NGRef: NX1999
OSMap: LR76
Type: Camp

Roads
None identified

The Girvan Mains Temporary Camps

N.G.Ref Dimensions Area Description
Girvan Mains 1 - (East)
NX192992 1,300 x 1,230 ft
(396 x 375 m)
36¾ acres
(14.85 ha)
Discovered from the air in 1976, this camp was investigated on the ground in advance of road construction in 1983. The south side lay close along the shore of the Girvan Water and sadly, the south-west corner-angle and part of the south side have been lost to erosion. This gives the camp an almost square outline with the north-south dimension being slightly the greater.
Girvan Mains 2 - (West)
NX188991 700+ x 450+ ft
(213+ x 137+ m)
c.51 acres
(c.21 ha)
Discovered from the air and investigated on the ground in 1981, this camp was found to possess a typical Roman military V-shaped ditch about 4¼ ft. (1.3 m) wide with a drainage slot in the bottom. A fragment of a glass jug-handle found in the ditch is probably of first-century date.

Given thier location, on the north bank of the Water of Girvan near its mouth, it would appear that these camps were part of the military operation directed against the Novantae tribe of the Galloway peninsula by the energetic Roman governor Julius Agricola c.A.D.81. If the intention had been to mount an offensive towards the north it would be more advantageous to have encamped to the south of the Girvan, in both scenarios the river being used as a defensive barrier. It is possible that camps did once exist to the south of the river-mouth with all evidence of their existence obliterated by the town of Girvan, but this is just speculation.

Either way, with no evidence of Roman roads anywhere in the local area, it is most likely that these large encampments were established and supplied by use of the British Fleet, the Classis Britannica, operating out of a base (or bases) situated somewhere along the Cumbrian coast of north-west England, perhaps Gabrosentum or Alauna Carvetiorum.

Bibliography and Links

See: Britannia xiii (1982) p.339;
Britannia xiv (1983) p.289;
Britannia xv (1984) p.276;
Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987) pp.34/5;
Britannia xxii (1991) p.230;
Britannia xxv (1994) p.257 & fig.7 p.259;
Britannia xxvii (1996) p.401.
Girvan Mains, East Camp from the RCAHMS
Girvan Mains, West Camp from the RCAHMS
Girvan Mains, East Camp from WoSAS
Girvan Mains, West Camp from WoSAS
WoSAS Sites and Monuments Record
Link to maps of the area from: StreetMap Old-Maps MultiMap