NGRef: NS9179
OSMap: LR65
Type: Fort, Camp

Roads
Antonine Wall: W (2.25) to Falkirk (Central)
Antonine Wall: E (4) to Kinneil (Central)

First-century bronze coins - usually in circulation for only a short period - have been turned up at Mumrills, along with pre-Hadrianic pottery. Though unsupported by structural evidence, these finds may indicate that the site was first occupied by the Roman military during the campaigns of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola sometime around 81AD. This hypothesis cannot currently be proven.

Mumrills is the largest known fort on the Antonine Wall, measuring internally 577 ft. east-west by 492 ft. north-south (c.176 x 150 m), with an occupation area just over 6½ acres (c.2.6 ha). There were three or four ditches on the west, two on the east, a single ditch to the south and the rampart wall formed the northern defences of the fort which was here built upon a stone base or 'cradle' 15 feet (c.4.6 m) wide, faced at front with blocks of clay and at the rear with rammed-earth; the ramparts of the fort itself were built of laminated layers of clay blocks set upon a stone raft about 12½ ft. (3.8 m) wide.

There are two temporary marching camps nearby at Little Kerse (NS9478) and Polmonthill (NS9478), and another close by the Mumrills fort (NS9279; vide infra), and at least two others further east at Inveravon (NS9679).

The Suspected Marching Camp at Mumrills

"On the highest point of the ridge that runs east from the fort at Mumrills, and 500 ft. from the fort, a small camp has been identified (NS 920793). The south side has been eroded but the whole of the north side and most of the east and west sides remain, with a gate in each. The camp measures 140 ft. from east to west ; it may well have been a practice work." (St. Joseph, 1958)

Epigraphic Evidence from the Mumrills Fort

Three inscriptions on stone are recorded in the R.I.B. for Mumrills, all of which are shown and translated on this page.

Ala Primae Tungrorum - The First Wing of Tungri

HERCVLI MAGVSAN SACRVM VAL NIGRINVS DVPLI ALAE TVNGRORVM

"To holy Hercules Magusan,¹ Valerius Nigrinus, Duplicarius² of the [First] Tungrian Wing³ [dedicates this]."

(RIB 2140; altarstone)

  1. Hercules or Herakles was a Greek hero and minor deity immortalized by the Olympian gods. The surname Magusan is unknown elsewhere in Britain, and is possibly the name of a Gallo-Belgic minor deity possessing the same qualities as his heroic Greek counterpart.
  2. A duplicarius was a long-serving trooper on double salary.
  3. The Ala Primae Tungrorum were a five-hundred strong auxiliary cavalry unit recruited from among the Tungri tribesmen of eastern Belgica. They were probably the first unit to be stationed here.

Altarstone to the Mother Goddesses of the Standards?

CASSIVS SIGN MATRIBVS

"Cassius [dedicates this altarstone] to the Standards and the Mother goddesses."

(RIB 2141; altarstone)

  1. An alternate translation for this inscription could be: "Cassius the Standard-Bearer [makes this offering] to the Mother goddesses.".

Cohors Secundae Thracum - The Second Cohort of Thracians

DIS M NECTOVELIVS F VINDICIS AN IXXX STIP VIIII NATIONIS BRIGANS MILITAVIT IN COH II THR

"To the spirits of the departed and Nectovelius, son of Vindex, twenty-nine years old with nine years service, a citizen of the Brigantes¹ serving in the Second Cohort of Thracians.²"

(RIB 2142; tombstone)

  1. The Brigantes were a populous tribe from Northern England. This is an important inscription because it shows that native Britons were recruited to serve among the auxiliary units originally brought to Britain from the continent.
  2. Cohors Secundae Thracum were an auxiliary infantry regiment drafted from among the various tribes of Thrace, who occupied the region mostly within the modern country of Bulgaria, along with northern Greece and western Turkey north of the Bosporus.

Roman Finds and Dating Evidence

During excavations over the years at the Mumrills fort a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of Ox, Sheep, Pig, Red Deer and Wolf; the latter animal very likely being hunted and killed for sport and as a means of pest control. The soldiers' diet was also augmented by shellfish, as evidenced by shells of Oyster and Whelk found in quantity.

There is plenty of evidence to support an occupation during the Antonine period in the form of pottery bearing the stamps of Creciro Form 31 late-Hadrianic, Avitus Form 31 c.125-145AD, Calvinus Form 31 early/mid-Antonine, and the stamps of 39 other Antonine potters.

In all, 39 coins have been recovered form the environs of the Mumrills fort, ranging from 2 denarii of Mark Antony to a single denarius of Faustina II dated c.161-75AD, also including 10 coins of Hadrian, 7 of Antoninus Pius, 5 of Trajan and another 5 unclassified.

See: The Roman Wall in Scotland by Sir George MacDonald (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1934) pp.194-214;
Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1955-7 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlviii (1958) p.89;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia II (1971) pp.122-142;
The Roman Occupations of Scotland by B.R. Hartley in Britannia iii (1972) pp.1-55;
Britannia xiv (1983) p.288;
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.