After work today I went on one of my glamourous shopping trips to Farmfoods and, since I was near the Bearsden branch I decided to finally visit the site of Castlehill Roman Fort. I’ve driven past the place so many times, even thought about buying a house nearby once, but never tried to go up to the fort for a closer look. No permission is needed as it’s really just a circle of trees on a hilltop now so if you want to check it out, go ahead. *Disclaimer – if a farmer shoots you for trespassing it’s nothing to do with me.
Castlehill is known as Cibra in The Druid, and Bellicus goes here on the trail of the missing princess, hoping to use it as a vantage point to try and see any sign of her captors.
“The fort at Cibra was, like everything the Romans had built in these lands, long abandoned, but its ruins still dominated the skyline as Bellicus approached warily. He’d slowed Darac to a gentle walk and drawn his sword, scanning the horizon for signs of movement.”
Passing the little building below I made my way up the hill, seeing what looked like a hovering sparrowhawk on one side and then, on the other, something much bigger, possibly a buzzard? Didn’t get a pic sorry!
“Shading his eyes with a hand against the sun he slowly scanned from left to right but, at first, he could only see the usual, expected traffic on the roads and fields: a rickety ox-drawn cart being led slowly uphill towards the main settlement by a bent, presumably elderly, man; three youngsters chasing one another in some game while a sparrow-hawk circled them overhead, hoping they’d flush out a field-mouse; a group of chattering women washing clothes in the burn; a man on a ladder replacing the roof of his hovel, the sound of the hammer ringing out across the whole area.
Then he saw, far to the south, a group of men on foot, moving together in a tight formation. He squinted, wondering if his brain was interpreting the hazy mass as men when, in fact, it might be a drover taking his cows to market.”
In the book I call modern-day Drumchapel, Drumcrew. Bellicus sees a group of men heading south and chases after them before realising he’ll need help…Who better to ask for, as we call it in Glasgow nowadays, “Hauners” (handers/help fighting an enemy), than the lads from The Drum’?
“His only option was to leave the path and head for the village just half a mile to the west. The place was familiar to him, Drumcrew it was called, and an ancient stone circle stood nearby. The men there were a hardy lot, ready and willing to fight at the slightest provocation. They’d turn out in numbers for the chance to slaughter a party of invaders, without any doubt.”
Unfortunately, the site shows no evidence of its previous Roman occupants but I could have spent hours there, just wandering about looking at the views and drinking in the atmosphere. You can see why the legionaries picked this as the site for a fort. I just wish the Scottish government, or Historic Scotland or the National Trust or SOMEONE would look at places like this and try to do something exciting with them.
A reconstruction of a Roman fort on this hilltop, which is essentially nothing but wasteland, would be a great tourist attraction and really draw local children into learning about history. For some reason the authorities in this country don’t seem to want to bring the past to life, they’re content to just show “dead” monuments which is fine, but so much more could be done to interest people.
Anyway, Bellicus has a bit of a fight with help from the locals then ends up having a few drinks in another part of Bearsden. But you’ll need to buy the book to find out more as our druid heads south, towards what is now known as England.
Now, I think I’ll join our druid in a suitably appropriate beverage. Cheers all!
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I grew up relatively close by in Drumchapel, but only knew about the Roman Road in Bearsden about a half mile away at that time.
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Lots of Roman sites here, not least the baths in the centre of Bearsden! They must have been all over the area at one point.
That’s extremely interesting. It would be great to know more about historical places in UK. Thanks for the trip and new impressions for your readers, Mr. McKay.
Rough Castle, a Fort on the Antonine Wall is well worth a day trip with the family.
The ditches, the old military road, embankments and murder pits are the best preserved in Scotland.
In total agreement re reconstructing something on one of these sites.
At Vindolanda I Nirthumbria they have rebuilt a section of Hadrian’s Wall and it really brings home what it meant to be on either side of it. Civilization or the land of savages (that was us)
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