"Roman legion on the move" by Denis Postle is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

323 Years of Military Attacks

The Roman time in Scotland was a series of military attacks and brief occupation to reduce attacks in Roman England. No towns were built and the occupation was to protect the frontier. As in Germany and North Africa, the Romans built barriers and watchtowers to protect and control who entered the empire. A series of walls or fort lines were built – The Gask Ridge from Dunblane to Perth during Agricola’s invasion in 79 to 84AD, Hadrian’s Wall 122AD, The Antonine Wall 142AD and and then back again to Hadrian’s Wall in 165AD

Large forts with squadrons of cavalry 500 to 1000 strong were established. Auxiliary troops from many areas including Syria, Romania, Spain and northern Belgium were deployed to Scotland. Many forts were rebuilt during each phase of invasion.


Carlisle Roman Fort was built along with some fortlets in the area.


The French general Julius Agricola launched his campaign in the north in the late AD 70’s. By both land and sea, it took only five years for him to take control of much of lowland Scotland. Some forts were built along what would later become the line of the Antonine Wall, while others were constructed along the Gask Ridge in Perthshire. He supported the emperor Vespasian in AD 69 when there were 4 emperors challenging each other for dominance and gained his military command through that support.

  • 79 AD Julius Agricola invades Northern Scotland. Pompei destroyed in a Volcanic eruption.
  • 84 AD Battle of Mons Graupius.
  • 88 AD Inchtuthil fortress west of Blairgowrie is abandoned
  • 98 AD Cornelius Tacitus first writes down his account of the Roman invasion by his father-in-law Agricola.
  • 117AD Disturbances from Scotland require 3000 troops to be deployed from Germany and Spain. This includes elements of Legio VII Germanicus, VIII Augusta, XXII Primigenia
  • 122 AD Start of the construction of Hadrian’s Wall


The emperor Antonius Pius with permission of Daniel Voshart
  • 142 AD Antonine Wall constructed on orders of the emperor Antoninus Pius. Cramond Fort was built.
  • 152 AD Trouble erupts again with coins minted in 154 that show Britannia in mourning.
  • 165 AD Antonine Wall was abandoned four years after the death of Antoninus Pius. Most troops return to Hadrian’s wall.
  • 165 Ad Antonine Plague erupts and lasts until 180 AD
  • 175 AD Sarmatian heavy cavalry deployed to Ribchester in Lancashire.
  • 182 AD Maetae and Caledonians attack England moving south along Dere street and burning down Rudchester, Halton Chester and Corbridge. Attack repulsed by 184 AD.
  • 190 AD Castlecary Fort on Antonine Wall was still garrisoned by elements of Legio VI Victrix.


Septimus Severus with permission of Daniel Voshart
  • 208 AD African Roman Emperor Septimius Severus launches the last campaign intended to conquer Scotland. He dies in York
  • 211 AD Scotland abandoned again by the Romans after Septimius Severus dies in York.
  • 286 to 296 The Carausian Revolt was an episode in Roman history, during which a Roman naval commander, Carausius, declared himself emperor over Britain and northern Gaul. His Gallic territories were retaken by the western Caesar Constantius Chlorus in 293, after which Carausius was assassinated by his subordinate Allectus. Britain was regained by Constantius and his subordinate Asclepiodotus in 296.
  • 286 to 318 AD – barrack block in South Shields, near Hadrian’s Wall destroyed by fire.


  • 305 AD New Roman campaigns against the Caledonians by the Bulgarian emperor, Constantius, who leads a military campaign in Scotland, reaching “the end of the land”. Constantius dies at York and his son, Constantine, is declared Emperor. Staying in York seemed to be bad luck for the emperors as Septimus Severus also died there.
  • 360 AD Lupicinius despatched to Briton because of attacks by Picts and Scots
  • 367 AD revolt by Picts, Attacotti and Scots put down by Count Theodosius over the course of a year.
  • 383 AD Magnus Maximus wins a victory over the Scots and Picts and proclaims himself emperor of the west of the Empire.


Emperor Honorius withdraws legions and there are 500 years called the dark ages until the Normans invade in the 11th century.

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