The remains of the ditches protecting Dunmore Hillfort along with a superb view from the summit. At Bochastle slight earthworks are visible of the Roman Fort.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Dunmore Hillfort Car Park
Bochastle Fort Car Park
Bochastle Roman Fort
Notes: Neither fort is sign-posted but both can be found off the A821 near Callander. Dunmore Hillfort has a lay-by directly adjacent to the footpath towards the site. For Bochastle use Kilmahog car park and follow the cycle-track. Further access details are described below.
1. From the lay-by follow the path to the information panel:
ACCESS TO DUNMORE FORT
2. Turn left and follow signs to Brig o’Turk
3. The footpath to the summit is just before the large rock on the right:
4. Follow the grass footpath to the fort:
1. From the A821 enter Kilmahog Car Park:
ACCESS TO BOCHASTLE ROMAN FORT
2. Follow the cycle-track until you see the fort’s earthworks:
Situated in close proximity, Dunmore Hillfort and Bochastle Roman Fort demonstrate very different concepts in defence. Whilst the former relied upon its dominant location to provide protection, the Roman fort relied on the offensive abilities of its garrison and the ability of the wider army to resupply them via the River Teith.
HISTORY OF DUNMORE AND BOCHASTLE FORTS
Callander is situated on the River Teith and has been occupied for thousands of years. Today the remains of two fortifications can be seen in close proximity but they exhibit very different approaches to defence.
Dunmore Hillfort occupied the summit of a steep hill overlooking the Pass of Leny. The eastern side was protected by a sheer drop whilst the landward slide, which was approached via a shallower gradient, had an elaborate system of ditches and ramparts configured in an oval shape. Access into the fortification was via a hornpipe arrangement - similar to a medieval barbican - along the same route the modern visitor takes. Accommodation would have consisted of a number of round houses within the complex. An annexe, perhaps for housing livestock, is found just to the north of the fort.
The multivallate ditches, Dunmore seems to have had four, not only provided security but also acted as an articulation of the owner's power and status. Based on stone footings on the site, each rampart seems originally to have had its own curtain wall adding further gravitas to the site - it is likely it was home to an important tribal leader.
The name derives from Gaelic - Dun meaning fort and Mhor meaning large - which became corrupted into Dunmore. The hillfort has also been known as Dun bochaistel (Fort Bochastle). In the immediate proximity is Samson's Puttin' stone; allegedly dropped by a giant of the same name but more likely moved into place by a glacier around 10,000 years ago.
Bochastle Roman Fort
The Romans established the fort at Bochastle around AD 85 as part of a complex military deployment designed to contain any insurgency originating from the Highland massif. Two years earlier Gnaeus Julius Agricola had led his forces to victory at the Battle of Mons Graupius and he inevitably would have expected the Caledonian tribes to resort to guerilla warfare. A new Legionary base was established at Inchtuthil along with the associated network of forts, roads and watchtowers. Bochastle, situated at the eastern end of the Pass of Leny, was one of a number of so-called Glen Blocker forts controlling key access points to/from the Highlands.
Built upon the site of an earlier marching camp, the fort enclosed a little under 5 acres and was configured in a standard 'playing card' shape. A pair of defensive ditches surrounded the outpost and these were greatly augmented by significant waterways - the Garbh Uisge to the north and Eas Gobhain to the south which then converge into the River Teith - all of which limited access and enabled easy resupply. Archaeological investigation suggests the fort may have had an annexe to the west of the main fort.
It is not clear how long Bochastle remained in use - it is possible it was abandoned after just one Winter with the forts of the Gask Ridge frontier (including Doune and Ardoch) replacing the Glen Blockers. Regardless, the fort was certainly abandoned by AD 90 when the Romans had started to slowly withdrew from Scotland. The site was not re-occupied during the later Roman excursions into Scotland and the site survived as earthworks until partially destroyed by the construction of the Callander to Oban Railway in the 1840s. The railway was dismantled after its closure in 1965 and the former path of the track is now a foot/cycle path enabling good views of the site.
Bochastle Roman Fort. As one of the Glen Blocker Forts, Bochastle guarded a major access point out of the Highland massif where the Romans clearly expected the insurgency effort to be focused.