Searching for a Lost Roman Fort in Scotland

From the Courier, which seems to have the fullest quotations:

Many people wrongly believe the Romans never ventured further north than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall, according to archaeologists.

However, evidence shows that they marched as far north as Elgin and a network of forts between Stirling and Stracathro, near Brechin, suggests they were based in Scotland for some time.

The forts form part of Rome’s oldest land frontier known as the Gask Ridge, but archaeologists believe one of the forts is “missing”.

The elusive fort is believed to be located somewhere in the Angus and Aberdeenshire countryside, and work will begin this week to try to find it.

Birgitta Hoffmann, co-director of the Roman Gask Project, based at the University of Liverpool, will lead a team of volunteers hunting for what would be the first major find north of the Antonine Wall in around 30 years.

Dr Hoffmann said: “We came last year to investigate Scotland’s most northerly Roman fort, but now we’re back looking for the lost fort.

“We’re not sure what exactly we’ll find, but we’re hoping to find something, and if it is a Roman fort, it will help to complete our understanding of the Romans in Scotland.

“We know they built forts as far north as Brechin, and we even have evidence that they marched as far as Elgin, but that’s it, but we think there’s much more than that.

“The problem is that they weren’t around long enough to build buildings out of stone – instead they used timber and turf which tends to disappear over time – so instead of just looking for lumps and bumps in the ground, we have to look at the local geography, old settlements, and a host of other evidence which will help us to pinpoint likely sites.

“People are always surprised when I tell them about the Roman occupation of the area. They think the Romans never got any further than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian’s Wall which simply isn’t true. The truth is, we don’t know how far north they got, but we’re hoping that the work of the Roman Gask Project will change that this year.”

The Roman Gask Project has an interesting series of background papers, among other info …

Douglas MacDowell’s Classical Legacy

University of Glasgow's Crest
Image via Wikipedia

Tip o’ the pileus to Tim Parkin for this one from the Glasgow Herald, but which appears to be only available from for some reason; I don’t think we had an obituary for Dr MacDowell:

AN esteemed professor has stunned the Scottish academic world by leaving a pound(s)2 million fortune to the institution where he worked for 30 years.

Professor Douglas MacDowell left the money in his will to Glasgow University on the basis that it is used to reintroduce his old position of Professorship of Greek

The job was mothballed when he stepped down nine years ago after serving the longest period in office of any Glasgow Professor of Greek since 1877.

Professor MacDowell died in hospital of renal failure aged 78 in January this year but the details of his will totalling pound(s)2,157,176.28 have just been revealed.

As well as expressing shock at the reportedly modest-living professor’s wealth, classics experts say the return of the post will be a welcome boost.

MacDowell is credited with establishing the Greek department’s reputation as one of the most revered seats of learning anywhere in the world.

Alan Milligan, 53, classics teacher at the High School of Glasgow, and his wife Dr Susan Milligan, 51, from the Classical Association of Scotland, both studied under the professor.

Mr Milligan said: “It’s one of the oldest chairs at Glasgow University. It will be great to have that tradition kept up.”

Dr Milligan said: “It will give the subject a great boost. It never stopped being taught but there wasn’t a specific chair of it.

“He was absolutely dedicated and was a superb teacher and a scholar who published prolifically. He was a quiet person, very thoughtful.

“He was very precise and had a terrific sense of humour. Nobody would have guessed he had a huge amount of wealth. It’s typical of him it has only come out after his death.”

An only child who never married, London-born MacDowell lived a modest lifestyle in a pound(s)100,000 flat in Glasgow’s Byres Road. He drove a pound(s)1228 Daihatsu hatchback car and his furniture and personal belongings were valued at pound(s)2767 after his death.

He also had a stamp collection worth pound(s)900 but the bulk of his riches were made up of stocks and shares including pound(s)115,000 of BP shares and pound(s)82,000 of shares in mining giants Rio Tinto.

However, in his obituary published in The Herald in February it was noted: “More than one impoverished postgraduate student benefited financially from his generosity.”

He left pound(s)90,000 to friends and pound(s)10,000 to the National Trust for Scotland.

Though the university refused to comment officially, one university source said: “This is a wonderful gesture from Professor MacDowell and has taken everyone by surprise.

“After he stood down as the Professor of Greek the position was frozen and not readvertised.

“I think he felt very passionately that it should be reinstated.

“Discussions are currently ongoing between solicitors handling his estate and the university to decide if and how the wishes in his will can be implemented.”