South Scotland

Dig near Dumfries unearths Roman Army artefacts

Javelin head Image copyright Guard Archeology
Image caption A javelin head was among the items discovered

Archaeological investigations near Dumfries have unearthed artefacts relating to the Roman Army's occupation of southern Scotland.

The discoveries include an iron javelin head, the remains of a Roman boot, samian pottery and tile fragments.

They were found at Wellington Bridge near Kirkton during Scottish Water works to lay a new mains in the area.

Simon Brassey, of its environmental engineering team, said the items dated back more than 1,850 years.

"It is fascinating for everyone involved to make this kind of discovery when working on a project such as the laying of new pipes," he added.

Warren Bailie, of GUARD Archaeology which carried out the excavation, said the artefacts added to evidence found in 1939 during an earlier dig.

It first revealed that Carzield Roman fort had been built in the area during the Roman campaign of the second century AD.

"The new artefacts provide additional insight into the Roman Army's occupation of southern Scotland," he said.

"For just as modern day military bases often have a huge range of imported resources and supplies - including shops and fast food outlets - Roman forts in southern Scotland during the second century AD were not so very different."

One of the most striking artefacts was an iron javelin head with part of its wooden shaft still evident.

While badly corroded and broken - perhaps due to having seen action - it is believed to be hard evidence for the military character of the Roman occupation.

Mr Baillie added that the finds showed the "long supply chain" that enabled Roman troops to garrison some of the "northernmost reaches of the Roman Empire" at the time.

Image copyright Guard Archeology
Image caption Tiles are thought to show some kind of heating system or bath existed at the Roman fort site

"Shards of samian pottery from Roman Gaul, recovered by our team, show that at least some of the soldiers, perhaps the garrison's officers, had fine tableware at their disposal," he said.

He said tile fragments also showed that a bath house or some kind of central heating system had operated on the site.

Evidence of wheat was also recovered which Mr Baillie said indicated that food supplies for the Roman garrison were not being requisitioned from the local populace but were supplied from the Roman provinces to the south.

"In fact, one of the Roman forts a few miles to the east of Carzield, at Birrens near Middlebie, was called Blatobulgium by the Romans, meaning the 'flour sack', and held three granaries which indicate it was probably used as a supply depot for other Roman forts in the region," he added.

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