Roman Fort

Bothwellhaugh, Lanarkshire/Strathclyde

NGRef: NS7357
OSMap: LR64
Type: Roman Fort
The Bothwellhaugh Fort
The Bothwellhaugh Fort
(Adapted from Miller, 1952, plate.lxii)
Roads
Possible Road: WNW (22) to Bishopton (Strathclyde)
Probable Road: NW (13) to Balmuildy (Strathclyde)
ESE (15) to Castledykes (Clydesdale)

The Bothwellhaugh Roman Fort

At least two phases of construction was observed in the north-eastern rampart during excavations in 1967-8. These digs placed three main trenches across the north-eastern defences at widely-spaced points and another nine supplementary trenches to trace the defensive circuit. An attempt was also made to uncover the north-eastern gateway but unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, the planned excavations were severely curtailed due to the British climate.

The Bothwellhaugh Fort - Click to Enlarge
Plan of the Bothwellhaugh Fort
Adapted from Britannia VI (1975) p.30 fig.4.

The defenses consisted of a turf and clay rampart 23½ feet (7.16m) thick, supported on thick sandstone foundation slabs, part of which was preserved to a height of around 5ft (1.5m). A 33 ft (10m) wide berm separated the fort wall and the first of two ditches, each measuring about 15ft (4.6m) wide and 4ft (1.2m) deep, and spaced 7ft (2.1m) apart. The fort is not square or rectangular in plan, but a rhomboid, with no two sides or angles the same, its four corners being roughly aligned towards the cardinal points. The axial dimensions are roughly 460 x 415 feet (140 x 126 m), enclosing an area of about 4¼ acres (1.7ha), large enough for a cohors quingenaria equitata, a mixed unit of infantry and cavalry of a nominal five-hundred troopers and squaddies.

Carved Drain Cover from the Bothwellhaugh Bath-House
Carved Roman Drain Cover
from the Bothwellhaugh bath-house

Although expected, there is no Flavian-Trajanic decorated ware recorded at Bothwellhaugh. Antonine occupation is attested by potters stamps of Cassius Form 33 and Crobiso Form 33. On this evidence, and the fact that two construction phases were recorded during excavations, the fort is thought to have been occupied during both Antonine Period I (c.AD142 - c.158) and Antonine Period II (c.AD158 - c.162).

The Roman Bath-House

The remains of a substantial Roman building were observed beside a haulage-track some 410 feet (125m) to the north-west of the fort on the east bank of the South Calder Water. A set of nine test pits dug in November 1973 uncovered evidence of a Roman bath-house, including flagstones, masonry, bricks flue-tiles, window glass and burned wattle-and-daub. The area covered by building debris extended about 80 ft (25m) north-south by 60ft (18.5m) east-west; a quite respectable bath-house is indicated. The recovery of fragments of a Form 33 samian cup confirms an Antonine date for the bath-house.

See: The Roman Occupation of South-Western Scotland by the Glasgow Archaeological Society (1952) pp.172-187 & plates.lvii-lxii;
The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
Excavation at the Roman Fort of Bothwellhaugh, Lanarkshire, 1967-8 by G.S. Maxwell in Britannia vi (1975) pp.20-35.

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