There is no record of the Romans of ever having entered the southern extremities of the Upper Tweed Valley even though there are two sites with the name Chester in the area.   The valley would have been heavily forested with Scot's Pines, Oak, Alder, Elm, Ash and Birch and was inhabitated by a tribe named the Selgovae.   However, a couple of miles south of the Parish boundary in Dumfriesshire near the Devil's Beeftub at Ericstane there is considerable evidence of the Romans having passed that way.   There are remains of roman roads, signal stations at White Type and Beattock Summit - RCAHMS Canmore ID 48494 -and also a fortlet at Redheugh and a marching camp at Little Clyde.   This cluster of signal stations/fortlets etc at Ericstane, apart from the requirement to monitor the movement of the Roman army as they proceeded north from Annandale via Ericstane Brae to the Upper Clyde Valley, must also have been to keep an eye on the hostile Selgovae in their Upper Tweed Fastness.

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c 1787 part of what was once thought part of a gold Roman Commander's breastplate was found by a peat digger at Ericstane and has been dated as c303 AD and associated with the Vicennalia of Diocletian. It has subsequently been identified as a fibula (Roman brooch).  The item is much smaller than it looks in the image - it measures 6.7cms across the bow and 9.6 cms overall.  The artefact is recorded by the RCAHMS on their on line archive Canmore as ID 48485.   The actual artefact is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where it is catalogued as The Ericstanebrae Fibula and part of the William Randolph Hearst Collection.  According to the LACMA website the fibula is not currently on public view.  Previously a replica had been made and was in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh - however in 2014 it was loaned to the Moffat Museum in Dumfriesshire.  The replica is nicely displayed there in the refurbished museum and can be seen on their website.  It can found on the main gallery section of the Exhibition Area.

In the eighteenth century a damaged, slightly more than life size, marble head was found near Hawkshaws in the Fruid valley.   The head is that of a Roman emperor or general and probably came to Hawkshaws as booty from some Roman site elsewhere.  It is now nicely displayed in the Royal Museum in Edinburgh in the Early Peoples section.

 

Tony Hope

 

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