NGRef: NS5871
OSMap: LR64
Type: Antonine Wall Fort, Fort, Camp

Roads
Antonine Wall: E (1) to Wilderness Plantation (Strathclyde)
Antonine Wall: W (2.5) to Svmmerston (Strathclyde)
Probable Road: SE (13) to Bothwellhavgh (Strathclyde)

The Balmuildy Antonine Fort

Building Dedication from the North Gateway of the Fort

IMP C T AEL HADR ANTONINO AVG PIO P P LEG II AVG FEC SVB Q LOLLIO VRBICO LEG AVG PR PR

"Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, the Second Augustan Legion made this under Quintus Lollius Urbicus, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor."

(RIB 2192; five slab fragments; dated 139-143AD; restored)

"Balmuildy (Fig. 9) is a squarish oblong fort of nearly 3¼ acres, attached to the Antonine Wall. It has three ditches on the south and west, two on the east, where there is an annexe ; a berm of 20 to 30 feet ; and a composite rampart consisting of a stone revetment 7½ feet thick at the base and an earth bank, perhaps 20 feet wide. At the north-east and north-west corners expansions 4 to 5 feet wide have been added to the stone revetment, evidently platforms for artillery ; at the free southern corners were ordinary stone corner towers. The four gates were single, about 12 feet wide, with guard-chambers. In the middle was a range of stone buildings : headquarters, two granaries, commandant's house ; and to north and south were wooden barracks, thought to have been designed for a cohors quingenaria peditata. A bath-building was crowded up close inside the eastern rampart ; there was another in the annexe." (Collingwood, p.47)

The fort at Balmuildy was excavated in 1912-14 and is one of several - including Castlecary and Rough Castle - which show signs of devastation during the middle of the second century. The defences measure about 440 ft. from north-to south by 400 ft. east-west (c.134 x 122 m) enclosing an occupation area of almost exactly 4 acres (c.1.6 ha), with battlements made of stone, not the usual turf or clay. The gateways on the north and south are placed centrally in their sides and those in the east and west are displaced slightly to the north. There are two bath-houses at Balmuildy, one inside the north-east corner of the fort running alongside the eastern rampart and another ouside the south-east corner within the eastern annexe.

There is a marked change in direction of the Antonine Rampart Wall at Balmuildy, where, after overlooking the River Kelvin from the south for some distance to the east, the Wall here crossed the stream just to the north-west of the fort and continued north-westward for almost a mile before turning west once more. The nearby temporary marching camp at Buchley (NS5872) lies to the north-east of the Balmuildy fort, in the angle thus formed by the Wall to north of the defences.

The Pottery and Coinage Evidence

Sixteen coins have been found within the Balmuildy fort, ranging from a denarius of Vitellius found in the principia west wing, to a radiate of Decius from the Milan mint and dated 249-51AD. Other Roman coins include 5 issues of Hadrian, 4 of Antoninus Pius, 2 each of Domitian and Trajan, also another much-worn and corroded denarius, possibly of Mark Antony, found on the floor of the aedes in the principia.

A total of 23 identifiable potters stamps have been recovered from the Balmuildy fort, all dated to the Antonine period. The first-century bronze coins along with possible 'pre-Hadrianic' pottery may point to a foundation date for the Balmuildy fort sometime during the campaigns of Gnaeus Julius Agricola.

The Roman Military Garrison

Building Dedication from a Balmuildy Byre

IMP C T AEL HADR ANTONINO AVG PIO P P LEG II AVG SVB Q LOLLIO VRBICO LEG AVG PR PR FEC

"For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, the Second Augustan Legion under Quintus Lollius Urbicus, the pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, have made this."

(RIB 2191; part of slab; dated 139-143AD; restored)

The Epigraphic Evidence

There are six inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Balmuildy, four dedicatory building inscriptions and two altarstones. The four building inscriptions are important as they may be used to firmly attribute the fort and the rampart wall to the emperor Antoninus Pius, two of them naming his governor in the province, Quintus Lollius Urbicus. The first to be discovered was an Antonine distance slab from the rampart wall found broken in two in 1694 near Summerston Farm, about ¼-mile north-west of the fort (RIB 2193). In 1698 the bottom-left part of a slab was found built into a Balmuildy byre, the text of which could be easily restored (RIB 2191); it is possible that it once came from one of the fort gateways. In 1803 another tablet broken in two was found on East Millichen Farm, ½ mile north-west of the fort (RIB 2194), and once stood beside #2193 on the rampart wall. Finally, in 1912, five fragments of a dedication slab were found before the north gateway of the fort (RIB 2192) the text of which closely resembled that of #2191 and is again easily restored. All of these stones are kept in the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, apart from #2194 which is in the Glasgow City Art Gallery. The texts of all these inscriptions are given and translated on this page.

Distance Slab from Summerston Farm

IMP CΛES TITO AELIO HADRIANO ANTONINO AVG PIO P P LEG II ΛVG PEP M P III DC LXVI S

"For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Pater Patriae, the Second Augustan Legion. For three-thousand six-hundred and sixty-six and a half feet [of the rampart wall]."

(RIB 2193; broken tablet; dated 139-161AD)

Distance Slab from East Millichen Farm

IMP CAES T AELIO HADRI ANTONINO AVG PIO P P VEXILLA LEG VI VIC P F PER M P III DCLXVI S

"For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Pater Patriae, a detachment of the Sixth Victorious Legion, Loyal and Faithful. For three-thousand six-hundred and sixty-six and a half feet [of the rampart wall]."

(RIB 2194; broken tablet; dated 139-161AD)

Religion at Roman Balmuildy

There are two altarstones from Balmuildy; an altar with a damaged capital dedicated to the goddess Fortune found in 1913 within the bath-house in the NE corner of the fort (RIB 2189), and another to Mars of which only four fragments survive, found in 1914 in the south-east annexe along with with broken statues of Mars & Victory (RIB 2190). Both stones now reside in the Hunterian Museum.

Altarstone to Fortuna

DEAE FORTVNAE CAECILIVS NEPOS TRIB

"To the goddess Fortune, the tribune Caecilius Nepos [dedicates this]."

(RIB 2189; damaged altarstone)

Stone Dedicated to Mars

DEO MARTI SANCTO...

"For the holy god Mars [...]"

(RIB 2190; fragmentary altarstone)

See: The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930);
The Roman Wall in Scotland by Sir George MacDonald (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1934) pp.312-324;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
A Survey of the Coin Finds from the Antonine Wall by Richard Abdy in Britannia xxxiii (2002) pp.189-217;
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.