Ardoch Roman Fort | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Ardoch Roman Fort

Dunblane, Scotland, United Kingdom

Tristan Hughes

11 Mar 2021

About Ardoch Roman Fort

Ardoch is a Roman fort in Central Scotland, in Perthshire. Situated on a windswept moor, it is one of the best preserved Roman forts in Britain and the best preserved of its kind anywhere in Scotland.

History of Ardoch

The first fort at Ardoch was constructed during the Flavian Period, in the latter half of the 1st century AD. Although no artefacts uncovered from Ardoch have been able to provide a precise date for its founding, construction likely dates to between 79 and 83 AD, when the Roman governor Agricola campaigned in Northern Britain with the intent of conquering the whole of the island.

The ditches and the rampart of the Flavian fort are still visible to this day.

Ardoch was soon abandoned by the Romans following Agricola’s campaign, but it was later reoccupied in the mid-2nd century, when the Romans returned to this area and constructed the Antonine Wall at the Forth-Clyde isthmus (c.142 – 154 AD). Positioned north of the Antonine Wall, Ardoch’s new purpose was to serve as a frontier outpost for the Wall. The Antonine Fort at Ardoch was different in size to the preceding Flavian fort, smaller in size with its own ditches. A key reason why Ardoch has so many ditches visible today is because of the site’s multiple uses by the Romans in antiquity.

There was possibly even a third Roman fort constructed at Ardoch in the early 3rd century AD, when Septimius Severus marched a massive army into the Scottish midlands on a punitive expedition against troublesome peoples in the area. Whether Severus built a new fort at Ardoch is debated, but we do know that his army was active in this area.

In the area around Ardoch would have been several marching camps and a watchtower, the latter watching over a crucial road network that connected Ardoch with other forts and defences in the area. Archaeologists have dated the watchtower to the 1st century AD, but the date of the marching camps vary. Some are Flavian, while others may well date as late as Severus’ campaigns in the area more than a hundred years later.

Ardoch today

Today, only the ditches and ramparts of Ardoch Roman Fort can be clearly seen. In the middle of the fort is a slightly elevated area, but don’t be mistaken. This feature is not Roman, but medieval. The site of a medieval chapel, constructed on the site centuries after the Romans left Britain.

The ditches that survive are some 6 metres deep, steep on either side. From ground level, it is sometimes difficult to get a clear sense of how incredible the remains of this site are. By walking to the top of what was the Antonine earthworks however, you start to get a sense of the site’s majesty.

The land is owned by Blackford Estates, who you will need permission from if you wish to fly a drone at the site. Admission to the moor is free.

Getting to Ardoch

Ardoch is situated a few miles north of Stirling, not far from the A9. Although there is no dedicated parking at Ardoch, there is a large layby close by along the A822. You can also park in the nearby village of Braco. The nearest train station is Dunblane.

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