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PUBLICATION DATE: January 15, 2022
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The Romans in Scotland and The Battle of Mons Graupius
By (author) Simon Forder
In AD 77, Roman forces under Agricola marched into the northern reaches of Britain to pacify the Caledonian tribesmen. For seven years, the Romans campaigned across what is now Scotland. In AD 83, they fought the final battle at Mons Graupius, where 10,000 Caledonians were slaughtered with only 360 Roman dead.How much of this is true? The climax of the Agricola is the main source, a near contemporary account of the career of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia in the reigns of the Emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, written by his son-in-law Tacitus. This account of a steady advance into northern Britain and sudden withdrawal matched closely the evidence available on the ground, and for many years remained uncritically accepted. Archaeological investigations carried out recently at Roman sites in Scotland and northern England have, however, caused historians to cast a more sceptical eye over Tacitus’ account. Author Simon Forder considers the fine print of the Agricola – together with the implications of Ptolemy’s Geography – and triangulates these with the very latest archaeological finds to suggest a new narrative, including a new location for the battle itself.Mons Graupius has fascinated historians for centuries, not only because of the uncertainties but also because it marks the withdrawal of Rome from the north: for the Empire, it is the beginning of the end.
Reviews of The Romans in Scotland and The Battle of Mons Graupius
'The Romans in Scotland and The Battle of Mons Graupius' by Simon Forder is the sort of book you only come across occasionally. Short of the unearthing of entirely new historical evidence in the future, it provides as near to a truly definitive account of its subject as anyone is ever likely to fit between the covers of a book. The result is a remarkable achievement … totally compelling.' — Undiscovered Scotland 'A new perspective' — Current Archaeology
Simon Forder is a historian and castle expert and has travelled all over Great Britain, in mainland Europe and Scandinavia visiting fortified sites. For the past eight years he has been researching the much-neglected history of castles in his local area of Moray, visiting every site. He is the author of ‘Fortress Scotland’ and ‘Edinburgh Castle’. For this book he has liaised closely with archaeologists working on the Gask Ridge and elsewhere.