Scheduled Monument

Ward Law, fort and Roman campSM674

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Supplementary Information Updated
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill fort and promontory fort), Roman: camp
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NY 2417 66815
302417, 566815


The monument comprises a hillfort probably dating to the Iron Age (between 800 BC and AD 500) and an adjacent Roman temporary camp sited some 50m to its north. The hillfort is visible as two or more defensive circuits of banks and ditches enclosing the hill summit. The camp is visible as cropmarks recorded on aerial photographs and survives as buried deposits and features. The fort and camp are physically connected by a ditch system. Both the fort and the camp are located on Ward Law at about 96m above sea level, with commanding views in all directions, especially over the narrowing Solway Firth.

The hillfort is enclosed by at least two circuits of parallel banks and ditches, which enclose the hill summit. The camp was recorded as an earthwork in 1772, but is now only visible as a cropmark. The camp is rectangular in form and originally measured 225m from west southwest to east northeast by 170m transversely. There are several entrances to the camp, with that on the north northwest side protected by an unusual arrangement of four external banks and accompanying ditches (known as tituli). Excavations in 1939 and 1949-50 revealed that the camp is bounded by a rock-cut ditch up to 4.5m wide and 2.4m deep. A cobbled road and causeway led through a gate in the centre of the east side and across the ditch. Aerial observation in 1976 revealed that the Roman camp is physically linked to the fort by a ditch system running from close to its south southeast corner to join the northwest circuit of the hillfort defences. This ditch system is pierced by a Roman-type entrance, suggesting that it is a Roman work.

The scheduled area 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 is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, drystone walls and public benches. The monument was first scheduled in 1961, but the scheduling did not include all of the archaeological remains: the present amendment rectifies this.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to our knowledge and understanding of later prehistoric settlement in Scotland, specifically Iron Age and Roman defensive sites. In addition to the visible remains of the banks and ditches, the hillfort has high potential to preserve important buried deposits, features and structures relating to its construction and use, which could enhance our understanding of Iron Age settlement, society and economy, as well as the relationship between natives and incomers. The monument is also of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the construction, use and internal layout of Roman temporary camps. There is good potential for the survival of buried features and deposits, both within the camp interior and in the fills of the ditch. Such deposits could include dateable organic remains and artefactual evidence relating to the occupation of the camp. Within the camp, there is high potential for the survival of occupation evidence, such as rubbish pits and bread ovens, which can help inform our understanding of the date of use of the camp, its layout and organisation, and the daily lives of Roman soldiers while in the field. Organic evidence from the fill of the ditches around the camp could also provide information about the local environment at the time of the camp's construction. Spatial analysis of camps and Roman roads can inform our understanding of Roman military strategy and offer insights into the effects of the Roman occupation on the contemporary Iron Age landscape and its inhabitants. The loss of the monument would diminish our understanding of the construction and use of temporary camps by the Roman army, our knowledge of Roman military structure, economy and social practice, and the relationship between Iron Age defended settlements and Roman military sites.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 66098 and 66099 (accessed on 07/03/2016).

The Dumfries and Galloway Council Historic Environment Record reference is MDG6530 (accessed on 07/03/2016).


Hussen, C-M, Jones, R and Hanson, W S 2009, Geophysical Survey on Roman Camps in Scotland – Ward Law, Dumfries and Galloway (Caerlaverock parish), geophysical survey , Discovery Excav Scot 10, 53.

JRS 1940, Roman Britain in 1939. I. Sites explored , Jour Roman Stud 30, 161-2.

JRS 1952, Roman Britain in 1951. I. Sites explored , Jour Roman Stud 42, 88.

Jones, R H 2011, Roman Camps in Scotland, Edinburgh, 316-317.

Maxwell, G S and Wilson, D R 1987, Air reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-84 , Britannia 18, 23-4.

St Joseph, J K 1952, Three Nithsdale sites , in Clarke, J (ed) The Roman occupation of south-western Scotland, Glasgow, 117-20.

Truckell, A E 1950, Excavation notes , Trans Dumfriesshire Galloway Natur Hist Antiq Soc, 3rd ser, 27, 203-4.

HER/SMR Reference

  • The Dumfries and Galloway Council Historic Environment Record reference is MDG6530 (accessed on 07/03/2016).References

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 17/07/2019 05:25