NGRef: NS7376
OSMap: LR64
Type: Minor Settlement, Antonine Wall Fort, Fort, Fortlet, Camp

Roads
Antonine Wall: W (2) to Bar Hill (Strathclyde)
Antonine Wall: E (2) to Westerwood (Strathclyde)

Roman Encampments at Croy Hill

The Antonine Wall Fort

Croy Hill was excavated in 1920, 1931, 1935 and 1975-8. The Antonine fort measures about 270 ft. north-south by 243 ft. east-west (82 x 74 m), covering an area of just 1½ acres (0.6 ha). The Antonine Wall formed the north-western defences of the fort where its stone base maintains its usual width of about 16 ft. (4.9 m) topped by a turf rampart, whereas on the other three sides the stone base was as much as 20 ft. (6 m) in width. The entrances in the north-west and south-east sides are both displaced slightly to the south-west, while the gates in the north-east and south-west sides, which permitted the Military Way through the camp, were displaced slightly to the north-west. The fort is protected by three ditches on the south-western side, two around the southern corner-angle and three outside the south-east gate; the remaining ditch system is unrecorded (source 1930).

There is a large, rectangular well set in the northern corner-angle of the fort and a long, rectangular bath-house measuring 67 feet by 12 (20.5 x 3.7 m) lies outside the same corner, its major axis running parallel with the Antonine rampart wall.

Croy Hill is the only place along the Wall where the ditch fronting the rampart was not dug, the hard basalt and dolerite of the hill being almost impervious to the tools the legionaries used. Also of note are two rearward expansions of the Wall on the western slope of Croy Hill - several of which are known along the length of the Antonine barrier - added to the rampart wall at a slightly later period. The reason for these extensions to the wall has long been surmised:

"Sir George Macdonald points out to me that or the most part the forts lie in sight of their next neighbours, so that, as a rule, intermediate signalling-posts are not needed; but that the Croy Hill expansions occur precisely where such posts were necessary to maintain communication between the forts of Croy Hill and Bar Hill." (Collingwood, p.88)

The Supposed Agricolan Fortlet

Exploratory work in 1931 uncovered a camp lying beneath the Antonine fortifications which was attributed to the governor Julius Agricola purely on the strength of a passage in Tacitus' Agricola (XXIII.i; see Mollins); no corroborative dating evidence has yet come to light.

The earlier camp consists of two enclosures, a rectangular enclosure to the north measuring about 220 ft. SSE-NNW by 160 ft. (67 x 49 m) transversely, thus covering an area of just over ¾- acre (0.3 ha). This was joined to the south by an 'annexe' which was formed by a continuation of the SW defences for a further ft. before making a right angle curve and continuing for roughly the same distance before curving gradually around to eventually connect with the eastern corner angle of the original rectangular camp, an entrance gap being situated in the last section of the defences just described. This annexe more than doubled the available area.

The fortlet lying beneath the Antonine fort at Croy Hill, and another at Bar Hill, are now thought not to be Agricolan.

Dateable Pottery Evidence

No decorated pottery from either the Central or Southern Gaulish factories has been recovered from the environs of the Croy Hill Antonine fort. This makes accurate identification of the occupation phase(s) very difficult.

The Numismatic Evidence

Only four coins have een recovered from the environs of the fort, a heat-deformed denarius of Domitian, a denarius and a sestertius of Trajan and a fragment of a Hadrianic as.

Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

There are two temporary marching camps nearby at Dullatur (NS7476).

Roman Military Units at Croy Hill

Legio Sextae Victrix Pia Fidelis
The Sixth Victorious Legion Loyal and Faithful

NYMPHIS VEXILLATIO LEG VI VIC P F SVB FABIO LIBERALI TRIB MIL VSLM

"For the Nymphs,¹ a detachment of the Sixth Victorious Legion Loyal and Faithful under [the command] of the military tribune Fabius Liberalis, willingly and deservedly fulfill their vow."

(RIB 2160; altarstone)

There are seven inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Croy Hill, four of which mention the Sixth Legion, and a fifth possibly mentions a centurion of the unit. The Sixth normally garrisoned the fortress at Eburacum (York), and evidently, the emperor Antoninus Pius used a number of cohorts from this legion to garrison some of the strategic parts of his northern fortification. The finding of an altarstone dedicated by a tribune of the Sixth (vide supra) very likely means that a cohort from this legion were quartered here at the Croy Hill fort.

Cohort and Centurial Stones from Croy Hill

LEG VI VIC P F LEG VI LEG VI VIC P F F > GLICONIS ABRVCIVS

"Legio Sextae Victrix Pia Fidelis."

"The Sixth Legion."

"The Sixth Legion Loyal and Faithful made this."

"The century of Gliconius Abrucius [made this]."

(RIB 2161)

(RIB 2162)

(RIB 2163)

(RIB 2164)

Altar to the God Jupiter

I O M DOLICHENO ...

"To Jupiter Best and Greatest of Doliche,¹ [...]"

(RIB 2158; relief of Jupiter)

  1. Jupiter was the head of the Roman pantheon who had a magnificent temple dedicated to him at Doliche in Syria, hence the epithet.

Besides the Altar to the Nymphs dedicated by the Sixth Legion (vide RIB 2160 supra), there is in addition a partial inscription from a statuette of Jupiter (vide supra) and another damaged altarstone dedicated to the Roman war god Mars (vide infra).

Altar to the God Mars

MARTI G D... B... V S

"To Mars. G[aius D... B...] fulfills a vow."

(RIB 2159; 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.258-71;
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;
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.