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the Roman Gask Project

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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2007, 03:10:57 pm »



Fig 4 The Drumquhassle resistivity survey.

This allows a lot of ground to be covered relatively quickly, but higher resolutions are possible and greater electrode separation allows a survey to look to greater depth. As an experiment, therefore, the fort itself was covered by a second meter fitted with a multiplexer which allowed one 1m and two 50cm electrode separation readings to be taken simultaneously, with the readings taken at 50cm intervals to give true 50cm resolution. The results were noticeably clearer and do seem to justify the considerable extra work involved. The magnetometry was done with a Geoscan FM256 fluxgate gradiometer, with readings again at 50cm intervals, but we also surveyed a substantial (2 acre) section of the fort with a magnetic susceptibility meter. This was done largely as an experiment. Magnetic susceptibility is usually used at extremely coarse resolutions, that can be up to tens of meters.



Fig 5 The Drumquhassle magnetic susceptibility survey superimposed on the resistivity plot.

It looks only at the topsoil and was thought to be of little use except for identifying possible areas of settlement by detecting burnt material being ploughed up from buried sites. Instead, we used it at half meter intervals and it was able to detect the fort ditches and, more importantly, two possible native ring features outside the fort which were not picked up by the other techniques.

The fort was shown to have a double ditch with the characteristic 1st century "Parrot Beak" entrance breaks, in which the outer ditch turns inwards to join the inner on either side of each gate. The fort measured approximately 111m (e-w) x 133m (n-s) over the inner ditch which equates to an area of c. 1.47ha (3.6 acres). The ramparts were not clearly detectable, but the fort's internal area was probably in the region of 2.6 acres, which would make it substantially smaller than some of the other Flavian forts to the north of the Forth and Clyde, albeit still much larger than the large (>1 acre) fortlets of Cargill and Inverquharity which we surveyed in 2002 and 3.

Air photographs of the site show a series of ditches to the north and south which have been interpreted as one or more annexes. The survey was able to follow one of these ditches for a further 210m, right past the fort's eastern side, but no trace was found to the west. Instead, there were signs that the southern ditches might join the fort's southern outer ditch. Nevertheless, these ditches enclose an unusually large area and their morphology is unlike that of any other known fort annex. They have distinctly angular corners and parts of the northern area seem to vary between single and double ditched form, neither of which are normal Roman characteristics. It is, thus, worth wondering whether they might be post-Roman in date, albeit they might have made use of an existing Roman fortification.

50m to the east of the fort, faint traces of a rectangular enclosure were found attached to the supposed annex ditch. This surrounds a copious spring which is much the closest water source to the site and which , we are told, never fails, even in the driest of summers. The enclosure was roughly (20m)2 and, although at present there is no evidence to confirm a Roman date, it could represent a springhead structure of some sort.

Our previous fort surveys have consistently detected greater than expected concentrations of ring features around Roman forts, at least some of which may have been native roundhouses occupied during the Roman period. Air photographs have already revealed substantial Iron Age occupation in the field to the north of Drumquhassle but, as the entire area has since been destroyed by quarrying, it could not be surveyed. The 2004 work did, however pick up several circular features closer in, to the west of the fort, which had not been seen from the air and at least four of these also seem likely to be roundhouses. We commented last year that some of the native features detected by our Cargill survey contradicted the accepted wisdom that Iron Age roundhouses always have their entrances oriented towards the east, perhaps for ritual purposes and/or to face away from the prevailing westerly wind. The Drumquhassle survey revealed a similar maverick, for the largest ring feature detected (which has a diameter of almost 20m) had its entrance facing firmly towards the southwest.

A number of artefacts were picked up from molehills inside the fort's southeast quadrant, including sling bullets, similar to a series found some years ago in the same part of the site. An enamelled Roman broach was also recovered and is currently being analysed. Fendoch.

Fendoch Roman fort sits on a distinct, flat topped hill near the mouth of the Sma Glen (northeast of Crieff) and, like Drumquhassle, it is part of the so called "Glenblocker" line along the Highland fringe. It has been known since the early 20th century and the late Prof I.A. Richmond conducted excavations in the interior in the 1930's which allowed him to present a complete, albeit somewhat conjectural, plan. Richmond made little attempt to study the ditch system, however, and all but ignored the fort's surroundings.

Our own work followed the pattern set at Drumquhassle, with the fort covered at 50cm resolution with resistivity and magnetometry and with a large area outside covered by resistivity at 1m resolution. An attempt was made to repeat the magnetic susceptibility experiment, but equipment problems forced its abandonment. In all, this was our largest resistivity survey to date, with a total of 20 acres being covered. The results revealed a clear image of the fort's defences which again had a double ditch with so called "Parrot Beak" entrances at each of the four gates. The defences measured 187m (e-w) x 109m (n-s) over the inner ditch: an area of c. 2.03ha (5 acres).


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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2007, 03:12:15 pm »



Fig 6 The Fendoch resistivity survey.

This matches reasonably well with Richmond's excavation evidence for dimensions of 100m x 182m over the rampart: an area of 1.82ha (4.5 acres). One minor mismatch with Richmond was detected, however. The excavation measured an unusual narrowing of the fort's short axis towards the west, amounting to a quite substantial 5.5m. The survey did reveal a very slight parallel narrowing in the ditch system, but this was a good deal smaller at just 2m.

The excavation raised the possibility of an annex attached to the western end of the fort's southern side, but made no detailed study. The geophysical data showed the feature clearly, although its southwest corner had been eroded by the nearby Fendoch Burn. The feature had a single ditch with an entrance in its eastern side. Its original measurements were probably c. 81m (e-w) x 86m (n-s), giving an area of approximately 0.69ha (1.7 acres). The fort defences may be reduced to a single ditch over the length covered by this annex, but land slippage and unusually severe rabbit damage make it difficult to be certain, especially as the soil resistance went beyond the working range of the meters in places. An 11m diameter ring ditch was found inside the annex, which may represent a native roundhouse. If so, it produced very high negative magnetometry readings, which would suggest that it burnt down. Unlike all of the other forts surveyed, however, no concentration of native features was found outside the site.

To the east of the annex, a second, single ditched rectilinear feature was found. This was also attached to the fort ditch system and may also connect to the annex ditch, although that could not be proven. It was rather less regular in form but measured, on average, 73m (e-w) x 79m (n-s) giving an area of approximately 1.4 acres.

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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 03:13:11 pm »



Fig 7. Barrack block showing on the Fendoch magnetometer survey.

This may be a second annex, or the two might represent the result of a single enclosure being expanded or contracted. Its southeast corner is, however, rather angular and the feature may not be Roman at all. Only excavation will tell but, whatever the case, both fort ditches continue across its northern front.

Inside the fort, we had not really hoped to compete with the information already supplied by the excavation. The magnetometry did, however, produce an image of a complete barrack block near the southeast corner. This is a useful control on Richmond's plan of the same structure, which merely extrapolates from a small number of slit trenches. The block shows in considerable detail with individual room partitions being visible, but quite why this building was brought out so clearly when none of the others show at all remains a mystery.

45m to the fort's southwest, a very high resistance feature was detected in an area of lower lying, damp (low resistance) ground, which probably hides a spring. This consisted of a square anomaly attached to an oval or apsidal structure which, together, measured c. 16m (e-w) x 27m (n-s). The high readings suggest stonework and although, as yet, there is no conclusive proof that the feature is Roman (or even man made), the size and form mean that the possibility of a bath building seems at least worth raising. If so, this would be a major discovery for, although a bath block is known at the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil, no other extramural bath has yet been found amongst the 1st century forts to the north of the Forth and Clyde. Newton.

Archaeologists have long sought in vain for a Roman fort in Fife. Two temporary camps are known with certainty and there is a third probable site at Bonneytown but, at present, not a single permanent installation is known. Last year we reported on finding a promising candidate from the air at Newton near Collessie. This lay in a strategically important position and seemed to be the right size and shape.

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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2007, 03:14:13 pm »



Fig 8 The Newton resistivity survey.

You can't win them all, however, and a third large (9 acre) resistivity survey has now shown that, although there is undoubtedly a large subrectangular enclosure of some sort present, its shape is such that it is most unlikely to be Roman. It sits amongst Medieval rigg and furrow, but lies on a different alignment and its date will only be determined by excavation.

Given a fairly damp summer, we had expected the 2004 cropmark season to be something of a washout, but a dry spring had left its mark and the result was something of a curate's egg. Some areas were every bit as bad as feared, with "old faithful" sites not showing at all, but others were better than we had ever seen them and, despite difficult weather conditions, we were able to make a number of productive flights. Nevertheless, we still had a little of our budget left at the end of the year and so were also able to exploit a period of low December sun to look for shadow features in the highland glens. In all, we made five flights (totalling 15 hours) and took around 1,800 photographs. As ever, new discoveries were made, including a number of what appear to be Iron Age settlements. One of the more interesting finds was a large ring feature beside the Roman Gask tower of Peel. Some years ago sherds of late Roman pottery were picked up on this spot by Mr W. McIntosh, a local gamekeeper who regularly sends us finds made in the course of his work, and our own resistivity survey of the tower detected part of a second ditch that intersected the Roman defences. We thus already suspected that there should be a native site here, possibly one that reused the Roman ditch and, like East Coldoch, still had access to Roman imports long after the army had departed. The new aerial discovery may well be that site and it would be interesting to carry out further work here in future.

The winter flight saw absolutely perfect conditions, with bright, low angled sunshine and high shadow contrast, thanks to a widespread dusting of frost. The prime aim was to look for Iron Age sites. Much of the assumed rationale for the Roman "Glen blocker" forts is a need to defend the occupied lowlands against attacks down the glens. Yet, previous work, including flying by ourselves and others, has revealed remarkably little trace of native occupation in this part of the Highlands at that time. The aim was to search for new sites but, although a small number of promising candidates were detected, there is still little sign of more than a sparse population. What did appear, though, were the remains of numerous early modern sites, most of which were probably abandoned during the highland clearances. Some these were already well known, but others do not seem to have been mapped before.

As in previous years, our flights were made from Scone, and we are again immensely grateful to Bill Fuller for volunteering his services as pilot. Bill retired as an airline captain this summer and we wish him all the very best for the future. Hopefully, our working partnership will continue for a long time to come and, to judge from the way we didn't bang into any scenery despite some fairly impressive manoeuvring in the glens this winter, he has certainly not forgotten how to do it.

In addition to our own pictures, local flying instructor Sandy Torrance has again been kind enough to send photographs taken during his flights, which give us vital coverage at different times of year. As before, these provided valuable information on flood patterns around the rivers of our study area, which helps us to predict ancient settlement areas. They also contained their fair share of archaeological discoveries, including what seems to be a second enclosure at Newton. The most important, however, is the first truly convincing evidence we have seen that the Gask frontier road might continue north of the Tay. There are antiquarian reports of such a road, mostly written in the 18th century, and a short stretch of road is known in Caldhame Wood (Kirriemuir), which local lore believes to be Roman. There is, however, no firm evidence. The Ordnance Survey shows a purely hypothetical line heading from the east bank of the Tay, opposite the Roman fort of Bertha, and heading towards the northeast.

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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2007, 03:15:42 pm »



Fig 9 Possible Roman road line north of the Tay (photo A.S.Torrance).

Sandy's photographs, however, show a clear road track running a little to the west of the OS line. This heads straight as an arrow towards the temporary camp of Grassy Walls and seems to bear no relationship whatever to the modern field system, which suggests that it might be very old indeed. Sandy also provided soilmark photographs of the fortlet at Cargill: further north, beside the Tay Isla confluence. These too show a long straight linear feature which might be a section of the same road and it will be interesting to see if further stretches emerge in future seasons so that we can begin to form a coherent picture.

During the year, we have also managed to catalogue all of the bumper harvest of pictures taken in 2003. In all, some 2064 photographs were analysed, digitised and catalogued, and CD-R sets have been distributed to the Project's members and sponsors, and to other interested bodies. One of the myths of aerial archaeology is that we fly around making discoveries. Technically, this may be true, but we often don't realise that we have made a discovery until the cataloguing stage when each site is located and checked with the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS). Now that this process is complete, we have a final total of 55 new sites found last year, ranging from indeterminate cropmarks to a full blown hillfort and we also added extra details at quite a number of known sites. It has to be said that the site identification process has got a lot easier of late thanks to the RCAHMS's wonderful new Internet based Canmap service. The Commission has long been impressively forward looking in putting information online and the NMRS has been available in text based form for years via a system called "Canmore". The new service is map based, however, and so faster and very much more intuitive to use and we cannot praise it too highly.

With a little help from our long standing private sector sponsor, we have also been able to replace the cameras we use in the air. Since our flying program began, we have been using the same 1980s Olympus OM cameras that we use for excavation photography. These are still superb machines, which we will continue to use on the ground, but they suffer from one major defect in the air in that they have no shutter speed priority automatic exposure mode. The high vibration environment of a moving light aircraft makes the use of very fast shutter speeds imperative if sharp images are to be obtained and the result has been that we have been forced to spend more time than we would like watching the camera light meters and fiddling with aperture settings, rather than constantly watching the ground to get the best pictures. Fortunately we have now been allowed to buy new equipment. The choice was surprisingly difficult. We initially took a long hard look at the digital market, since that seems to be where everyone else is going but, although the Project does now have a high quality digital camera, we remain unconvinced that the image quality is yet good enough or that digital files will last long enough to be safe for use in primary archaeological recording. We will thus buck the trend for the time being and stick firmly with film. There is, though, one real advantage to the "digital revolution", for we find that truly top flight film cameras are now available second hand at distinctly bargain basement prices. As a result we now find ourselves the proud owners of a Leica R4 SLR and motor drive for the price of a digital compact. We have also long felt somewhat ashamed to be using only 35mm cameras in the air, rather than the much higher resolution medium format so, in addition, we have now obtained a Pentax 67II SLR which, as the name suggests, takes 6 x 7cm negatives. The new cameras were first used in anger on our winter flight and the gains in quality and exposure consistency seem to fully repay the investment. Collaborations.

The Gask Project has again been able to work with a number of other scholars to gain additional information from our own sites and those of others. Some of these have already been mentioned, but we have also worked with lithic specialist Abi Finnegan, pottery expert Felicity Wild and numismatist, David Shotter. As in previous years, gamekeeper, Mr W. McIntosh, very kindly sent us material, including more finds from around the temporary camp of Forteviot and Mr Bill Kerr provided metal detecting and field walking finds. The two fort surveys were collaborations between the Project and Mr David Hodgson, a postgraduate student of Geophysics at the University of Bradford. David has worked with us as a volunteer on several of our past surveys, but this year brought the possibility of further mutual benefits. David has been investigating the effects of different geology on geophysical results and, in particular, the effects of the Highland Boundary Fault. Our two forts were thus ideal test beds for his research and will hopefully produce yet more data to add to their purely archaeological value. Archive Work.

Since its foundation, the Project has been involved in tracing and publishing earlier work, whose instigators were unable to publish their results themselves. This year we have managed to trace the records of a 1960s excavation on the Caldhame Wood road, already mentioned, and are currently preparing a report. Birgitta has also been able to make good use of the Perth archives to shed light on the later history and eventual abandonment of the Innerpeffray cutting, as well as tracing material on a number of Roman road candidates north of the Tay. Publications and Publicity.

As always, 2004 has seen a number of Gask Project publications. Birgitta had a paper analysing the story and purpose of Tacitus' "Agricola" in a Routledge collection entitled "Archaeology and Ancient History: Breaking the Boundaries". She also had a paper on the Cipius Polybius skillets (inspired by her work on the Stormont Loch example from Perthshire) in the Roman Finds Group journal "Lucerna", a review of Brewer's "Roman Fortresses and their Legions" and a substantial review article on R.Lierke's theories on ancient glass making, both in the "Journal of Roman Archaeology". David, meanwhile published a paper on our revised chronology for the 1st century Roman invasion of Scotland in the "Hadrianic Society Bulletin", an excavation report on work done at Silloth and Fingland Rigg, in a Feschrift honouring R.L.Bellhouse, and we had the usual short notes on our field work in "Britannia" and "DES".

The year has also seen quite a lot of work submitted for publication. The most significant was Birgitta's book on the Roman fort of Cardean in Strathmore. This details our own work on the site, but centres around the late Prof Anne Robertson's large scale excavations during the 1960s and 70s. The 600 page typescript went off in February and it should be published next year as a SAIR monograph. In addition, she has submitted a paper on the origin of the Roman Catafractarii cavalry units. David has submitted an excavation report on the Innerpeffray road cutting to "TAFAJ", accompanied by Birgitta's archive work on the site. He has also written a 30 page illustrated booklet on Roman Perthshire for our sponsors, the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust, a technical paper on the wisdom (or otherwise) of using digital photography for primary archaeological recording for "Antiquity", and a consolidated interim report on our first four seasons at East Coldoch for publication on the web.

We have also continued to attract media interest. We made the front page of "The Scotsman" in February and an article about us appeared in "British Archaeology". David was interviewed on the BBC news in October and later appeared in most of the Scottish papers talking about the increasingly serious damage being done to archaeological monuments by the burgeoning rabbit population. The year also saw repeats of some of our TV appearances, and Birgitta acted as an advisor to the "Time Team" on an excavation at the Roman fort of Drumlanrig. Finally, even Microsoft seem to have noticed our existence. The Project's web site has been on the Encyclopaedia Britannica's list of recommended sites for some years, but Microsoft's competitor, "Encarta", has now joined it by including a reference to the Gask frontier and, again, a link to our site.

As ever, the Directors have continued to give lectures to a variety of academic, student and amateur bodies. Both gave papers to the annual Roman Army School at the University of Durham. Birgitta gave papers to the Institute of Field Archaeologists conference in Liverpool, to Perth "Doors Open Day" and to the Merseyside Archaeology Society, whilst David gave talks in Carlisle and Innerpeffray and, in Perth Museum, for "Perthshire Archaeology Week". Sponsorship and Acknowledgements.

The Project continues to be sponsored by the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust, whose support has been indispensable and is very much appreciated. In 2004 the Trust funded our air photographic program, the purchase of additional air photographs and almost all of our specialist reports. They also funded the Innerpeffray excavation along with the production and publication of the report.

In addition to this long term funding, we must also express our gratitude to three more bodies. The Roman Research Trust funded our work at Fendoch. The Roman Society funded the Drumquhassle survey, and our long standing corporate sponsor (which continues to insist on anonymity) has again provided material support, this year in the form of long loans on the new camera equipment already mentioned.

Finally, the Project continues to owe thanks to the farmers and land owners who allowed us access to sites, to Dr David Simpson, who again provided medical services during our fieldwork, to Mark Hall of Perth Museum and to Peter Green who has continued to do a wonderful job of updating our web site. Tayside Aviation again let us play with their aeroplanes. Mrs Hillary Fuller spoilt us rotten whenever we flew. Andy and Eleanor Graham continued to provide us with dig accommodation and, as always, we are grateful to our many field volunteers, especially our long-standing trench supervisor, Keith Miller and geophysicists extraordinaire: Rachel Hunt and Susie Moore. The Future.

2005 will be another book year, with a contract from Tempus for the Directors to co-author an up to date account of Roman northern Scotland, under the working title "Rome's First Frontier". The book is to be submitted by year's end and should be published in the spring of 2006. This will be quite an undertaking, so we are planning a slightly lower key field season. Nevertheless, we plan to be back at East Coldoch for yet another "final" season and we will also be conducting at least one more in our series of whole Roman fort and surroundings, geophysical surveys. We also hope to repeat our involvement in Perth Archaeology Week, although nothing has yet been planned. Certainly, this year's dig at Innerpeffray proved a useful and enjoyable experience and there are a number of valuable pieces of work which could be done as similar short duration training exercises. Finally, our air photographic program will continue and, with luck, the gods of crop, soil and shadow marks will give us plenty of food for our shiny new cameras.

Out of the field, the year will be dominated by books. The Tempus work will take the bulk of the time, but Birgitta's slightly delayed book on the glass from Newstead is now almost ready and should be submitted shortly. Yet another book is also starting to rear its head. The original plan for our geophysical surveys was to publish them one at a time in PSAS, but we have now been offered a BAR volume on the forts in the north which will combine the survey reports with consolidated accounts of past work, including previously unpublished archive material, to produce a state of the art account. Publication is not scheduled for some years, but we need to stay on top of the individual survey reports as the work is done. In addition, there will be yet another consolidated interim report for East Coldoch, an account of the 1960's excavation at the Caldhame Wood possible Roman road and Birgitta's long awaited report on the Stormont Loch Trulla. Work has already begun on cataloguing 2004's crop of air photographs and we hope to be able to improve public access to our growing aerial archive, which now contains well over 6,000 images.

Finally, the Directors will continue to give public lectures wherever invited. Seven have already been booked, including (for the third year running) papers by both of us at the Roman Army School in Durham, and others will no doubt be scheduled as the year progresses.

D.J. Woolliscroft and B.Hoffmann.

Directors: The Roman Gask Project. University of Liverpool.
 
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http://www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/Pages/Introduction/AnnualReport04.html
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Thann Lowery
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2007, 03:20:06 pm »

THE ROMAN GASK PROJECT
ANNUAL REPORT 2005
D.J.Woolliscroft

Illustrations to the annual report

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2005 has seen another busy field season with the completion of our long-standing East Coldoch excavation; another in our series of large, whole Roman fort, geophysical surveys and a continuation of our air photographic program.  As always, our work has attracted volunteers from a wide geographical area, with diggers from Canada and the USA taking part alongside those from the local area and the UK as a whole.
Excavations



East Coldoch.
A final season was conducted on this well preserved Roman period, Iron Age settlement and it continued to yield fascinating data.  At the end of the 2004 season we thought that we had four building periods in the main, 13m diameter, ditched roundhouse.  This was somewhat speculative, however, as we had only seen the very earliest levels in two small test trenches and in areas where they had been revealed by plough damage.  The bulk of the work had been restricted to the third period and the badly plough damaged remains of the fourth.  The third house interior was marked by a large area of paving and this was finally lifted in 2005 to give greater access to the earlier levels.  Beneath it, we already had indications of a so called "ring ditch" house: a roundhouse with a shallow ditch immediately inside its walls.  The presence of this feature was confirmed and the full extent of the ditch within the area for which Scheduled Monument Consent had been obtained was revealed.  It proved, as expected, to be a shallow, saucer shaped affair, perhaps well suited to collecting manure from stalled cattle.  We had expected it to continue almost as far as the house's east facing entrance, but in fact it stopped well short of it.  This house was shown to have burned down, like its successor, although probably with rather less ferocity, for there were fewer of the signs of really high temperature conflagration that marked the end of the third phase.



Beneath the second house, a more detailed view of its predecessor was obtained, although plough damage in the south, and the digging of the later internal ring ditch further north, had largely obliterated the occupation levels.  There were, however, a number of surviving postholes and the stratigraphic information provided by some of these being cut by the 2nd period ring ditch has made it easier to disentangle the phasing of the sea of posthole stumps that have been stripped of their stratigraphic placement by ploughing elsewhere.  Each of the four main roundhouse periods seems to have had slightly different posthole designs and fill patterns, and it should now be possible to assign each to its rightful place in the site's history.




Once the primary layers of the main roundhouse had been removed, signs of a series of still older features were revealed.  Firstly, the palisade slot of the earlier of two palisaded enclosures, already seen elsewhere on the site, was traced.  Inside this was a series of much smaller roundhouses, which closely resembled those found further to the west, also inside the palisade slot, in 2002.  No stratigraphic link had survived between the slot and these foundations, but it does not seem unreasonable to assume that the houses represent internal settlement features.  Moreover, as some of the house foundations inter-cut, the palisaded enclosure may have remained in use long enough for them to need rebuilding.  Certainly, there are no signs that the houses burnt down, rather than wearing out through time.  The palisaded enclosure had been more or less expected, but another feature came as a complete surprise.  This was a rectangular enclosure marked by a light ditch or slot, c. 0.3m across.  Its full, approximately 4m, n-s width was revealed within the trench, but it extended beyond the excavated area to the west, with only c. 4m of this axis visible.  The trench had by then already reached the full extent allowed under our SMC grant and could, thus, not be extended, so the feature's full extent still remains unknown.

To the northwest of the main house, a new area was opened to further investigate the main roundhouse ditch, along with a series of ephemeral, later features found in 2003, which may have had a funerary function.  A few more faint traces of the latter were revealed, but little more can be said about their nature.  The massive roundhouse ditch itself, however, continued to show the same steep sided, flat bottomed profile as before and had again been re-cut several times.

As in previous seasons, the preservation of organic materials was superb, with grain and hazel nut shells again being particularly abundant, and C14 datable carbon was recovered form many of the critical contexts.  Most of the grain was barley, but previous seasons have revealed oats and wheat, including bread wheat.  As in 2004, possible grape pips were produced during sieving, which might come from Roman wine sediment, but seem more likely to derive from imported raisins.  If so, this may be another example of a taste on site for Roman foodstuffs to go with their taste, seen in previous seasons, for Roman beads, glass and pottery.  No further Roman artefacts were recovered from these earlier layers, some of which probably predate the occupation, but there were plentiful signs of metal working, in the form of furnace lining, slag, crucible fragments and a small, ceramic, casting mould.

In previous seasons, the site had developed quite a tradition of springing a major surprise on us at a time too late in the dig for anything to be done about it.  As a result, although each of the last three seasons had been intended to be last, we always ended up having to return.  This year, however, we finally seem to have got the place cornered and, although the early rectangular enclosure did come to light over the final two days, there was still sufficient time to investigate it as fully as was possible within the available area.  As a result, the site really is now finished, after five excavation seasons, and we can begin writing the report.  This may take some time to see the light of day, at least in its final publication version, simply because of the huge amount of specialist, and particularly environmental, work that needs to be completed first.  We would, however, hope to have an interim draft, dealing just with the archaeological features available on the Gask Project's Web site, well before this and the legally required Data Structure Report is already in preparation.

Geophysics and remote sensing
For the last few years the Project has been conducting a series of very large geophysical surveys, taking in entire Roman forts and their surroundings, and we are eventually hoping to survey most of the forts to the north of the Forth-Clyde line.  This year we were able to survey the larger of the two forts at Cargill, on the Tay/Isla confluence, to the north of Perth: the smaller fort having already been covered in 2003.  In addition, we have also produced new air photo derived plans for many of the other Roman forts to the north of the Forth and Clyde that we have not yet surveyed.  The latter work was occasioned by our forthcoming book on the Flavian occupation of northern Scotland, of which more will be said below.  Surprisingly, no plans have ever been published for a number of the sites, whilst the plans of others are often out of date (sometimes dramatically so), or seemed otherwise incomplete or inaccurate.  In all, six auxiliary forts and parts of the Inchtuthil legionary fortress complex have been newly planned, along with a number of temporary camps.  This work was greatly helped by the kindness of the RCAHMS, who made available their own air photo rectifications of some of the sites, and by Headland Archaeology Ltd who gave us a copy of their excavation plan for the fort of Doune.  But in all cases we have also made new rectifications, and added data from our own air photographs and those of others.

 http://www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/Pages/Introduction/AnnualReport05.html
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2007, 03:24:22 pm »

Cargill
The auxiliary fort at Cargill (NO 166379) lies c. 9 miles to the north of Perth and c. 270m to the east of the smaller fort.  It sits on a slight rise to the south of the Isla, a few hundred metres above its junction with the Tay, and represents, in effect, the foot of Strathmore.  It was found from the air during the Second World War by Flt Lt Eric Bradley, who was then an RAF instructor, stationed at Scone airfield.  Bradley himself seems not to have taken photographs, because of the war-time shortage of film, but fairly accurate sketches of both installations survive in a 1941 correspondence with O.G.S. Crawford (now in Perth Museum), and both sites have since been photographed many times (e.g. Fig 3).  Aerial views show a fort of around 4.8 acres over the rampart, with an annexe to the north.  There are signs that both fort and annexe had a triple ditch, at least in places, with so called "parrot beak" breaks at the entrances.  The site was partially excavated, by the late  Prof J.K. St. Joseph in the 1980s, but although, sadly, no report was ever published, short notes have reached print, and suggest a complex history, involving several rebuilding phases.  Indeed G.S. Maxwell, who took part in the work, has informed us that some parts of the fort might show up to six structural phases.



Our own work on the site consisted of an 18 acre resistivity survey and a somewhat smaller magnetometer survey (Fig 4).  For the resistivity work, the fort itself was scanned at 0.5m intervals using a Geoscan RM15 resistivity meter fitted with a multiplexer, which allowed one 1m and two 0.5m electrode separation readings to be taken simultaneously.  The remaining area was covered by another RM15 taking readings at 1m intervals with a 0.5m electrode separation.  The magnetometry was done with a Geoscan FM256 fluxgate gradiometer, with readings again at 0.5m intervals.  The survey greatly clarified the ditch system and revealed a rather longer section of the annexe defences than had shown from the air.  We now have a 166m length of its northeast defences, which run at a slightly more westerly angle than the fort's defences.  These end on the edge of an obvious erosion terrace, just short of the modern river bank: which means that the NW defences may have been washed away.  Alternatively, the annexe might originally have run right down to the water, but been left open at the bank, to use the river as a defence, or even to act as a defended landing area.  For the Isla is easily navigable by small craft at this point (and for many miles upstream), and so supplies could have been brought in by water.  As yet, there are no signs of any western  annexe defences, which may have been destroyed by the modern A93, so its total area cannot be measured.  The entrance arrangements, both between the fort and the annexe, and between the annexe and the outside world are also interesting.  At the fort's NE corner, the geophysical survey showed the triple ditches running together to form a single line, which appears to run along the whole of the NW side, except for a simple gate break which led into the annexe interior.  The only external entrance through the surviving annexe defences lies at the fort's NE corner.  Here the coalescing fort ditches produce the effect of one half of a parrot-beak and one might have expected the annexe ditches to mirror this.  Instead, they form what is in effect a reverse parrot-beak, in which the inner ditches swing out to joint the outer, rather than, as is usual, vice versa.  The result is an entrance, c. 11m wide but, even assuming the presence of an annexe rampart, the nature, and even the existence, of any gate structures can only remain speculative.  Inside the fort, the survey added a little more information regarding the street grid, but no sign of the (almost certainly timber) internal buildings was revealed.



As with many of our other fort surveys, the work also shed light on non Roman activity.  Air photography had already revealed a roundhouse inside the annexe and another just inside the fort's NW gate.  The geophysical survey confirmed that aerial evidence, but it also added two more important details.  The first was a knot of ring features, to the east of the fort's SE corner, which may be a group of small roundhouses.  Perhaps more importantly, however, a  c. 19m long, curving feature, which probably represents a souterrain, was found attached to the north gate roundhouse.  Without excavation, the chronological relationships between these features and the Roman site must remain uncertain, but the strength with which the internal features show, both on air photographs and through geophysics, might suggest that they post-date (and so overlie) the Roman occupation.  The survey also revealed extensive areas of rig and furrow cultivation overlying the fort itself and extending off to the east.  Past aerial views had suggested the presence of a number of rectangular buildings lying immediately outside the fort's eastern defences, but the survey suggests that these were actually optical illusions caused by parts of this rig pattern.



 The St. Joseph excavation produced few finds and these have never been properly analysed, but the published notes suggest that what material there was points to a Flavian only occupation, probably ending in the mid AD 80s.  This dating picture was greatly complicated by coin finds made during our survey, however.  These include coins from very early in the reign of Vespasian (69-79), one of which showed little or no wear, and so might be a hint of earlier than anticipated occupation.  As expected, there were coins of Domitian (81-96), but the really big surprise was two coins of the 2nd-century emperor Hadrian (117 - 138 AD).  Both were found in worn condition, suggesting lengthy circulation before loss, and this might be a pointer to Antonine (or, just possibly, Severan) occupation.  We know that the forts on the Gask frontier (Camelon, Ardoch, Strageath and Bertha) came back into use in the mid 2nd-century as outposts to the Antonine Wall and, some years ago, we were also able to show that the so called "Glenblocker" fort of Dalginross also showed this pattern.  It  now seems likely that we have yet another Antonine outpost and this may well prove not to be the last.  Whatever the case, however, this may help to explain the extraordinary number of structural phases found during the excavation.

Lastly, the site also produced two mid 3rd-century radiate copies (official coin forgeries), one of which may date to the reign of Claudius II (268-270 AD).  At present we have no indications of a Roman military presence in Scotland at that time and so these coins may well come from the nearby native settlement (although other Claudius II pieces are known from our study area) and it will be interesting to see what future excavations might reveal.  One thing is certain, however, for it now seems more important than ever that the St. Joseph excavations should finally be fully published, in the hope that they might provide greater insight into the site's more complex than expected history, and give us some chance of deciding which of the structural phases were Flavian and which belong to a later period (or periods).




Our other new fort and camp plans involved modifications to existing views of Doune and Drumquhassle, much larger re-workings of plans of Steed Stalls, Malling and Dalginross (Fig 5), along with what seem to be the first ever plans of the forts and camps at Stracathro and Bochastle.  One of the most simple, yet fascinating pieces of work concerned Inchtuthil, however, and consisted of nothing more than accurately combining the plans of two different excavations in the area of the so called "Officers' compound" to the southeast of the legionary fortress (Fig 6).  This area was partly excavated by Abercrombie in 1901 and further areas were dug by Richmond between 1952 and 1965.  For some reason, however, when Richmond's work came to be published, no attempt was made to incorporate the earlier results.  This is regrettable, as the Abercrombie work suggests a much more complex structural history.  Richmond himself revealed two periods in a set of timber barracks at the northwest end of the compound (Fig 6, C): the second of which was only built after the demolition of the compound's defences.  Abercrombie, however, had already revealed an extra set of defences (Fig 6, A) further west, along with a pair of long rectangular stone buildings which also look to be barracks (Fig 6, B), in the area between the compound and the fortress.  Abercrombie also revealed a number of Roman military style ovens set in the fortress ditch, which seem to suggest activity on the site after the fortress was abandoned, and the new plan provides a more complete view of all this activity than any that has been published hitherto.

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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2007, 03:25:51 pm »

Air Photography
2005 was a mixed cropmark season.  Some areas were unresponsive, with some "old faithful" sites not showing at all.  On the other hand, other areas were better than we had ever seen them and we were able to make a number of productive flights, which resulted in some 1,900 new photographs.  As ever, new discoveries were made, although we won't know how many until the pictures are fully catalogued.   As in previous years, our flights were made from Scone airfield, and we are, as always, immensely grateful to Bill Fuller for volunteering his services as pilot.  Bill has also, this year, created a searchable computer database of all of our air photos to date, which is far more flexible than our existing paper based index, and should make our rapidly growing archive easier and more productive for both ourselves and outsiders to use.

During the year, we also have managed to catalogue the whole of the bumper harvest of aerial pictures taken in 2004.  In all, some 2,100 photographs were analysed, digitised and catalogued, and CD-R sets have been distributed to the Project's members and sponsors, and to other interested bodies.  Now that this process is complete, we have a record final total of over 100 new sites found in that year: ranging from indeterminate cropmarks, to souterrains, pit alignments, Highland clearance ruins and many ring features, which appear to represent Iron Age settlement.  That such a rich harvest is still possible in an area that has been flown for more than 60 years might require some explanation.  Part of it is no doubt due to the notoriously capricious nature of archaeological cropmarks.  Certain features simply do not show very often and, of our new sites, some may never have shown before, whilst for others, the luck of the draw may have meant that they were missed on any previous showings, either because no one flew over them at the right time, or because any workers who did fly over, failed to spot them.  The bulk of our growing haul, however, both in this year and others, probably reflects the way that we fly, rather than the archaeology itself.  In the past, most of the archaeological flying within the Gask Project's study area was done by two national bodies: the Cambridge University Air Photographic Unit (CUCAP) and the RCAHMS.   The contribution of both organisations has been immeasurable and we have boundless respect for both, but their work has suffered from a few slight problems which were mostly not of their making.  Firstly, both had vast areas to cover with the limited amount of flying time that could be mounted within the bounds set by the short length of the cropmark season and their available funding, which means that their attentions have been spread fairly thin.  Secondly, in order to maximise the returns on their flying, there has been a long-standing temptation (common to all aerial archaeologists) to fly known, so called "honeypot", areas again and again, where the soils are such that the crops are particularly responsive.  For example, the RCAHMS's GPS recorded flight tracks for the decade from 1993-2003 have recently been published and show a high level of consistency over that period, with some areas flown many times, but with obvious gaps elsewhere.  The appeal of such an approach is obvious and, to a degree it is perfectly sensible.  From a purely cost/benefit point of view, for example, it gets a guaranteed and relatively predictable return from the limited resources available.  It does, however, mean that other areas can become relatively (or even completely) neglected, simply because they do not (or are simply not known to) produce above average levels of cropmarks, which in turn gives an obvious potential towards biasing the data.  For, the resulting site distribution maps will tend to reflect the distribution of aerial attention and, less directly, of certain soil types and agricultural regimes, which may or may not reflect actual ancient realities.   One of the great strengths of a flying program such as our own, which is restricted to a fairly tightly defined study region, is that we do not need to take this approach.  We too have a very limited time in the air, around 12 hours per annum, and there is certainly a great temptation for us too to stick to the honeypots, with their guaranteed returns.  This would, however, put us in a position where we were doing little more than duplicating the efforts of others and so, when we formulate flight plans, the question "where haven't we been before" is given particular weight.  We do, of course, still fly the especially productive areas, but they are not given undue priority.  Instead, we aim more towards building total coverage, albeit cumulatively over many years.  As a result, a lot of our new sites are found in areas that are rarely if ever flown by other archaeologists and although we may, quite predictably, see fewer sites per unit of flying time in such areas, a far higher proportion of those we do see are new discoveries.

We have also tried to combat another bias whose potential is built into the Project's very soul.  Since the dawn of aerial archaeology in our study area, with figures such as O.G.S. Crawford and Eric Bradley, during and just prior to WWII, there has been a marked tendency for Scottish aerial archaeology to be dominated by workers whose primary interest lay with Roman sites.  The Cambridge unit's work was for decades dominated by its founder, the Romanist Prof J.K. St.Joseph, and much of the RCAHMS's work was led by another Romanist, G.S. Maxwell.  Both men were giants in their field and it would be grossly unfair not to stress that both have contributed enormously to aerial studies of other periods.  Nevertheless, their flying patterns often seem to have concentrated on areas which were known to have seen Roman occupation, and where Roman sites were either known, or might reasonably be expected.  As the Roman Gask Project, it would be absurd not to admit that we too have a particular bias towards the Roman period, but it long ago became obvious that this cannot be understood by looking at Roman sites alone.  An understanding of the contemporary Iron Age population is at least as important and, just as our excavation program takes in native sites, so must our aerial work: which thus requires wider coverage.  In the process, we are also likely to create a broader picture for many other periods, but in a way that is simply to claim a virtue of what is anyway necessary for our own research priorities.  The results seem to prove the theory, for we are gradually putting large numbers of Iron Age (and other) sites onto the map in areas which were previously almost blank, and, as a result, we feel that we justify the time spent and the funding provided by our sponsors, far better than we would have done by flying exactly the same areas as everyone else.

In addition to the new sites, we also obtained better views of numerous known sites, which have added important extra details.  Of the latter, one of the most interesting was some particularly clear images of a double-ditched enclosure at Woodhead, between Perth and the Roman fort of Cargill.  The site has been known for many years, and classified, simply as an enclosure; but the new pictures make it appear all but identical to the southern, double-ditched watchtowers on the Gask frontier.  As yet there has never been any indication that the Gask towers continued north of the fort of Bertha, on the Tay, but it is possible that this site might be a first hint.  For the moment, this is little more than speculation, but the site does have a quite superb field of view over the Tay valley and is thus an ideal watchtower position.  It also lies close to the line of a possible Roman road, recorded by a number of 18th century antiquarian writers and this, combined with the new aerial images, is enough to encourage us to conduct surface investigations in the near future.   We also photographed what seems to be a previously unrecorded "titulus" type gate at the Roman camp of Lintrose and we have obtained much clearer images of a particular pet site of ours: the supposed temporary camp of Dun on the Montrose Basin.  We have had this site under observation for years, and suspect that it might actually have been a more permanent, fortified landing or port installation.  Indeed at some point, we would like to excavate here.  In the meantime, however, this year's photography gave us a clearer image of the site itself, but still more so, of a spread of native sites inside and immediately around it.  Lastly, we have also been able to add good pictures to our archive of a number of long known sites which had not shown before during our own flights, of which the best example is the Roman fort of Malling (cover photo) on the Lake on Menteith, which we have over flown many times in the past without result.

With a little help from our long standing private sector sponsor, we have also been able to add another top quality camera to complete our aerial arsenal, and replace the last of the Olympus OM series cameras that we used to fly with (and still use for excavation photography).  The newcomer, a Contax 167MT is without doubt the best designed 35mm SLR camera we have ever come across for aerial work and its superb Zeiss lenses make an appreciable difference to the fine resolution of our pictures.   We have also acquired a Leica MP, probably the best rangefinder camera ever made, courtesy of Amateur Photographer magazine.  This leaves our 8MP digital camera looking more exposed than ever for its lack of resolution but, barring accidents, we might never need to buy another film camera during the Project's life.

Collaborations
The Gask Project has again been able to work with a number of other scholars to gain additional information from our own sites and those of others.  Dr's J. Huntley and S. Ramsay have continued to handle our environmental evidence and we have also worked with pottery expert Felicity Wild, lithics specialist Abi Finnegan and numismatist, David Shotter.  As in previous years, we have tried to involve interested local people in our field work.  Quite a number of local volunteers helped with our excavation at East Coldoch, some for the entire duration, whilst others helped with the Cargill survey.  In particular, we had obtained permission from Historic Scotland to metal detect, just the plough soil over and around the site, in order to save material from destruction by the plough, without touching anything that remained in its original context.  Here we received enormous help from a group of very able local detectorists, including our long-standing allies, Bill McIntosh, Paul Smith and Bill Kerr.  The sheer discipline involved in such a brief can be considerable, as it involves sometimes not following up tempting signals because they originate below the plough soil, as well as all the normal paperwork of archaeological finds recording, including GPS positioning of all signals.  But this group proved fully up to the job and recovered all of the coins mentioned above, along with a good many other finds which are still being analysed.

Publications and Publicity
As always, 2005 has seen a number of Gask Project publications.  Birgitta had a paper in the Arbeia Journal on Roman clay sling bullets, including our own 2004 finds from Drumquhassle fort.  The piece also detailed work on the capabilities of these weapons, done in concert with an experimental group in the US.  This showed Roman slings to be more effective than we had expected, especially if the clay projectiles were heated before being slung.  Indeed, on one occasion, firing a red hot clay sling shot at a water barrel, caused it to explode.  In addition, David and Birgitta jointly published the report on our 2004 excavations at the Innerpeffray Roman road cutting in TAFAJ.  Our jointly written information guide  "The Romans in Perthshire" was published by Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust and emerged from the press as a beautifully produced and illustrated, 26 page, A5 booklet and yet still went on sale for a remarkably cheap 2.  We had the usual short notes on our field work in "Britannia" and "DES" and an interim report for the 2004 East Coldoch season was produced for our web site and also submitted to Historic Scotland, as part of the statutory Data Structure Report.  David's paper on the wisdom, (or otherwise) of relying on digital photography for primary archaeological recording was published on line, on the Institute of Field Archaeologists' web site and Birgitta's book on the Roman fort of Cardean continued to make its way through a somewhat lengthy editorial procedure prior to publication by SAIR.

The year has also seen quite a lot of work prepared for publication.  The most significant was our new book on the Gask, entitled "Rome's first frontier".  By the end of the year, the copious (over 120) illustrations were completed and we had a full first draft of the 80,000 word text, so we will just need to polish the English a little before sending it off, and the book is due to be published by Tempus in May or June 2006.  In addition we have continued to write up the results of our geophysical surveys, which will be published as another book once the program is complete.  Both Directors also submitted papers to the Hadrianic Society Bulletin (which Birgitta has recently taken over as editor).  Birgitta's concerns the Romans' use of luxury goods as diplomatic gifts in the lead up to the invasion of Scotland, whilst David's discusses Roman/native interactions during the occupation.

We have continued to attract media interest and during the year we have appeared in most of the Scottish and UK nationals, plus many local papers, and magazines such as "Country Life", along with the BBC Scotland, TV and Radio news.  The year also saw repeats of some of our older TV appearances, and the recording of new ones.  A piece on our East Coldoch excavation was filmed and transmitted as part of "Time Team's" "Big Roman Dig", whilst Birgitta took part in a "Time Team" excavation on a sunken Roman river barge in the Netherlands, which will be broadcast in 2006.

As ever, the Directors have continued to give lectures to a variety of academic, student and amateur bodies.  Both gave papers to the annual Roman Army School at the University of Durham.  Birgitta gave a paper in Melrose, and David spoke in Liverpool, Wigan, Montrose, Wilmslow, Drymen and Parbold, as well addressing the "Roman Northern Frontier Seminar" and giving the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland's annual Buchan lecture, at Dundee University (complete with full military escort, courtesy of the Antonine Guard).

Sponsorship and Acknowledgements
The Project continues to be sponsored by the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust, whose support has, as ever, been indispensable and very much appreciated.  In 2005 the Trust funded our air photographic program, the purchase of additional, third party air photographs and almost all of our specialist reports.  It also published our "The Romans in Perthshire" booklet.




In addition to this long term funding, we must also express our gratitude to our long standing corporate sponsor (which continues to insist on anonymity).  This has again provided material support, this year in the form of long loans of a new computer, professional quality A3 and 35mm film scanners and our new Contax camera.  We have also received a number of smaller donations from speaking engagements, voluntary bodies and private individuals.

Finally, the Project continues to owe thanks to the farmers and land owners who allowed us access to sites, to Dr David Simpson, who again provided medical services during our fieldwork, and to Peter Green who has continued to do a wonderful job of updating our web site.  Tayflite Ltd let us play with their aeroplanes.  Mrs Hillary Fuller spoilt us rotten whenever we flew.  Andy and Eleanor Graham continued to provide us with dig accommodation and, as always, we are grateful to our many field volunteers, especially our long-standing trench supervisor, Keith Miller and geophysicists extraordinaire: David Hodgson,  Susie Moore and Rachel Hunt.

The Future
2006 is our 10th anniversary season and will be another busy year.  Now that the East Coldoch excavation is complete, we can turn our attention to other sites.  Next summer we hope to conduct a long postponed piece of work outside the Roman fort of Bochastle.  There is a temporary camp here, with a number of odd features.  For example, it may have had multiple occupations, as there are aerial indications of up to three sets of western defences.  It also shows signs of having an annexe.  This is not in itself particularly unusual, for quite a number of temporary camps in the area have such annexes, but all of these have titulus type gates, which are thought to date to the 2nd-century or later.  The Bochastle camp has claviculate, "Stracathro" type gates, which are thought to be 1st-century, and an annex on such a site would be unique.  We plan to conduct excavations on the camp to disentangle the situation, as part of a wider study of the northern camps.  These will be accompanied by another of our large scale geophysical surveys, which will cover Bochastle fort itself, along with its close surroundings, where signs of a native settlement have been seen from the air, comparable to similar settlements found by our surveys around other Roman forts in the region.  In addition, we hope to conduct trial trenching and resistivity work at our possible tower site at Woodhead, near Perth, with a view to possible larger scale work in a following season if the results are encouraging.  Finally, our air photographic program will continue and we plan, amongst other things, to make an intensive search of the area between Bertha and Cargill to see if any further possible towers or Roman road traces might emerge, which might make the Woodhead site look like part of a continuing Gask chain.

Out of the field, the new book should be completed and published.  The Data Structure and excavation reports for East Coldoch will be prepared, along with reports on our other fieldwork, and our web site will be kept up to date.  Work has already begun on cataloguing 2005's crop of air photographs and incorporating them into our aerial archive, which now contains well over 8,000 images.  We are also co-organising an exhibition on our results, for display in Aschaffenburg Museum, which lies on the Roman frontier in Germany.  This will form part of their twin town relationship with Perth and will be accompanied by lectures by our German speaking Director, Birgitta, and a German language exhibition guide book.  The Directors will also continue to give public lectures where invited.  Several have already been booked, including papers (which will later be published) by both of us at the Roman Army School in Durham, and the International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, to be held in Spain.  We also have public lectures booked in Perth, Abercromby and Auchterarder, and others will no doubt be scheduled as the year progresses.

D.J. Woolliscroft and B.Hoffmann.
Directors:  The Roman Gask Project.
SACE
University of Liverpool
http://www.romangask.org.uk

http://www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/Pages/Introduction/AnnualReport05.html
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2007, 03:27:54 pm »

THE ROMAN GASK PROJECT
ANNUAL REPORT 2006
D.J. Woolliscroft and B.Hoffmann


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 Gask home  Ten Years on
2006 has been the Roman Gask Project's tenth anniversary year and so we might perhaps spare a moment for the merest toot on our own trumpet: or at least to reflect on our achievements to date.  The start of the Project was triggered by the realisation that the Roman frontier in Germany began later than had been thought, leaving the Gask to rocket to international importance as Rome's prototype fortified land frontier, and so the ancestor and prototype for the thousands of miles of similar systems that eventually grew up all round Rome's vast domains.  When work first began, we thought that we needed only to refine our knowledge of an already reasonably well understood Roman frontier, and so gain a clearer understanding of the degree of evolution involved in the design of later systems.  In the event, however, there proved to be vastly more to do than we had anticipated, for the simple reason that we find ourselves with such a rich archaeological resource (especially in Perthshire), which is capable of addressing deeper and more complex questions.  As a result, our studies have become much broader than we had originally expected.
There is still much to do, but we have already cast a good deal more light on the anatomy, workings, rationale and dating of the Roman frontier.  Our most important result has been plentiful evidence for a longer than expected life span for the occupation and this has raised the controversial, but ever more likely, possibility that the Romans were already ensconced in the area before the arrival of the famous governor Agricola, who had always been thought to be the first Roman general to reach northern Scotland.  We have also made a significant contribution to studies of the interactions between the indigenous population and the incoming Roman army, with signs that relations may have been a good deal more peaceable than expected.  In the process, we have run 28 excavations on 19 sites.  We have conducted geophysical work on a further 13, including eight huge surveys, seven which took in whole Roman forts and their surroundings, whilst the eighth disproved what had looked to be another fort from the air.  We have built up and catalogued an archive of almost 20,000 photographs, of which over 10,000 were taken from the air, and the aerial work has discovered literally hundreds of new sites, ranging from the Neolithic to WWII training trenches.  At the same time, we have worked hard to ensure that our results enter the public domain as fully and as rapidly as possible.  We have written a booklet and five full length books (and edited another).  We have published some 38 academic papers, along with a number of archive and Internet reports, and have plenty of other material awaiting publication or in preparation, including a further three books.  We have also tracked down and published the records of four past excavations, whose instigators failed to do the work themselves for whatever reason, and we have a further two such reports in preparation.  We have created and maintained an award winning web site, which makes our research available, sometimes years before it appears on paper.  We have provided training for over a hundred would be archaeologists from all over the world: mostly students, but including many local volunteers.  We have given scores of public lectures and conference papers to explain our results, both in the Gask area, the wider UK and, as befits the Gask frontier's newly won international importance, in overseas countries, including the USA, Jordan, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands.  We have also given numerous newspaper, radio and TV interviews and made television programs with 'Time Team' and 'Time Fliers'.  In all, it has been an interesting start.  Let us then pass on to the events of the current year.

Fieldwork
2006 has seen another busy field season, with another in our series of large, whole Roman fort geophysical surveys, this time accompanied by an excavation; a second geophysical survey on a possible new Gask frontier tower, and a continuation of our air photographic program, with both summer and winter flying.  As always, our work has attracted volunteers from a wide geographical area, including the Gask region itself.

 
http://www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/Pages/Introduction/AnnualReport06.html
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2007, 03:30:01 pm »

Bochastle
The Roman fort of Bochastle (NN 615078) is part of the so called "glenblocker" line: a series of forts between the Clyde and the Tay, most of which are set in or near the mouths of the main Highland glens.  It was partly excavated by W. Anderson and the Glasgow Archaeology Society between 1949 and 1953 and as a report was produced with commendable promptness (TGAS 1956), the site should have been well understood.  Sadly, however, the published account is (to say the least) not a model of clarity, made worse by poor illustration.  The work was sufficient to prove a later 1st-century, Flavian date, but it also claimed a number of suspiciously unusual features.  For example, the excavator claimed that the fort had only a single defensive ditch, whereas air photography reveals a far more normal two.  He also asserted that the north rampart angled off towards the south, to the east of the north gate and that the fort lies markedly off centre within its ditch system, with the west rampart only 1.8m from its ditch, compared with 22.6m in the east.  The ramparts appeared to turn inwards to provide deeply recessed gates on all four sides and, as few internal features were identified, the excavator came to believe that the adjacent River Leny had eroded the fort at some point, removing all trace of buildings.  This final conclusion was particularly startling as the one reasonable piece of area excavation that was conducted in the interior, recorded a floor and a line of posts, which might have been part of a barrack.  The report appears to give this discovery little significance, however, and did not even bother to provide a plan.  Likewise other remains towards the north-east corner were brushed over with hardly a word and it is to be regretted that so important a site could be treated in such a cavalier manner at a time when archaeological technique was already well advanced.

In an attempt to clarify matters, the Gask Project conducted resistance and magnetic surveys covering an area of over 22 acres, which took in the whole fort and its immediate surroundings, along with the north-eastern quadrant of a large accompanying temporary camp.  The work formed part of our longer term series of fort surveys, which eventually plans to cover all of the forts north of the Forth and Clyde, and it took us over the half way mark for the program: with seven forts now finished and a further six still to go.

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« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2007, 03:31:23 pm »



The results provide a significant advance in our previous knowledge and firmly disprove many of the claims made in the excavation report.  They confirm, for example, the aerial indications that the fort had two ditches on all four sides and show an upcast mound outside them.  There is no sign that the northern defences made the course change the excavator claimed: instead the defences were simply eroded away by the river at the north-east corner.  The survey also confirmed aerial indications that the ditches formed a variant on the normal Flavian "parrot beak" gate entrance breaks which has also been seen at the next "glenblocker" fort to the west: Malling.  In a standard parrot beak, the outer ditch turns inwards to meet the inner on either side of the entrance, but at Malling and Bochastle, both ditches turn inwards before meeting, to create a pattern that more resembles an eagle's beak.  The fort ramparts showed well as a series of high resistance bands and there was no indication that the east rampart lay, as claimed, at any greater distance from the ditches than the others.  Instead there was a uniform separation of c 2.6m all round.  One aspect of the excavation plan was, however, strikingly vindicated: the rampart re-entrants, which do indeed occur at all four gates and, although not completely uniform, these are quite as deep as claimed: ranging from 19m - 26m.  Similar features have been found at a number of other 1st-century forts in the north, with Cardean, Drumquhassle and Strageath all showing gates of a similar design, albeit not on all four sides.  It is thus possible that gates of this type might prove to be more common than is currently suspected, and may eventually be seen as a diagnostic late 1st-century feature.  Tactically, they fit well with the parrot/eagle beak ditch breaks, to create what amount to funnels that could be guaranteed to cause confusion amongst even an ordered rush on the gates.  Because of their design, an attacking force would have been able to pass through the outer ditch on quite a broad, c 25m wide, front.  It would then find itself rapidly compressed as the outer ditch ran in towards an inner ditch break only c 15m wide.  Some of its outermost members might even be pushed into this ditch, but the others would be forced inwards, causing confusion in the ranks at a time when they were already under fire from the fort.  They would then pass down the rampart re-entrant, becoming still more crushed and disordered, to a fort entrance just c 6m wide.  There they would be faced with the barrier of the gate itself, whilst under enfilading fire from the rampart funnel, and with their escape route blocked by their own comrades forging on from behind.  The result would be a killing ground with the funnel acting as a trap: a very neat, if unpleasant, piece of design.

There were firm indications that the interior is much better preserved than the excavator would have us believe.  For the road between the east and west gates showed strongly as (more importantly) do signs of internal timber building foundations.  In particular, two large courtyard structures from the main range were visible immediately south of the east-west road, with even room divisions being detected.  Three of the fort's four corners have survived, although that in the north-west has only just been spared by the river and a only small part of its south-western counterpart projects from beneath a (now disused) Victorian railway embankment.  Nevertheless, this is enough to provide a more accurate size for the site, which now measures 148m (e-w) x 178m (n-s) over the ramparts and 170m x 197m over the outer ditch.  Making allowance for the gate re-entrants, this gives an internal area of c 2.2 ha (5.4 acres), which is slightly larger than had been estimated from air photographs, but still smaller than many other Flavian forts in the region.

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« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2007, 03:33:51 pm »



The temporary camp lies to the west of the fort and was previously known only from the air, as the only past excavation, which was designed to check the line of the north ditch, failed to find it.  No gates have been detected on the east and west (long axis) sides, but there are 'Stracathro' style gates in the north and south: a type usually ascribed to the Flavian period.  The site is unusually large for the type, however, for although its exact dimensions required clarification, it appeared to measure c 530m (n-s) x  365m (e-w), an area of c. 19.4 ha (47.8 acres).  The difficulty in determining the camp's size derived from an oddity on its west side, where air photographs have shown up to three widely spaced ditches.  There had also been aerial indications of a small rectangular enclosure attached to the southern end of the east rampart which resembled an annexe.  Camps with annexes are not unusual in Scotland (e.g. Craigarnhall a few miles to the SE), but these are usually still larger sites of c. 26 ha (64 acres) with titulate gates and, at present, no other Stracathro camp has produced evidence for such a structure.

The geophysical survey scanned the camp's north-east corner, along with 124m and 258m (respectively) of the north and east ditches, which all lay on exactly the lines predicted by air photography.  The camp's east ditch intersects the south-west corner of the fort but, as it approaches, it becomes obscured by the fort's upcast mound and may well be overlain by it.  If so, the camp would be earlier in the sequence.  In the past it has been suggested that the camps outside a number of the glenblockers provided accommodation for the troops who built the forts, although they seem unduly large for the role, but this sequence might cast doubt on that theory as it seems improbable that the soldiers would have dug a fort ditch through their own, still occupied, camp.

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« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2007, 03:35:58 pm »


Two trenches were excavated on the camp defences.  In the west an attempt was made to determine which (or which combination) of the three possible ditch lines was the real camp ditch.  In the event, all three proved to be Roman military style, V shaped ditches and two had been re-cut.  No dating evidence was recovered to prove beyond doubt that all were indeed Roman, but it seems likely and, if so, they would suggest a complex occupation history, especially as temporary camps do not as a rule have fort-style, multiple ditch systems, so that it is unlikely that two or more of these cuts were ever in active use together.  On the other hand, the second trench, which investigated the possible annexe ditch, found it to be a natural feature.

The work also cast light on a number of non Roman periods.  The outermost camp ditch in the west had cut an earlier, flat bottomed ditch which did not appear likely to be Roman.  It might, instead, be an outwork of the nearby Dunmore hillfort.  Both trenches also produced plentiful evidence of post-Roman (probably 18th and early 19th century) metal working, with furnaces, iron blooms and furnace waste all appearing.  A series of early modern lime kilns were surveyed, as was a large, stone revetted, oval platform, in the centre of the camp, which had been cut into by (and so predated) the buildings of Bochastle farm, and may be a bank barn or a Medieval motte and bailey, similar to a number found elsewhere in the same glen in Perthshire.

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« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2007, 03:39:16 pm »



Woodhead
This site was (and to a degree remains), something of an enigma.  It stands atop a marked ridge just south of, but well above, the River Tay, near Wolfhill (NO 143346), and has a superb field of view which takes in some 30 km of the Highland fringe.  Air photography has revealed two distinct features on the site.  The first is an unenclosed settlement of probable Iron Age date (fig 5, arrows B), but it was the second, a double ditched enclosure (fig 5, A), that attracted the Project's attention, particularly during the 2005 flying season when it made a better than average showing.




Since the 1980s, the Gask frontier has been known to run from the fortlet of Glenbank in the south, to the fort of Bertha on the Tay: a run of c. 37 km.  But this has never seemed likely to be the whole story.  Glenbank seemed an unlikely spot for the system to stop and it is anyway more usual for Roman frontiers to end at forts rather than fortlets.  As a result, it seemed all but certain that more still awaited discovery in the south.  The northern end was more difficult to predict, since the Tay seemed a logical stop line and Bertha, as a fort, was a plausible terminus.  Nevertheless, there are additional forts beyond the river, leading far up Strathmore and there is also one more tower, at Black Hill.  This is probably close enough (1.5 km) to the fort of Cargill to be treated as a satellite but, if so, it would be unique in northern Scotland, thanks to growing doubts over what had been thought to be another satellite tower near Fendoch fort.  It might thus seem all the less likely to have stood alone.  As a result, the Gask Project has long been looking for evidence for additional sites at both ends of the established line.  We have in the past detected (but then rejected) a number of candidate ring features close to the Roman road in the south and have another under investigation at present, but Woodhead is the first we have considered in the north.



From air photographs the site scales off at around 26m in external diameter and its inner ditch is noticeably subrectangular, whilst the outer is more circular.  In other words, it bears a striking resemblance to the double ditched watchtowers at the southern end of the Gask line.  It also sits close to the line of a putative Roman road from Bertha, which is mentioned by 18th century antiquarians and marked on two 19th century maps of the area.  Moreover, its field of view might have been purposely chosen to allow signal communications via the visual techniques used by the Roman army.  For it has the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil, the key site of the entire northern occupation, in full view and is also intervisible with the tower at Black Hill, which could link it to the next fort to the north: Cargill.  Unfortunately, the Woodhead feature's identity could not be confirmed from aerial data alone, for the simple reason that it has never shown in its entirety.  The site stands close to the northern edge of a field and the plough headland interferes with cropmark formation.  As a result, no air photograph has revealed the northern side of the outer ditch and only one (CUCAP neg: DG63, of 1949) shows that of the inner ditch.  The southern section, visible on numerous air photographs, does not show the usual entrance break of a Roman tower and, although the Cambridge picture does reveal a narrow, c. 1.8m, break in the inner ditch at its closest point to the modern field boundary, the position with regards to the outer ditch was unknown.  As a result, although it remained possible that a full tower entrance lay in the missing northern section, there was no firm evidence either way.  In an attempt to learn more, the Project conducted a geophysical survey of the site.   However, although valuable information was gained, the results still retain something of the ambiguity of the aerial data.

The 2.3 acre survey revealed the entire circuit of both of the double feature's ditches, which allowed its size and shape to be determined with much greater accuracy.  Interestingly, both ditches produced high (rather than the normal low) resistance readings, but this is quite a common phenomenon in the area and has appeared on a number of previous Gask Project sites, where excavation has confirmed the cropmark evidence that the anomalies did indeed mark ditches and not more usual high resistance features, such as wall foundations.  One particularly marked case was the Gask tower of West Mains of Huntingtower and in all the examples met with to date, the explanation was that the ditches contained a high stone content, thanks to being used as stone dumps in the past.  In other words they were backfilled by being turned into what amount to inverted clearance cairns.

The outer ditch was a slightly subrectangular oval in shape: measuring 26.5m in external diameter from SW-NE, but 28m from NW-SE.  Its resistance plot is markedly more pronounced than that of the inner ditch, which suggests that it is both wider, at c. 2m (as opposed to c. 1m), and probably deeper.  The inner ditch was, as expected, significantly more subrectangular in plan, but it was also more uniform in diameter, at 15.5m all round.  The two were not exactly concentric, however, for the centre point of the inner ditch lay about 1m to the NE of that for the outer.  In the NNW, at the closest point to the modern field boundary, both ditches seem to show a narrow break, of around 1.5 - 2m for the inner ditch and 2.5m for the outer.  The former agrees well with the 1.8m break scaled off the 1949 Cambridge air photograph.  There was, however, a degree of interference from the field headland at this point, so that it was not possible to be absolutely certain that the breaks represent genuine archaeological features, and a higher resolution survey conducted the following day proved unhelpful thanks to waterlogging caused by heavy overnight rain.  As a result, the double ditched enclosure's identity remains frustratingly uncertain.  If it had been firmly shown to have entrance breaks in its ditches it would have seemed almost certain to be a Roman tower because, as mentioned, the rest of its morphology makes it a virtual double of the southernmost four towers on the Gask frontier.  All four of these sites have now been closely studied and all are known to have an almost identical configuration to Woodhead: with fairly circular outer ditches and subrectangular inner ones.  Their dimensions also match Woodhead almost exactly.
 
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Table 1   
Site Outer Ditch
diameter Inner ditch
diameter
Greenloaning Gask tower 24.70m   15.54m
Blackhill Wood Gask tower 24.83m 16.47m
Shielhill South Gask tower 25.55m 15.27m
Shielhill North Gask tower 24.00m 15.72m
Woodhead 26.50m 15.50m

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  Table 1 shows the comparison, and it can be seen that Woodhead's inner ditch falls perfectly into the range shown by the Gask towers, whilst its outer ditch is only outside that range by a matter of centimetres.  There are differences: for example the southern Gask tower inner ditches were more substantial than their outer ditches, whereas the situation at Woodhead is reversed.  Likewise, the possible entrance at Woodhead, if real, would be slightly narrower than the 3 - 3.5m entrances found on the Gask.  But these are largely matters of detail and certainly not enough to rule Woodhead out as a tower.  Of course it could be pointed out that the southern towers are a long way away (37.5 -  42km) and that the closer, more northerly, Gask towers are all single ditched.  Consequently, it might seem unlikely that a double ditched tower would be build so far north.  But there is evidence that the Gask was constructed as a series of individual building sectors in which installations with slightly different design traits were built by different military units (probably legions).  As on other Roman frontiers (e.g. the Antonine Wall) it is thus perfectly possible that the same unit may have built more than one sector: be it contemporaneously, or as part of a sequence, so that its particular building idiosyncrasies might be seen on widely separated parts of the same system.  Woodhead's field of view would also make it a perfect tower site, because of the possible signalling links already described and its superb potential as an observation post.  Nevertheless, the lack of certain proof for an entrance break in both ditches means that doubts must still remain and there are other site types that this could be.  One possibility is a Pictish barrow, and only excavation can answer the question with certainty.

Hopefully we will be able to conduct such work in the not too distant future, because the historical knowledge to be gained could have connotations well beyond the site itself.  At present, the pre and post-Roman Iron Age in this area is inadequately understood, and the prospect of studying both an unenclosed settlement and a possible Pictish monument together is highly attractive, especially if one proved to evolve from the other.  On the other hand, the potential ramifications of a confirmed Roman tower could be still greater, for it would radically change our understanding of the whole Gask system.  Woodhead lies far enough from a major garrison fort that such a small, lightly manned installation would be highly vulnerable.  Worse still, it could not see (and so directly signal to) the nearest major site: Cargill (which is closer and far more accessible than Inchtuthil) and, although, as stated, it could be linked to the fort via Black Hill (at a range of 5.5 km), this might be thought a somewhat tenuous connection on which to stake soldiers' lives.  If the site was a tower, therefore, it seems unlikely to have stood alone and its confirmation would thus be of major significance, because it would strongly imply that we should also be searching for others.  Moreover, the possibility of a Roman road, as claimed by earlier workers, might even argue for a continuation of the full Gask frontier system as far as Cargill, if not further, and the prospect of discovering 13 or more kilometres of new Roman frontier would be a major discovery which would dramatically alter our picture of late 1st-century Scotland.

The survey also covered part of the unenclosed settlement and the data, when combined with rectified air photographs, has allowed us to produce the first detailed plan of the site.  Parts of at least ten ring features were detected, most of which are likely to represent roundhouses.  Some overlap, however, and thus cannot be contemporary.  This is perfectly normal, and excavations on such sites often show that they actually represent a small number of structures which have been repeatedly rebuilt in slightly different positions, rather than a single contemporary concentration.  The Woodhead settlement may thus have been smaller than it appears, at any given time, but also, perhaps, rather longer lived.  The relationship between the unenclosed settlement and the possible tower remains ambiguous.  The latter's outer ditch certainly overlaps one of the ring features and, although it is always dangerous to draw stratigraphic conclusions from remote sensing data alone, the fact that the ring could not be traced across its interior might suggest that the double ditched enclosure came later.  Whatever the case, however, the evidence that the unenclosed settlement had at least a reasonably long life, means that a proven lack of contemporaneity between the possible tower and any one of its component structures does not rule out the possibility that it could still have coexisted with others and, again, only excavation could settle the matter beyond doubt.

 
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« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2007, 03:50:34 pm »

Air Photography
2006 was a curious, but exciting flying season.  An extremely dry summer produced what should have been ideal cropmark conditions, and in many areas this did indeed prove to be the case.  Certain sites showed in spectacular form: better than ever in the history of aerial observation.  Our old friend, the fort of Cardean, for example, produced an almost perfect plan with clear signs of structures all over its interior.  Better still, further external Iron Age features were revealed to add to the sites detected by earlier aerial work and our own geophysical survey.  For example, a 19th century report describes a souterrain to the east of the fort, although its exact location remained uncertain.  But the feature was clearly visible this summer and produced a considerable surprise, because our pictures show what appear to be two additional souterrains close by.  The fortress of Carpow, on the Tay/Earn confluence, showed almost as well, with the western defences making a rare appearance, and lines of internal postholes marking out the previously little understood barrack lines.  Elsewhere, large numbers of new native sites came to light for the first time, or showed previously unknown details, and a particular concentration was discovered around Coupar Angus, which extended the size of a previously known unenclosed settlement to the point where it could almost qualify as a town.  In other areas, however, we were given an excellent demonstration of how poorly the exact mechanisms of cropmark formation are currently understood.  For, despite what appeared to be equally ideal circumstances, almost nothing was visible even on sites that normally show in poor cropmark years.  Nevertheless, the harvest was still exceptional.  In all, 105 new sites were discovered, mostly as cropmarks, but with others appearing as shadow marks during a single winter flight in January.  Over 1,900 photographs were taken and most had been fully catalogued, digitised and mapped by the time of writing.



As in previous years, our flights were made from Scone airfield, and we are, as always, immensely grateful to Bill Fuller for volunteering his services as pilot.  Bill has also continued to work on creating a searchable computer database of all of our air photos to date, which will form a far more flexible means of access for outsiders to use than our present catalogue listing.  He has now nearly caught us up: no mean feat with an archive of over 10,000 pictures.  The considerable investment in new cameras made in 2004/5 has also paid off, with the technical quality of our images being noticeably improved over those produced by the already high quality equipment used previously.




Collaborations
The Gask Project has again been able to work with a number of other scholars to gain additional information from our own sites and those of others.  Dr's J. Huntley and S. Ramsay have continued to handle our environmental evidence.  Prof E. Mackie has analysed our querns and we have worked closely with geophysicists David Hodgson, Susie Moore and Peter Morris.  We have also worked with Gavin Lindsay, a final year student from the University of Durham, who has been producing computerised viewshed analyses of the fields of view of the Roman sites in the Gask area which have shone useful additional light on the rationale behind the layout of the system.  As in previous years, we have involved interested local people in our field work and quite a number of local volunteers helped with our excavation and survey at Bochastle.  We are also involving volunteers from a number of local historical societies in a new field and archive survey of the area around the legionary fortress of Inchtuthil (see below).



We have also begun two international collaborations, firstly with Perth's twin city, the Roman fort town of Aschaffenburg, on the German frontier and, secondly, with archaeologists working on the Dutch and German legionary fortresses of Nijmegan and Bonn.  More details are provided below.



Publications, Outreach and Publicity
As ever, the Directors have continued to give lectures to a variety of academic, student and amateur bodies: 20 in all this year and, as always, we have made particular efforts to respond positively to any requests to speak in Perthshire, with seven talks given there this year.  The latter seems only fair given the long term sponsorship we have received from the county, even though local societies cannot usually cover all of our travel expenses.  To get round this, we usually try to group the talks so that the costs are shared, or to schedule them to coincide with field or archive work in the area.  Elsewhere, both directors gave papers to the annual Roman Army School at the University of Durham and to the triennial, International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, which was held in the Spanish legionary fortress city of Lon in September.  David gave a paper to the Hadrian's Wall conference in South Shields, whilst Birgitta spoke in Aschaffenburg, in Germany and we have also spoken widely in other parts of Britain.  Media activity has also continued with Birgitta making another appearance on Time Team and David, a number of radio and newspaper interviews.

As always, 2006 has seen a number of Gask Project publications, of which the most important were two new books.  The first was a full length account of the archaeological evidence for the 1st century Roman occupation of Scotland north of the Forth and Clyde.  The last time this was done was in O.G.S. Crawford's much loved (if less than catchily titled) "Topography of Roman Scotland North of the Antonine Wall", published in 1949.  But a great deal of work has been done since, not least our own fieldwork and the explosion in aerial activity, so the book is now hopelessly out of date.  Our own book:  "Rome's First Frontier" (Tempus Books), takes a broadly similar approach to Crawford.  It tries to allow (indeed encourage) readers to form their own concept of events by keeping fact and interpretation as firmly apart as possible.  The first half provides a detailed, up to date and lavishly illustrated summary of all the currently available archaeological data but, whilst the second offers our own views on what this means, we hope that readers will use the information provided in the first section to argue with us and develop their own (hopefully better) interpretations.  So far the book seems to have been well received, with good sales and a number of glowing reviews: one called it a "masterpiece" and "epoch making".  Although one Agricola die-hard amused us by dismissing installations being rebuild from the ground up as "subtle readjustments".  Our sponsors the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust very kindly set it off to a good start by organising a launch party in Perth Library, accompanied by a lecture on Tacitus' place as a writer and orator by Birgitta.

The year also showed up one of the many advantages of the Project having a German speaking co-director.  For our second book, "Die Rmer in Schottland", is in German and stems from a collaboration we have begun with Aschaffenburg, as part of the city's twin town arrangement with Perth.  As both lie on Roman frontiers, the scope for archaeological co-operation is obvious, and the book was written to be published in association with an exhibition on our work in Aschaffenburg Museum this April, again launched with a lecture by Birgitta.  The book is not simply a German translation of the Tempus volume; it is a wholly different work which covers a wider geographical area and a longer time scale to give a broader brush account of the wider Roman occupation of Scotland as well as just the Gask.  The book was very nicely produced in full colour, although, thanks to an infuriating publisher's error, David's name was omitted from the by-line and the book was assigned to Birgitta only.

The year has also seen the publication of a number of academic papers.  David has published two on Roman/native relations: one in the proceedings of the last Roman Frontiers Congress, which was held in Hungary in 2003, and a second in the Hadrianic Bulletin.  Birgitta published her work on the effectiveness of Roman clay sling shots (as found during our work at Drumquhassle fort) in the Arbeia Journal; a study of Roman melon beads (a common find in the Gask area) in a book in honour of her former Ph.D supervisor; a study of the origins of Roman artefacts from native sites in the Gask area, in the Hadrianic Bulletin and a glass report for the Iron Age site of Aves Ditch.  On a more popular level, we also published an account of our East Coldoch native site excavations in "Current Archaeology".

A number of other papers have been readied for publication during the year.  A report on our Woodhead survey has been completed for the Hadrianic Bulletin and the Bochastle report now only awaits its specialist (mostly environmental) reports.  The latter will eventually appear alongside our other whole fort surveys in a book which we have agreed to produce for the British Archaeological Reports series.  Our Frontiers Congress papers will both appear in due course in the published proceedings, as will David's paper to the Hadrian's Wall conference, and Birgitta has submitted no less than five new glass reports.  She has also made a wholly new departure in taking over the editorship of the "Hadrianic Bulletin" which, despite its name, is a journal of Roman military studies, with an international distribution.  She has already presided over her first issue, which went out just before this was written and is currently involved in an energetic overhaul which is turning this formerly fairly sleepy periodical into a more thrusting, ISSN numbered and peer reviewed journal, hopefully without loosing its long tradition of accessibility to the non specialist.  As ever, our web site continues to be kept up to date and our Woodhead and interim Bochastle reports should go on line at the same time as this report.

When considering outreach it is easy to think just of training and fieldwork opportunities given, site tours and talks to local groups, but it is also worth mentioning the considerable time we spend in correspondence with local historians, students, school children (and their teachers) and just normal interested citizens who contact us for (or with) information, advice on their own projects, or when worried that building and other activities might impinge on historical remains.  This year has been particularly busy in this respect, including a positive deluge of messages from people worried about the prospect of quarrying near the famous Roman fort and temporary camps at Ardoch.

Sponsorship and Acknowledgements
The Project continued to be sponsored by the Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust, whose support has, as always, been indispensable and is very much appreciated.  In 2006 the Trust funded our air photographic flying program and the purchase of third party air photographs, along with the accommodation for the Woodhead survey, environmental work and a set of geological maps of the Gask area.  2006 was the final year of our current funding tranche from the Trust, but we have applied for a renewal and are living in hope of its being granted.

In addition to this long term funding, we have continued to attract one off grants for specific programs and this year's survey and excavation at Bochastle was funded by a generous award from the Roman Society.  We are grateful to our long standing corporate sponsor (which continues to insist on anonymity), which has again provided material support and we have also received a number of smaller donations from speaking engagements, voluntary bodies and private individuals and, as usual, the royalties from our new books will go to the Project.

Finally, the Project continues to owe thanks to the farmers and land owners who have allowed us access to sites, to Dr David Simpson, who again provided medical services during our fieldwork, and to Peter Green who has continued to do a wonderful job of maintaining our web site.  Tayflite Ltd let us play with their aeroplanes.  Mrs Hillary Fuller spoilt us rotten whenever we flew.  Andrew and Eleanor Graham once more provided our dig accommodation and we continue to receive much valuable help from the staff of the J.K. Bell Library whenever we use the Perth archives.  Finally, as always, we are grateful to our many field volunteers, especially our long-standing trench supervisor, Keith Miller, and his more recently acquired colleagues, Paul Murdoch, Lindsay Farquharson, Mark Sephton and geophysics supervisor Rachel Hunt.

The Future
So far, the Project has been organised in two five year phases, each of which has seen a distinct change in our research priorities.  This does not mean that we abandon previous interests, but it does keep things fresh and it ensures that we are constantly covering new ground and getting useful new angles, when it is all too easy for longer term research projects to become bogged down in minutiae.  For our first five years, we concentrated almost exclusively on the Gask fortifications and their history.  The last few years have seen a much greater emphasis on forts and on the native side of the equation and work on all of these areas will continue, but it is now time for another shift and we want our third phase to give more attention to a site that we have all but ignored up to now: the vast, 50 acre, legionary fortress of Inchtuthil.  This is, in many ways, the key site for the entire occupation, being the base of the only legion in the Gask area.  These wholly Roman citizen, heavy infantry units were the elite of the Roman army and, with an official strength of 5,500 men, this one unit accounted for around a third of the entire northern garrison.  Indeed, its vital role is amply demonstrated by the fact that the ultimate abandonment of the Scottish conquests in the mid 80s AD is thought to have been triggered by the withdrawal of a legion from Britain following a series of Roman defeats on the Danube.

The fortress itself, and the group of temporary camps and smaller fortifications around it, are at least reasonably well understood, thanks to aerial work and two excavation series, by Abercrombie and then Richmond in the 20th century.  We are thus not planning excavations of our own, at least unless some specific need arises, although we have combined the two existing excavation plans, something which oddly had never been done before.  But that still leaves plenty to do.  Firstly, the area immediately outside the defences has hardly been touched by excavation and does not respond well to aerial photography.  For example Abercrombie found two large rectangular stone buildings just east of the fortress and 18th century antiquarian accounts report the discovery of a bath building at some unknown point to the west of the site, none of which have ever shown from the air.  Consequently, there may well have been other external structures serving industrial and recreational functions, or even a civilian settlement.  The fortress itself is probably too large and too well known already to be worth a complete geophysical survey, but an external survey would thus appear to be very well worthwhile.



In many ways, however, the surrounding area might be a more rewarding study target than the fortress itself, for the coming of the legion will inevitably have had a considerable local impact.  We also need to know more about its ancient setting.  The site lies on a promontory just north of the Tay, but there is plentiful evidence that the river has shifted course many times and that it sometimes puts the fortress to its south.  There has obviously been at least one such change since the site was occupied, because the northern defences have been eroded away by the river, which has also left a series of oxbows around the promontory's west and north sides,  It is thus perfectly possible that the site was actually south of the Tay in Roman times and, even today, it can become an island when the river floods badly.  Indeed it is reported to be so as we write.  Obviously, it is difficult to gain a detailed understanding of the fortress' intended role without knowing where it was in relation to such a large river and the issue will also have relevance for the site's communications.  At present, strange as it may seem, no Roman road links have been traced to Inchtuthil, except for a relatively short length of road which runs north towards the quarries which produced the stone for its ramparts.  It seems unlikely that such a vital unit would really have been left cut off by road, and we have been searching for possible lines from the air for some time.  Without knowing which side of the river the site was originally built on, however, it is obviously much harder to know where to look.

More importantly, legions were usually assigned a territory (variously called a saltus, territorium or prata legionis,) around their base, whose agricultural, mineral and other resources were placed at the army's disposal.  This much is well understood, but we still know very little about how large these territories were; whether they were unified zones, or discontinuous blocks with specific essential resources, not to mention how they were organised and what impact they had on the local inhabitants.  We also have little idea of how soon after a legion's arrival they were established or how quickly their exploitation developed, and this is where Inchtuthil might have particular value, because it combines a short life span, with a largely non built-up modern environment, which should allow us to study the early stages of a legionary territory's development over a wide, clearly visible area.  As a result, we have already begun a study of the whole Inchtuthil region.  At present this has involved the start of a particularly intensive aerial survey of a zone within a 10 mile radius of the fortress, to look for differences in the population of native sites, and we are also studying the area's flooding and land use patterns, along with the availability of mineral deposits (especially metals), building stone and potting clays.  This work, especially the aerial side, will continue, but future seasons should also allow us to move on to field studies, such as fieldwalking and excavation and, of course, our possible tower at Woodhead is very much part of this study area.  Finally, Inchtuthil cannot be looked at in isolation as it was just one of many legionary fortresses set around the Empire as a whole.  As a result, the survey will have a firm international dimension, as we have already agreed to co-operate and exchange information with archaeologists planning similar work around the fortresses of Nijmegan in the Netherlands and Bonn in Germany, and we hope to involve others in the future.

In addition, 2007 should see another in our series of whole fort geophysical surveys and, at present, we have our eye on Bertha, just upstream of Perth on the Tay.  We are also hoping to excavate on that site, if consent can be obtained, and to run another dig to determine the relationship between the Gask frontier road and the huge Innerpeffray West temporary camp.  Our air photographic program will continue and we also hope to conduct geophysical work on a ring feature discovered at the southern end of the Gask during our 2006 flying season, which might be another tower candidate.

Out of the field, we plan to finish the Bochastle report and to prepare the final reports for our excavations on the tower at Garnhall, Glenbank fortlet and the East Coldoch native settlement.  The Directors will continue to give public lectures where invited.  Four have already been booked, along with further talks to the Roman Army School, and others will no doubt be scheduled as the year progresses.  We also plan to continue the association with Perth's twin town, Aschaffenburg, as comparative work between the Gask and the German frontier and the opportunity for the Project to compare notes with German scholars has real and obvious research potential beyond the diplomatic and public relations side of a town twinning arrangement.  It might also attract tourists to the Gask.  For 2007, Aschaffenburg have agreed to fund a field study of the likely signalling arrangements on the frontier around the town, which will make a useful comparison to our results on the Gask.  This is to be followed by an experimental demonstration of the signalling techniques and equipment used by the Roman army, which will be covered by German television.


D.J. Woolliscroft and B.Hoffmann
Directors:  The Roman Gask Project
SACE
University of Liverpool.
www.theromangaskproject.org.uk
 
 
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