Sunday, 13 March 2016

Rome's First Frontier...

Happy Late Sunday to you!

It's time for another review of a book read last week. I'm gradually getting through a goodly pile of Roman Scotland non-fiction books and in many ways I wish that I had coughed up the cash and bought this book a few years ago when I first started writing novels set in the time of the Agricolan Campaigns in northern Britannia.

For the last couple of years I've been fascinated by the concept of the Roman occupation of what's termed 'the Gask Ridge' and the 'Highland Fort Line'. This book whet's my appetite further and I'm now desperately awaiting the analysis of some LIDAR surveys of Scotland because I'm fairly sure they will enhance knowledge of  the already known forts, and provide more details to the speculative Roman defences in Scotland.

Yet again, I find that archaeological interpretation is very dependent on how evidence is viewed by those doing the digging.

Here's what I thought of Rome's First Frontier The Flavian Occupation of Northern Scotland. by D.J. Woolliscroft and B. Hoffmann.

This was an great book for evidence on The Gask Ridge and Highland Line of Roman forts and watch towers in Scotland. Even though this reprint of 2010 many be slightly out of date there is an immense amount of excavation covered in it.  I will be using the last couple of chapters often for general reference, and the others if I need specific details on a part of the Gask Ridge or Highland line forts. I like that the authors have identified some installations as particularly being legionary manned, meaning that most were auxiliary run. There are well drawn illustrations and good aerial photographs in the book but I personally would have benefited from a more comprehensive map of north of the Central Belt placing all of the named installations with regard to modern towns etc. I resorted to OS maps and making my own simple sketch. Some of the speculative parts of the book are intriguing, and the suppositions regarding the dating I find are plausible though on scant evidence I can also see how many other experts might refute the evaluations in this book. I personally can identify with many of the conclusions as being reasonable possibilities. This will be a great ‘go to’ book for me for many reasons in the future!

Even though this book was more challenging to read than the last one I read on Roman Scotland, because of the lengthy details given for each site, I felt I gained a lot of new pieces of information from this one.

Happy reading to you! Now, what's next on my reading pile....?


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