Roman Sites in Scotland

Bar Hill Fort

Bar Hill Roman Fort lies near the top of Bar Hill, in a strategic location looking north over the Kelvin Valley to the Campsie Fells. It was built as one of the forts housing troops manning the Antonine Wall, which was for a while the north-west frontier of a Roman Empire. Along with Rough Castle near Falkirk, it is one of the two best locations along the Antonine Wall to gain a real impression of what the wall was like, ...
Founded: 142-144 AD | Location: Twechar, United Kingdom

Rough Castle Fort

Rough Castle Fort is a Roman fort on the Antonine Wall. The wall was built around 143 AD and stretched from Bo"ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. The fort is the best preserved of the 19 forts constructed along the length of the Wall. Built against the southern rear face of the Wall, the fort was defended by 6 metre thick turf ramparts and surrounded by defensive ditches. Gateways were prov ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Falkirk, United Kingdom

Bearsden Roman Baths

Bearsden's Roman Baths can be found a couple of hundred yards east, or downhill, along Roman Road from Bearsden Cross, the centre of the town. A gate in a low stone wall on your left gives access to a remarkable example of the survival of ancient archeological remains despite later development. It was part of the Antonine Wall built between AD 142 to 144. One of wall forts was sited in what is today called Bearsden. Antiq ...
Founded: 142-144 AD | Location: Bearsden, United Kingdom

Watling Lodge

Watling Lodge is perhaps the best-preserved section of Roman Antonine Wall ditch. It can be viewed to both the east and west of Watling Lodge along Tamfourhill Road in Falkirk. Here the ditch has survived to almost its original dimensions, giving the best view of how it may have looked in Roman times. Near this portion of ditch, in the garden of Watling Lodge was an Antonine Wall fortlet, but no visible traces survive. A ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Falkirk, United Kingdom

Croy Hill

On a high plateau on the east side of Croy Hill, North Lanarkshire, is the site of a Roman fort and probable temporary camp on the Antonine Wall. The fort, fortlet, and temporary camp are not visible on the ground today, but the Antonine Wall ditch is easily identifiable across much of Croy Hill. You can see where the Romans had to cut through solid rock to create the ditch. Two small raised platforms known as ‘expa ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: North Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Seabegs Wood

Seabegs Wood is a woodland offering impressive views of the Antonine Wall ditch and rampart, and is also important as the site of a Roman fortlet. It is also the best place to see the visible remains of the military way, the Roman road that connected all of the forts along the Antonine Wall. The military way is located about 30m south of the Antonine Wall rampart, and can be traced as a 7m-wide cambered mound with a visib ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Bonnybridge, United Kingdom

Castlecary Roman Fort

Castlecary is like many other settlements in the area tied to the Roman history of Scotland. The route of the Antonine Wall passes close to the village. A Roman camp existed at Castlecary, first constructed around the year 80 AD, possibly during the fourth campaign season of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Excavated in 1902, the Roman fort was probably devastated by the 2nd century. Castlecary is one of only two forts a ...
Founded: 80 AD | Location: Castlecary, United Kingdom

Westerwood Roman Fort

At the west end of Cumbernauld Airport runway is the site of a Roman fort on the former Westerwood farm. Very little is visible on the ground today, but portions of the fort’s southern defensive ditches may be traced as subtle hollows within the field. The fort at Westerwood is the fourth smallest known along the Antonine Wall, with an internal area of about 0.8ha, situated on a steep decline toward the north. The ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: North Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.