; while the fort was erected a short distance south from the wall, and about a furlong west, on the usual gentle declivity. The praetorium, which was of a similar figure with the fort itself, had within it three rows of ruins, when we saw it last, resembling rampart and ditch. The view from this hill is most extensive. Both the Clyde and the Forth are within sight. On the north side of the north rampart, the ground falls somewhat suddenly, and the descent in that direction is steep. Here a curious altar was found, but which bore no visible inscription on its face; also another with a praefericulum on one side, and a patera on the other. From the same station, part of a pillar has been preserved on which is a legible inscription to the effect that it was erected to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, by a vexillation.


We give the reading divested of contractions: - Imperatori Caesari Tito Aelio Hadriano Antonino Augusto Pio patri patriae vexillatio votum solvit.

The bearing of the wall from hence to the next fort at Westerwood, which is distant about 3 1/2 miles, is more to the east. It now enters on a ridge of rocks, near the bottom of which the ditch is cut, though not very deep, and sometimes strikes through a part of the rocks themselves. The wall even runs along the top of this precipice within 5 or 6 yards of the very brink, and is here very conspicuous. It next passes to the north of Croyhill, where two small centurial stones were found that had been set up, according to their inscriptions, by the Legio secta victrix. In ascending the hill, the ditch and military way are both visible, being at the same time near and parallel to each other. Thus they proceed until the wall comes to Westerwood. This station has been situated on ground level and low, only there is a descent from it on the north side. Here, a remarkable Priapus or fallus was discovered. Below it is Ex Voto; and at the top, the letters XAN, which may be read, decem annorum, denoting perhaps a recovery from some disease, or birth, for which the stone was erected.

From Westerwood, the wall takes its course again nearly east-north-east, the ditch and military way being about five chains off. Castlecary, the site of the next fort, is 2 miles distant; and a few yards direct north of the railway station the ditch may be seen in a most perfect state. Some century and a half ago, an altar was found in the immediate vicinity with the following inscription: - "Matribus Milites Leg. XXVI. Britton VSLPM." To their mothers, the soldiers of the 26th legion of the veteran Brittons have heartily erected this sacred monument. These matres, or Deae matres as they are sometimes written, occur in several descriptions of Britain. Spon speaks of them as deified women who were thought to have the gift of prophecy. The Germans, too, seem to have paid much regard to this sort of women who they worshipped as goddesses. Ariovistus had them in his camp, and consulted them, as we learn from Caesar. After their death, they appear to have been worshipped as a sort of genii, or tutelary deities of the places where they resided. Gordon also saw a broken altar here with the letters "HBAT" – Hors Batavorum; and another more entire, on which was inscribed, "Milites Vexillatio III." A fourth was got more recently in a brier-choked thicket adjoining the wall, and which gave good evidence of having been dictated to Sylvanus, the god of the woods. About the same period, a common slab was likewise picked up at the spot referred to, on which was a representation of a Roman archer playing havoc with a herd of deer. It is known that the Romans frequently strengthened their earthen walls with palisadoes, or stakes driven into the ground. If that was done here, the country around, being a forest, could easily furnish materials for the purpose.

From Castlecary, the wall, with mouldering lines, still runs along a slope of commanding ground, having the Bonny Water in front. Clear of Seabog wood, it passes on to Chapel Hill, where a small castellum stood on the north side of the ditch. According to tradition, it was between this point and the site of an old watchtower, near Elf Hill, that "Graham" broke through the military curtain – hence the modern, or rather local name of the wall, Graham’s Dyke. With respect to this person, we can offer nothing with certainty. It might, possibly, be Grime the nephew of Eugenius. Graham is a surname very numerous, and of great antiquity, in Scotland. A distinct and powerful clan of that name is mentioned, as possessing a considerable territory upon the borders of the two kingdoms, as late as the days of Edward VI. All our historians mention a chief so called, who, in the fifth century, broke through this wall, and made dreadful havoc amongst the Britons, who were now abandoned by their friends the Romans; and, as other conquerors sometimes received names from the countries they had subdued, this renowned warrior is said to have given his to a work which he destroyed. Several of these authors have handed down another transaction, which is as likely to have given rise to the name of Graham’s Dyke, though we have never seen it taken notice of by antiquaries in connection with the present subject. In the reign of Malcolm II, near the end of the tenth century, one Grimus, or Gryme, a relation of the royal family, aspiring to the crown, raised a considerable army to accomplish his design. Malcolm marched at the head of his troops to give him battle. The two armies encamped, in view of each other, upon opposite sides of the Forth, not far from Stirling. An accommodation of a very singular nature was brought about, without any bloodshed, by the influence of Fothadus, bishop of St. Andrews, a man of high repute in both armies on account of his sanctity. The terms were that the kingdom should be divided between Malcolm and Gryme during the life of the latter; that, at his death, the whole should be possessed by Malcolm; and that the wall between the Forth and the Clyde should be the boundary of their respective dominions, Malcolm occupying what lay upon the south of that wall, and Gryme the northern parts.

At "Dick’s house," which is distant from Castlecary about two miles, the wall begins its course nearer than before to the east point; and, about a quarter of a mile farther on, crosses a brook called Bonny-mill-dam. Immediately beyond this, the ditch appears very prominent, with the vallum and military way again visible. There also appear, on the south side of the ditch, vestiges of an exploratory turret not unlike, either in shape or dimensions, those on the wall of Severus; and a short way still eastward is a castellum 66 feet square. The wall, continuing, crosses Rowantree burn; and five chains more brings us to Roughcastle, which was surrounded with a rampart and double ditch of large extent. Notwithstanding Gordon’s opinion and laudatory expressions regarding this fort, some antiquarians imagine that it has only been a kind of appendage or summer encampment to Camelon. In 1843, a stone bearing an inscription and hieroglyphics was found in the property contiguous.

On to Falkirk, the wall in its course inclines rather more to the north, and at intervals continues prominent. Between Tamfourhill and Glenfuir, which lie half a mile above Camelon, its vestiges still retain a striking boldness of character; while a fine fragment of the fosse is also to be seen within the grounds of North Bantaskine, close to the east of the mansion. Crossing the Arnothill, it enters the gardens of the south side of the above town, where a fort of considerable dimensions once stood. About the beginning of the present century, an immense quantity of stones were dug from two of these gardens, with which several walls were built in the neighbourhood. Fire-places were also discovered, still bearing blackened stains of their former servitude; while amid heaps of rubbish were found a number of fire-scarred vessels of a clayey compost, and of grayish colour, about an inch thick, and upwards of a foot broad. There was likewise a vessel of exceedingly beautiful workmanship, about the size and shape of a common slop-dish. The material was very hard, and resembled red sealing-wax. It bore on the outside the figures of four lions and other hieroglyphics, with the word Nocturna. On one of the stones dug up, the word Fecit was distinctly traced. In another garden a coin was found, having on the obverse the bust of Antoninus, with the legend Antoninus Avg. Pivs. P.P.

As soon as the wall has got clear of the town of Falkirk, it takes to the Callendar estate, where it crosses the north avenue, and then for a considerable distance shows itself in a magnificent basin, richly filled with trees, which add materially to its picturesqueness. Leaving these grounds by the enclosures at the east end, it runs close by the north side of the garden into Laurieston, formerly called Langtown, where there are still many stones of the great military causeway. When the Union Canal was being cut, a Roman granary, or cell, was discovered here, in which was a large quantity of blackish coloured wheat. In a field nearly opposite the kennel, there stood, until somewhere about the beginning of the present century, the remains of an old castellated building, which was supposed to have been intimately connected with the Wall of Antoninus; and even now the site is locally known as "Castletowrie."

From Laurieston, the wall holds on by Mumrills, the site unquestionably of another station; and here, of late years, various relics, in the form of urns and other vessels, have been found. There was also a millstone, about 18 inches in diameter, which consisted of a dark-coloured lava, like that of the millstones of the great quarries of Andernach on the Rhine. This was got lying on a stone that contained the epitaph of a Roman soldier. The wall next touches with some prominence at Beancross, striking through about 25 yards above the toll; then crosses a neighbouring burn for a flat field of some 12 acres, leading to the north west of Polmont Park garden, where it goes boldly underneath the garden wall, and thence through the lawn eastwards to Polmont Kirk. Here it crosses the public road, traverses the property of Mill Hill, and can be traced with great ease along Windy-edge and the Hill farmhouse.

Within a plantation at Inveravon we meet with the ruins of an ancient tower. Its height is about 19 feet, and thickness of wall 5 feet 3 inches. In diameter it measures 13 feet 9 inches. Its first outer wall stands 90 feet from the base; while the distance between the first and second wall is 60 feet. The building is supposed to have been a fort, as it lies on the line of the wall, about 4,400 yards from Laurieston. Eastward of the enclosures of Kinneil – Celtic, Ceann-aill, "Head of the steep bank" – a slight vestige of the ditch is again perceived. No doubt another station stood at or near Kinneil House, which is about 3,400 yards distant from Inneravon. On this estate the foundations of an old Roman bridge are also seen. The mansion, which is situated on the edge of a bank about 60 feet above the level of the sea, has on more occasions than one been exposed to violence. In December 1559, during popular commotions, it was pillaged; and again destroyed by fire in 1570, by a portion of the English army who had invaded Scotland. The natural copsewood of the grounds possesses some rather peculiar plants, such as the Betonica officinalis, and Habenaria albida. There are also, among the rarer flowering plants, Geranium phoeum, Listera Nidus-avis, and Arum maculatum.

Near the farm steading of Upper Kinneil, and a little south of the Wall, there was at one time a small tumulus, or cairn, locally known by the name of the Laughing Hill. On its being opened to obtain stones for drains, four stone coffins and four urns were found. The former contained black mould; while the latter, which were full of human bones, were inverted and placed upon flat stones. A coffin and urn similar to these were discovered in the north side of an eminence called Bell’s Knowe, immediately above the town of Bo’ness. Beyond Grange no remains of the wall are discernible, though it is probable that the last, or nineteenth fort, occupied the height behind the kirk of Carriden.

In April 1868, a sculptured slab was found at Bridgeness while a corner was being dug in a clearance formerly made by Mr. Cadell during the erection of iron smelting furnaces. This tablet, which is of freestone, 9 feet long, 2 feet 11 inches broad, and about 9 inches thick, is perhaps the finest specimen of Roman lapidary art yet discovered in Britain. In the centre is an inscription thus read, recording the erection of so many paces of the Wall of Antoninus: - "To the Emperor Caesar Titus Olius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, the Father of his country, the Second Legion (surnamed) Augusta, has made 4,652 paces." On each side is an alto relievo – that on the left representing a Roman horseman riding over the vanquished Britons; and that on the right, a sacrificial scene. The discovery of this legionary stone settled a matter of considerable antiquarian importance, viz., the exact terminal point of the wall on the east. The word Carriden, moreover, is derived from two British words, "Caer" and Eden, which signify "the fort on the wing or extremity."

The work we have been surveying seems rather to have been originally designed as a boundary to the Roman dominion, than a defence against enemies. Unless it was always well guarded with troops, it must have been but a very feeble frontier; nor could it be reckoned any gallant exploit to break through it. If the vanity of the Romans had led them to imagine, that, by castles of mud, and walls of turf, they could confine the Caledonians as within another island, they were afterwards taught, by frequent experience, how much they had been mistaken. Though this frontier was but of a small extent, yet they found it far from being an easy task to defend it. The inroads of the Caledonians into the province are usually mentioned by all the Roman historians who take notice of British affairs, as amongst the troublesome incidents of almost every reign. A people, naturally brave, could not behold in silence the triumphs of usurpation over their liberties and possessions, nor suffer to remain in tranquility a land-mark, set by the hand of injustice, to exclude them from territories of which they were the rightful owners.

In the reign of Commodus, little more than twenty years after the death of Antoninus, the Caledonians passed the wall, and, after cutting in pieces a Roman general, with the greater part of his army, continued their devastations, till Ulpius Marcellus, a commander of great experience, was sent from Rome against them; who, after much bloodshed, drove them back, and restored the island to tranquillity. That tranquillity, however, was not of long duration: the Caledonians soon renewed hostilities, and continued to give such trouble, that Severus, when he became master of the empire, found it necessary to appoint a new general, with a great military command, for the sole purpose of watching their motions, and preventing their incursions. Besides the ordinary governor of the province in the southern parts, Virius Lupus was appointed to protect the northern frontier; but, being harassed with the continual inroads of the Caledonians, he found it very difficult to maintain his station, till he had purchased a truce for several years with money. Nor did this secure to him perpetual peace; for the northern nations made a new attack upon the frontier, with a vigour which he found himself unable to withstand, till he had received a reinforcement. He was, therefore, obliged to retire as they advanced. This so incensed Severus, that he resolved upon the entire extirpation of the Caledonians, which he was yet unable to effect; for all his formidable preparations and tedious marches through Caledonia, in which he is said to have lost fifty thousand men, terminated in a peace with that people. After which, finding it so troublesome to defend the boundary of Antoninus, he fixed the limits of the empire by a strong frontier in the North of England. From that time, all that part of Britain now called Scotland seems to have been abandoned by the Romans, until the reign of Valentinian, when the Caledonians, who then began to be distinguished in history by the new name of Scots, Picts, and Attacots, making a dreadful irruption into the Roman province, Theodosius, a commander of great reputation, was sent against them, who drove them beyond the Firths of Forth and Clyde, and repairing the forts upon the wall of Antoninus, made it anew the boundary of the empire. The tract of country which by this means was recovered was erected into a fifth British province, and called Valentia. Not long after this, the Roman forces were recalled from Britain and all the extremities of the empire, to defend the great centre, at length attacked by the Goths and other northern nations. This put a final period to the Roman dominion in Britain.

Previous Page | Index | Next Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus