Rough Castle Fort

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Rough Castle Fort
Roman Fort and the Antonine Wall - - 1449013.jpg
Scotland centre location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Central Scotland
Scotland relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location in Scotland
Founded during the reign of Antoninus Pius
Founded142 AD
Place in the Roman world
Province Britannia
— Turf structure —
Size and area(0.4 ha)
Stationed military units
VI Nerviorum
Coordinates 55°59′52″N3°51′22″W / 55.997800°N 3.856000°W / 55.997800; -3.856000 Coordinates: 55°59′52″N3°51′22″W / 55.997800°N 3.856000°W / 55.997800; -3.856000
TownNear Tamfourhill
County Falkirk
Country Scotland
Site notes

Rough Castle Fort is a Roman fort on the Antonine Wall roughly 2 kilometres south east of Bonnybridge near Tamfourhill in the Falkirk council area, Scotland. [1] It is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. [2]

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Senate of Rome sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Fortification military constructions and buildings designed for defense in warfare and military bases

A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from the Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.

Antonine Wall defensive fortification in Roman Britain

The Antonine Wall, known to the Romans as Vallum Antonini, was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately 63 kilometres and was about 3 metres high and 5 metres wide. Lidar scans have been carried out to establish the length of the wall and the Roman distance units used. Security was bolstered by a deep ditch on the northern side. It is thought that there was a wooden palisade on top of the turf. The barrier was the second of two "great walls" created by the Romans in what the English once called Northern Britain. Its ruins are less evident than the better-known Hadrian's Wall to the south, primarily because the turf and wood wall has largely weathered away, unlike its stone-built southern predecessor.



The Antonine Wall dates from about 143 AD. The ends of the wall were uncertain for many years. In the east Carriden near Bo'ness on the Forth was a likely endpoint. In the west is Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde, although there were also forts beyond that at Bishopton and Barochan Hill. The fort is one of the best-preserved of the forts constructed along the Wall. Built against the southern rear face of the Wall, the fort was defended by 6 metre thick turf ramparts and surrounded by defensive ditches. Gateways were provided through the main Wall to the north, and also through the walls on the other three sides of the fort. Causeways were then constructed across the main Antonine and secondary defensive ditches, affording easy access to and from the fort.

Carriden House

Carriden House is a 14,041 square feet (1,304.5 m2) mansion in the parish of Bo'ness and Carriden, in the Falkirk council area, east central Scotland. It is located on the Antonine Wall 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) east of Bo'ness, and 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north-east of Linlithgow, in the former county of West Lothian. The earliest part of the house is an early 17th-century tower house, which was extended in the 17th and 19th centuries. Carriden House is protected as a category A listed building.

Boness town of West Lothian, Scotland

Borrowstounness is a coastal parish in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Historically part of the county of West Lothian, it sits on a hillside on the south bank of the Firth of Forth within the Falkirk council area, 16.9 miles (27.2 km) north-west of Edinburgh and 6.7 miles (10.8 km) east of Falkirk. At the 2001 census, Bo'ness had a population of 13,961 but according to a 2008 estimate this has since risen to 14,490.

River Forth River in Scotland

The River Forth is a major river, 47 km (29 mi) long, whose drainage basin covers much of Stirlingshire in Scotland's Central Belt. The Gaelic name is Abhainn Dubh, meaning "black river", in the upper reach above Stirling. Below the tidal reach, its name is Uisge For.

The fort was the second smallest on the Wall and had an area of about 4,000 square metres. The fort contained several buildings, made of stone from a time when this was a less common construction material. The traces of the commander's house, the barracks, the headquarters, the bath house and a granary have been discovered. Although the original buildings have not survived, these buildings' foundations were discovered during excavations in 1902-03, 1932 and 1957-61. A video reconstruction of the site has been produced. [3]

Commander is a common naval and air force officer rank. Commander is also used as a rank or title in other formal organisations, including several police forces.

Barracks accommodation for soldiers

A barracks is a building or group of buildings built to house soldiers. The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word "barraca" (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation. The word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes, and the plural form often refers to a single structure and may be singular in construction.

Headquarters Location where an organizations key leadership and coordination functions take place

Headquarters denotes the location where most, if not all, of the important functions of an organization are coordinated. In the United States, the corporate headquarters represents the entity at the center or the top of a corporation taking full responsibility for managing all business activities. In the United Kingdom, the term head office is most commonly used for the HQs of large corporations. The term is also used regarding military organizations.


Inscriptions found on recovered artifacts indicate that the fort based 480 men of the Cohors VI Nerviorum of Nervii, foot soldiers drawn from a north-eastern Gallic tribe. The military road on the south side of the Wall, which enabled transport between all forts, is still well defined and there is also a fine length of rampart and ditch still intact to the west. An altar to Victory was found in 1843 to the south of the fort. [4] Other finds include a bangle, some glass from a window and leather shoes. [5]

Artifact (archaeology) Something made by humans and of archaeological interest

An artifact, or artefact, is something made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.

The Cohors VI Nerviorum was an auxiliary unit of Roman Army Cohors quinquagenaria peditata type attested in the Roman province of Britannia from the second century to the early fifth century AD.

Nervii historical ethnical group

The Nervii were one of the most powerful Belgic tribes of northern Gaul at the time of its conquest by Rome. Their territory corresponds to the central part of modern Belgium, including Brussels, and stretched southwards into French Hainault. During their 1st century BC Roman military campaign, Julius Caesar's contacts among the Remi stated that the Nervii were the most warlike of the Belgae. In times of war, they were known to trek long distances to take part in battles. Being one of the distant northern Belgic tribes, with the Menapii to the west, and the Eburones to their east, they were considered by Caesar to be relatively uncorrupted by civilization.

A feature of the defences at the fort, discovered during the excavations, is a series of pits lying to the north west of the causeway across the Antonine ditch. These pits, known as lilia, would originally have contained sharpened stakes at the bottom. The lilia were positioned to help defend the vulnerable northern gateway through the Wall. Near the fort were a turf platform (beacon platform or signalling platform) and gravel pits for building of the military road. Interestingly the bath house was built on an annexe. The fort was defended by Nervii and Flavius Betto was a commanding officer.

Lilia defensive pit traps used by Roman armies

Lilia are pit traps arranged in a quincunx pattern dug bc xyby the Roman armies in front of their defences. Frequently they had sharpened stakes set inside them as an extra obstacle to attackers.

Antoninus Pius 2nd-century Roman Emperor

Antoninus Pius, also known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor from 138 to 161. He was one of the Five Good Emperors in the Nerva–Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii.

Major-General William Roy was a Scottish military engineer, surveyor, and antiquarian. He was an innovator who applied new scientific discoveries and newly emerging technologies to the accurate geodetic mapping of Great Britain. His masterpiece is usually referred to as Roy's Map of Scotland.

One of the best overviews of the site is the video of the Bridgeness Slab by Falkirk Council, [13] presented by Geoff Bailey, Keeper of Archeology and Local History at Falkirk Museum, from about 10 minutes. For early discoveries see Sir George Macdonald's writings. [14]

Forts and Fortlets associated with the Antonine Wall from west to east: Bishopton, Old Kilpatrick, Duntocher, Cleddans, Castlehill, Bearsden, Summerston, Balmuildy, Wilderness Plantation, Cadder, Glasgow Bridge, Kirkintilloch, Auchendavy, Bar Hill, Croy Hill, Westerwood, Castlecary, Seabegs, Rough Castle, Camelon, Watling Lodge, Falkirk, Mumrills, Inveravon, Kinneil, Carriden Antonine.Wall.Roman.forts.jpg
Forts and Fortlets associated with the Antonine Wall from west to east: Bishopton, Old Kilpatrick, Duntocher, Cleddans , Castlehill, Bearsden, Summerston , Balmuildy, Wilderness Plantation , Cadder, Glasgow Bridge , Kirkintilloch, Auchendavy, Bar Hill, Croy Hill, Westerwood, Castlecary, Seabegs , Rough Castle, Camelon, Watling Lodge , Falkirk, Mumrills, Inveravon, Kinneil , Carriden


A sound and light show has been organised at Rough Castle in November 2018 to promote tourism. [15]

See also

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  1. "OS 25 inch map 1892-1949, with Bing opacity slider". National Library of Scotland. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  2. "Rough Castle". Canmore. Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  3. "RoughCastle_Comp_01" . Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  4. "ROUGH CASTLE: FORT, ETC" (PDF). Frontiers of the Empire. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  5. "XFRF411LeatherShoeRoughCastle" . Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  6. "RIB 2144. Altar dedicated to Victory". Roman Inscriptions of Britain. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  7. Macdonald, Sir George (1934). The Roman wall in Scotland, by Sir George Macdonald (2d ed., rev., enl., and in great part rewritten ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon press. p. 228. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  8. "XFV34AltarRoughCastle" . Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. "RIB 2145. Dedication to Emperor Antoninus Pius". Roman Inscriptions of Britain. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. Macdonald, Sir George (1934). The Roman wall in Scotland, by Sir George Macdonald (2d ed., rev., enl., and in great part rewritten ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon press. p. 228. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  11. "XFR376PrincipiaInscriptionRoughCastle" . Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  12. Macdonald, Sir George (1934). The Roman wall in Scotland, by Sir George Macdonald (2d ed., rev., enl., and in great part rewritten ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon press. p. 219-227. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  13. "Roman film now online". Kinneil Estate, Bo'ness. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  14. Macdonald, Sir George (1934). The Roman wall in Scotland, by Sir George Macdonald (2d ed., rev., enl., and in great part rewritten ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon press. pp. 217–238. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  15. Beers, Roy (7 October 2018). "Falkirk Roman show promises 'a family event like no other'". Falkirk Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2018.