From the incredible Bearsden Bath House and the eye-opening Bar Hill Fort to the astonishing Croy Hill Scotland’s Roman ruins are absolutely mind-blowing places to discover. There are other top Roman ruins of Scotland to discover including Kinneil Roman Fort, Trimontium Museum and Ardoch Roman Fort, which is one of the best known of the Roman ruins of Scotland. Wherever your travels take you, we’ve compiled a fantastic selection of Roman sites in Scotland with our editor’s picks followed by a few hidden gems you won’t want to miss.
What are the best Roman Sites in Scotland?
The Bearsden Bath House was a second century Roman bath complex which would have served one of the forts of The Antonine Wall. Today, the remains of the Bearsden Bath House – located innocuously in the middle of a modern housing estate – represent some of the best of this Roman military structure. The Antonine Wall was itself a defensive wall built almost two decades after Hadrian’s Wall and representing some of the further incursions made by the Romans in the UK.
Bar Hill Fort was one of the forts along The Antonine Wall, a second century Roman defensive wall in Scotland. Today, visitors can still discern parts of Bar Hill Fort – once this wall’s highest fort – including its bath complex. It is also a double treat for history buffs, as there is also a nearby Iron Age fort.
Croy Hill was the site of one of the Roman forts of the Antonine Wall, a vast second century defensive barrier in Scotland which ran from West Kilpatrick to Carriden, along what is now Scotland’s central belt. The wall was constructed to control trade and offer protection from the more aggressive of the Caledonian tribes; it was built in just two years. The Antonine Wall would continue to be occupied until the late 160s AD when the Romans began to retreat to its more famous counterpart, Hadrian’s Wall. Today, visitors to Croy Hill can still make out two beacon platforms and a defensive ditch which would have formed part of the original fortifications.
Forming part of the Antonine Wall, Kinneil Roman Fort was one of the mile-castles built to protect the borders of the Roman Empire. Visitors can view part of the roadway and a partial reconstruction of the line of the wall. A number of artefacts from the site can be viewed in Kinneil Museum. Kinneil Roman Fort is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. A visit to Kinneil Estate is also not complete without taking the opportunity to explore the surrounding parks, woodlands and ponds.
Unfortunately no upstanding stones remain of the Roman fort at Newstead, but visitors to the Trimontium Museum in nearby Melrose can still get a tangible insight into life in the Roman frontiers through a wide variety of artefacts and reproductions. A guided walk run by the Trimontium Museum also points out visible features in the landscape of Newstead, such as the ploughed-out rampart and the amphitheatre, to give visitors as much of a sense of the former structure as possible.Trimontium is thought to have been occupied by the Romans three times, with a garrison that numbered between 2000 and 5000 at any given time. First between 80 and 105 AD, then in around 140 AD as a support centre when Hadrian’s successor Antoninus Pius brought an army back into Scotland, and finally from the desertion of the Antonine Wall in the 160s AD until the withdrawal of the army in around 185 AD. After this, the fort was no longer an occupied stronghold, but may have been visited by troops inspecting the buffer zone north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Ardoch Roman Fort, also known as the Braco Fort or Alavna Veniconvm is a well preserved – many say exceptionally preserved – fort in Scotland. The earthworks include six foot high ditches although there are now no remaining wooden or stone structures at the site.