NGRef: NX 735 645
OSMap: LR83/84
Probable Military Road: SW (11) to Gatehovse Of Fleet (Dumfries & Galloway)
Probable Military Road: NE (20) to Dalswinton (Dumfries & Galloway)

Loucovium - The Shining Place

The Glenlochar Fort

N.G.Ref Dimensions Area
NX735645 650 x 475 ft
(c.198 x 145 m)
c.7 acres
(c.2.87 ha)

Although it is certainly set in a picturesque spot, nothing visible remains of this fort and surrounding complex of camps except the fort platform itself, lying close to the east bank of the River Dee at the southern end of Loch Ken.

"The fourth summer [81AD] was spent in securing the ground hastily traversed ... the Clyde and the Forth ... was fortified during this summer with Roman garrisons, and the whole sweep of country to the south secured ..." (Tacitus Agricola XXIII.??)
The Glenlochar Fort Site
viewed from across the River Dee to the west

The large fort at Glenlochar on the River Dee north-east of Castle Douglas was very likely established during the summer campaigns of 80/81AD by the intrepid Roman governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Excavations have revealed two periods of occupation during the first century. It appears that the fort was rebuilt c.90AD during the strategic evacuation of Highland Scotland following the withdrawal from Britain of many troops for use in Domitian's Germanic Wars. The fort was probably abandoned a short time after it was rebuilt, certainly by the turn of the second century when the Roman frontier in the province had been pulled-back to the Stanegate in northern England.

The fort measures 650 by 475 ft. over the ramparts and encloses an area of 7 acres (198 x 145 m; 2.87 ha). Defenses consist of a wide rampart fronted by three ditches, with well-rounded corner-angles, and causeways across the ditches and gateways in each side. The large ravelin between the outer and middle ditches was filled with pits at regular (c.5 ft..) intervals, evidently a defensive measure such as the cippi or lilia outlined by Caesar. Several of the fort's internal structures, including the principia, praetorium, granaries and internal roads, also rectangular structures which may be barracks stables, workshops or sheds. There are five such blocks to either side of the via praetoria in the praetentura and three more to either side of the va decumana in the retentura. This information allows us to ascertain that the fort faced west. Without the benefit of excavation the functiuon of these buildings cannot be proven, but as the surrounding countryside is not suitable for cavalry operations it is fairly certain that the fort housed a milliary cohort of foot-soldiers. There is a large annexe attached to the north side of the fort, again protected by a triple ditch system, but traces of another ditch NW of the fort is thought to indicate previous occupation of the site perhaps a Flavian fort replaced by another on a different alignment during Antonine times; again, excavation is needed here to reveal the sequence of events. The only decorated ware recovered from Glenlochar is a single piece of Form 18 samian, which cannot be closely dated.

The Temporary Marching Camps

There are six temporary marching camps in the immediate vicinity of the Auxiliary Fort, two to the north, three to the east and another one to the south; all are documented on a separate page dedicated to the Glenlochar Camps.

Other Sites of Interest

Aside from the Roman military installations which remain invisible to the casual visitor, there are a number of additional sites of interest in the immediate area belonging other times and cultures:

See: Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.60-1;
Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1955-7 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlviii (1958) p.89;
Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1961-64 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lv (1965) pp.79/80;
The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia III (1972) pp.1-55;
Agricola by Cornelius Tacitus, translated by M. Hutton (Loeb, Harvard, 1914, revised 1970).
Link to maps of the area from: StreetMap Old-Maps MultiMap
Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: LOVCOVIVM"