Early Scotland – Years 84 to 1263

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Thu, 2010-01-14

  1. Mons Graupius (84)
  2. Nechtansmere (685)
  3. Carham (1018)
  4. Largs (1263)

Early Scotland: 55 BC – 368 AD – THE COMING OF THE ROMANS

After successfully invading the south of England from 55 BC. The Romans moved north building forts at strategic positions and crushing any opposition along the way, and in around 79 AD the Romans crossed into Scotland, but did not expect the Caledonians – as the Romans called them – with a major fortress called Alcluyd at Dumbarton Rock, resisted the Roman advance.

The Romans tried again to invade Scotland in 82 AD but were held back again by the Caledonians and also in 83 AD but this time the Caledonians wiped out the whole 9th Roman Legion, probably in Galloway. The Caledonians proved to be a force that the Romans had never encountered before.

At the Battle of Mons Graupius (84 AD) the Caledonians suffered a terrible defeat. Their chief Calgacus was slain at the battle, alone with 10,000 of his men, while the Roman losses were less than 1,000. Although this defeat was a major setback for the Caledonian tribes, the Romans found it difficult to consolidate their victory.

The northern Caledonian tribes could not be defeated and they continued to be troublesome eventually pushing the Romans back to England. To hold there ground Emperor Hadrian had a wall built to keep the Caledonians from attacking the Roman province of Britain (England). Hadrians Wall stretched across the country, from Newcastle on the east of England, to Bowness on the southern shore of the Solway Firth. The wall was built from stone, and had many forts and outpost built along it’s length. Many parts of the wall can still be seen today.

The Romans tried to invade Scotland again in 139 AD. This time they managed to advance 100 miles into Scotland and had another wall built across the country, Antonine’s Wall runs between the River Forth on the east and the River Clyde on the west, to try and keep there hold on Southern Scotland. However, they were soon pushed back into England, despite the efforts of the 2nd, 6th and 20th Legions to provide the Emperor with victory.

The Romans were not used to defeat, for after conquering most of Europe, Scotland was the only country left to conquer. In 208 AD the Romans advanced into Scotland once again, and were attacked once again by the Caledonian tribes. The Roman forces were harried relentlessly and soon forced to retreat.

The best surviving section of Antonine’s Wall is at Rough Castle near Falkirk.

The Romans never tried to conquer Scotland again. The Romans had control of England for 400 years. After the withdrawal of the Romans in 368 BC, the Caledonian tribes attacked the south, ravaged England and plundered London of it’s riches.

Little of Roman culture or influence survived in Scotland.

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