South Scotland

Roman sling bullet cache unearthed at Burnswark dig

Roman bullets Image copyright Burnswark Project
Image caption The dig discovered dozens of the Roman sling bullets at the site in the south of Scotland

A cache of more than 180 Roman lead sling bullets - thought to be the largest ever found in Britain - has been unearthed in southern Scotland.

They were discovered during an archaeological dig at Burnswark in Dumfries and Galloway.

Investigations have been ongoing at the flat-topped hill near Lockerbie over the past fortnight.

Dark organic soil was also found nearby which could be the remains of a bag or sack for the bullets.

Archaeologists have been trying for centuries to assess the role of Burnswark in the Roman occupation

One theory is that it may have seen the first battle in the Roman invasion of Scotland around 140 AD.

Image caption The dig has been undertaken at Burnswark for the past fortnight

During the latest dig, small numbers of the lead bullets were initially found with identical 4mm holes in them which were something of a mystery.

However, an expert in sling shot ballistics showed how the deadly weapon would make a terrifying "screeching noise" after it was fired.

Now a much larger find of the bullets has been made.

"We have had a good second season digging at Burnswark and can confirm that we have excavated the most significant hoard of Roman bullets in Britain," said John Reid, of the Roman heritage group the Trimontium Trust.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that these are likely to have been deposited in a single brief episode.

"This greatly strengthens the suggestion of a Roman assault on the hill top which appears to have been occupied at that time."

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