Roman Military Enclosure

Ward Law, Dumfries & Galloway

NGRef: NY0266
OSMap: LR84
Type: Fort/Camp
Roads
none

The Ward Law Encampment

N.G.REFDIMENSIONSAREA
NY024668650 x 490 ft
(c.198 x 149 m)
c.7¼ acres
(c.2.96 ha)

Situated on the eastern bank of the River Nith (Novius Fluvius of Ptolemy) near its outlet into the Solway Firth (Ptolemy's Ituna Aestuarium), the ramparts of the Ward Law camp were seen from the air as a light-coloured soil-mark in freshly ploughed fields by J.K. St. Joseph in the late-1940's, at which time it was presumed to be a large permanent fort. The enclosure measures roughly 650 ft. from east to west by 490 ft. north-south (c.198 x 149 m) and covers an area just over 7¼ acres (c.2.96 ha). The standard "playing card" shaped camp is connected by a ditch with titular gateway to a native enclosure lying just to the south, photographed from the air by Prof. Barri Jones and CUCAP in 1977/8. Other A.P.'s taken by RCAHM (Scotland) in 1984, however, showed clearly that the suspected large fort was in fact, a medium-sized camp. There are gateways set in the centre of the north and the east sides, and another gate in the west side, off-set slightly to the north, is indicated by it's titulum outwork, even though there is no corresponding break in the perimeter ditch on this side. The gateway on the north is protected by a unique arrangement of four titulum outworks set in a diamond-pattern before the entrance causeway. There is no defensive outwork visible at the eastern gateway and there is no trace of any break or outwork for a gateway on the southern side, neither was there any trace of interior buildings or roads. The camp was probably occupied during the campaigns of Agricola around AD80, however, no dateable pottery or coinage evidence has been recovered from the Ward Law site to either prove or dispute this theory.

A fortlet was established nearby during the Antonine period at Lantonside (NY0166).

See: Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.58;
The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
Britannia ix (1978) pp.418/9;
Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987) pp.23/4 & plate.IXb.

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