NGRef: !NS 76070 77353
OSMap: LR64
Type: Antonine Wall Fort, Fort, Camp
Antonine Wall: E (2.5) to Castlecary (Central)
Antonine Wall: W (2) to Croy Hill (Strathclyde)

The Westerwood Antonine Wall Fort

Westerwood was excavated in 1932, 1974 and 1985-8. The fort measures 300 ft. north-south by 280 ft. east-west (91 x 85 m) and covers an area of just under 2 acres (0.78 ha). The northern defences were formed by the rampart wall and ditch of the Antonine Wall, the rampart on the other three sides were of turf set upon a stone foundation generally 16 ft. (4.9 m) wide except at the south-east where it was only 14 ft. (c.4.3 m) in width, fronted by two ditches on all sides except on the extreme NW where there were three. The entrances in the north and south sides are both more-or-less centrally placed, but the gates in the east and west sides, through which ran the Military Way behind the wall, were displaced to the north about a third of the distance from the rampart wall.

Only two coins have been recovered from the area, a sestertius of Galba (reputedly from the site of the fort) and a denarius of Hadrian found on the Military Way near Arniebog in 1866.

There are two temporary camps nearby at Garnhall (NS7877) and another one at Tollpark (NS7777).

Altar to Silvanus and the Heavens

Image kindly provided by James Walker who found the altar

"To holy Silvanus and the four corners of the heavens,¹ Vibia Pacata and the centurion Flavius Verecundus of Legio Sextae Victrix,² for the sake of their family, willingly and deservedly fulfil their vow."

(RIB 2157a; altarstone; JRS liv (1964), p.178, no.7; this is GdlB's #2164a!)

  1. Silvanus was a Roman god adopted from the Italians, who presided over open woodland and pasture. The second part of the dedication, et quadris caelestib[us], is unknown elsewhere in Britain, and searches performed on the C.I.L., I.L.S. and A.E. catalogues show no equal on the continent.
  2. The Sixth Victorious Legion were stationed at Eburacum (York).

There is only a single inscription on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Westerwood, a dedicatory stone found in 1725 now lost. It depicted a relief of an erect phallus above the text EX VOTO "the result of a vow", with a secondary graffito: NVX "the night". In addition to this, an altarstone to Silvanus and the Sky dedicated by a centurion named Verecundus and his wife has recently been found (vide supra). Verecundus may have been posted to the Westerwood fort accompanied by a cohort of the Sixth from York, perhaps in order to undertake the initial constrution work, however, since his wife had apparently accompanied him to this remote outpost on the edge of the empire, it is more likely that he had been placed in command of the auxiliary regiment who were to garrison the fort. Unfortunately the name of the actual garrison unit is not mentioned in the Silvanus inscription and is unattested by further epigraphic evidence on stone.

See: The Roman Wall in Scotland by Sir George MacDonald (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1934) pp.253-8;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
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.
Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: WESTERWOOD"