The monument comprises the buried remains of a complex of Roman military remains and a pair of later prehistoric round barrows all visible as cropmarks on aerial photography. These cropmarks represent negative or buried archaeological features that retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil resulting in the variant growth of the crops above. The Roman remains include a fort with an annexe, a stretch of Roman road, a structure interpreted as a Roman signalling station, at least five Roman camps and a possible Roman-period rectilinear enclosure. The monuments to be scheduled lie in arable and pasture fields. The fort and its annexe were designated in 1952 and the camps and prehistoric round barrows were first scheduled in 1980. However, the existing schedulings do not meet modern standards and do not reflect improved knowledge of the Glenlochar complex in light of recent research; the present rescheduling rectifies this and combines the three former scheduled monuments (Index Numbers 4250, 4236 and 4285) into a new unified area.
The site of the fort is visible as a levelled platform approximately 360m north of Culvennan farmhouse. Following discovery through aerial survey of the area, a trial excavation in 1951 confirmed the presence of the fort. Cropmarks reveal the buried remains of three ditches, each associated with a rampart, which enclose an internal area of approximately 2.9ha. The internal street system also appears as cropmarks on aerial photographs of the fort.
At least five camps lie to the E, SE and N of the fort. All appear as cropmarks, revealing the buried remains of their perimeter ditches. Two appear as complete or near complete rectangular enclosures with rounded corners and centrally positioned gates in each side. At least a further three camps are represented by fragmentary stretches of perimeter ditches. The dates of the camps are not known, but some are likely to have been occupied in the late 1st or mid-2nd centuries AD.
Cropmarks also reveal the buried remains of two circular barrows, a type of funerary monument often dating to the Bronze Age. These lie 340m NNW and 440m north of Mains of Greenlaw farm and both appear roughly circular in shape. The first barrow measures approximately 10m in diameter while the second is around 16m in diameter. Two marks within the second barrow may be evidence for cists or graves covered by the barrow.
The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the upper 300mm of all roads, paths and hard standings and the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire and timber fences and stone, brick and drystone walls within the proposed area. The scheduled area runs up to but does not include the boundaries of immediately adjacent properties at Abbey Yards, Glenlochar House, Danevale Estate, Mains of Greenlaw, Culvennan Cottage, Tigh an Drochaid, Abbey Yard Cottage, Marchfield steading and Farm Cottage.
Statement of National Importance
The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:
The monument is a well-preserved complex of Roman military remains relating to more than one period of occupation of this site. Discovered by aerial survey in the late 1940s, excavation within Glenlochar fort revealed the survival of significant structural remains, datable artefacts and that the first fort on this site dated to the late 1st century AD. Given the strategic importance and defensive strength of this site, the Roman military rebuilt Glenlochar fort in the 140s AD. Cropmarks reveal the fort's street pattern, a regular grid of paved roads, giving us some idea of the fort's internal layout. Glenlochar appears well-defended, with what may be a line of lilia pits just inside the outermost ditch. These were concealed pits containing a sharpened wooden stake designed to break up massed attack.
The road running to the north of the fort probably represents the main Roman route into Galloway. It may have crossed the River Dee on a timber bridge and this river crossing is probably why the Roman military sited a fort at Glenlochar. Quarry pits flanking the road, from which stone and gravel were extracted for construction, have excellent potential for the preservation of rubbish deposits from the fort. Excavations in Northumbria have revealed that quarry pits close to Roman forts were often in-filled with refuse.
Glenlochar's complex of camps probably relate to soldiers moving through this area in the late 1st century and in the 2nd century AD. The most southerly of the camps is particularly significant because its interior is so densely populated with cropmarks of pits, which also appear in the area immediately outside the camp. Based on excavation results from sites such as Kintore in Aberdeenshire and Pathhead in Midlothian, these pits are probably the buried remains of bread ovens, latrines and rubbish pits, usually situated at the end of each tent inside the camp. Despite the fact that these pits appear jumbled the apparent disorder may mean that the layout of the camp changed a number of times in a short period, perhaps because the camp was used by different units as a transit camp while passing through the area. The annexe attached to this camp is also of significance as relatively few camps with annexes are recorded in Scotland. What this area was constructed and used for is unclear, but evidently there was some distinction in the use of space as the interior is subdivided. The camp bisected by the modern B795 road also contains some cropmarks of pits although the apparent difference of numbers may be no reflection of what survives below ground.
The two late prehistoric round barrows represent survivals of the Bronze Age landscape. It is likely that settlements lay nearby and further burials may survive around the edge of the barrows. The survival of burial cists within at least one of the barrows is significant as these may contain dateable artefacts or organic remains.
The monument offers high potential for the survival of archaeological evidence relating to the date, construction techniques, occupation and subsequent abandonment of the forts, camps, road and signal station as well as the later prehistoric field system and barrows. The high archaeological potential of the fort is known through excavation and the recorded cropmarks further underline this potential. At least three camps reveal visible evidence of occupation remains and there is high potential that these remains can inform our understanding of the lives of the soldiers who occupied the site. Although considered rare in the past, evidence today strongly suggests these remains may be more widespread than cropmarks visible on aerial photographs suggest. In 2009 a detailed geophysical survey of the camps at Dalswinton, Dumfries and Galloway, revealed a wealth of ovens and other pits, of which only a fraction were visible as cropmarks. The round barrows offer excellent potential to further our knowledge of Bronze-Age funerary monuments in south-western Scotland in general as well as offering possible dating evidence to show when these monuments were built. Human remains within graves can tell us about the lifestyles of these individuals and the age at which they died, while the artefacts accompanying burial can tell us about the everyday life in the Bronze Age and can reveal networks of trade and exchange.
The road running past Glenlochar formed part of a system of roads, forts, fortlets and watch-towers built by the Roman military in the 1st century AD and reused in the 140s AD. This system not only allowed the speedy movement of troops, patrols and supplies, but it may have acted as a way for the Romans to control native movement. Although its route is poorly understood today, the road may have followed a line similar to the A75 and it probably ran to Loch Ryan to exploit the natural harbourages there.
Glenlochar fort probably housed auxiliaries, soldiers drawn from native tribal communities both inside the Roman Empire and beyond its frontiers. Most of the buildings inside the fort were timber framed with walls of wattle-and-daub, roofed with thatch or wooden slates, and the majority were probably barracks and stores. At the centre of a typical fort stood the headquarters (the main administrative building), the fort commandant's house, and at least one granary; usually all three were built in stone, an indicator of their importance. At Glenlochar, the 1950s excavations revealed remains of stone buildings near the middle of the fort, although the narrow section exposed by the excavators makes it difficult making a firm identification of these structures.
Like many other Roman forts of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, the purpose of the annexe at Glenlochar is poorly understood. Annexes may have housed a range of industrial activities such as tanning, blacksmithing, other craft and industrial workshops required to refit and repair equipment as well as acting as a secure compound for storing baggage, booty, animals and captured natives who could be sold on as slaves. In addition, the annexe usually housed the main communal bathhouse for the garrison to reduce the risk of fire.
Glenlochar's Roman camps, although often referred to as 'temporary camps', probably fulfilled a range of duties. Some sites may only have housed a unit for a night or few nights while on campaign, on patrol or on a route march. Others may have been used as part of training exercises to ensure soldiers retained a fighting edge or learned new skills.
Round barrows usually covered one or more graves, the central burial being the most important and usually the first interment. Here the most prominent or wealthy members of society were laid to rest by their families, who covered the stone-lined grave with a massive slab of stone and then erected a mound of stone and earth over it. Barrows often grew larger over time, being enlarged to cover new burials around its periphery, perhaps for relatives, descendants or close friends. Both cremation and inhumation, burial of the body, were practiced in the Bronze Age and the dead could be buried with everyday objects as well as more precious items, such as fine jet necklaces and bronze weapons.
Prior to the 1940s, the site of Glenlochar fort appears on Ordnance Survey mapping as the location of a medieval abbey. The local placename 'Abbey Yard' references this tradition.
The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular Roman forts and camps, our understanding of their dating, construction and internal organisation, distribution and relationship with other Roman monuments and with the landscape surrounding them. Spatial analysis between the Glenlochar complex and other contemporary monuments may reveal valuable information on the distribution of Roman camps, the possible route of a Roman road into Galloway and related remains within the landscape, and any patterns uncovered may help to identify the location of further sites. Surviving as a clearly defined series of cropmarks, there is high potential for the preservation of important buried remains, in particular dateable organic remains and artefactual evidence relating to the occupation of the complex. The loss of the monument would impede our understanding of the placing of such monuments within the landscape, their position in the network of Roman remains in Scotland and the nature, purpose and methodology employed in their construction, use and abandonment.
Gillam, J P,1953, 'Notes on the pottery from Glenlochar', in Richmond, I A and St Joseph, J K, 'The Roman fort at Glenlochar, Kirkcudbrightshire', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, 30, 14-16.
Richmond and St Joseph, I A and J K..1953. 'The Roman fort at Glenlochar, Kirkcudbrightshire', Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd, 30, 1-16.
Scott, J G, 1976, 'The Roman occupation of South-West Scotland from the recall of Agricola to the withdrawal under Trajan', Glasgow Archaeol J, 4, 30, 31, 36-7, 40, 41.
St Joseph, J K S, 1955, 'Glenlochar', Discovery Excav Scot, 18.
Stell, G, 1996, Dumfries and Galloway, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 133-4, no 49.
Walker, J J, 1974, 'Glenlochar Roman fort, pottery', Discovery Excav Scot, 43.
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Printed: 25/01/2021 23:53