Archaeologists might have found a Roman oven at a former fort annexe in Scotland

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 23 August 2016

Pottery from northern Gaul and bolt-heads used for target practice have been found at a fort annexe used by civilians and military personnel

A photo of Roman pottery found at a site in Scotland
© GUARD Archaeology
Archaeologists say Roman socketed bolt-heads, an ox-goad, hobnails and a possible oven, discovered at a former fort annexe where years of excavations have repeatedly revealed remains from the period, could help shed light on life in central Scotland as far back as the Iron Age.

Signs of pre-Roman activity resound at Camelon Roman fort. But experts believe Roman pottery at the site near Falkirk could show the early contacts and trading enjoyed by people in Britain around 2,000 years ago.

The blunt heads of the bolt-heads suggest they could have been used as less deadly ammunition during frequent target practice for soldiers.

A photo of Roman pottery found at a site in Scotland
A socketed bolt-head and ox-goad© GUARD Archaeology
Much of the industrial waste was found in a large pit radio carbon-dated to between 41 BC and 116 AD. Antonine-era pottery from Northern Gaul was also dated to between the mid-1st and early 3rd centuries, when iron smelting took place.

The possible oven is the latest discovery of its kind in fort and contemporary sites in Scotland.

“Most ovens, or fire and cooking-pits, as they are also termed, generally comprise two bipartite - figure-of-eight - pits containing layers of charcoal with evidence of in-situ scorching of the surrounding soils,” says archaeologist Diane Alldrit, who describes the analysis as “tentative”.

A photo of Roman pottery found at a site in Scotland
© GUARD Archaeology
“The problem is that no charcoal layers or scorching were found within them, and no environmental material was recovered during post-excavation analysis.

“Often there is a difference in depth between the two pits and stone or cobble settings have also been found at the base of them. The deeper pit has most likely been used as a receptacle for raked out waste charcoal and ash.”

Fort annexes could have been used by military personnel and civilians, according to evidence found at similar annexes around Scotland. Bath houses, ovens and metalworking at the forts indicate multiple usage by different groups of people.

Concrete platforms, stone-filled drains and debris of iron slag, bricks and tile fragments came from the site’s 20th century use as an ironworks.


Three places to see archaeology in Scotland

, Glasgow
From crocodiles to cats and jackals to birds, discover how the Egyptians used the animal mummies as gifts for the gods in the current exhibition, Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed. Until September 4 2016.

Stewartry Museum, Dumfries
Thanks to years of collecting and to the hard work of local metal detectorists The Stewartry Museum holds an amazing collection of archaeology from the local area. Redisplayed, these ancient and important pieces have been given new life through highlighted displays and enlarged images.

, Edinburgh
The rare and exquisite jadeitite axeheads found around the Scottish countryside have long puzzled archaeologists. How did these beautiful Neolithic axeheads end up in Scotland, so far from their origins in the North Italian Alps around 6,000 years ago? Find out in the current exhibition, Stone Age Jade from the Alps. Until October 30 2016.