What's There?

Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet exists as slight earthworks - the best preserved on the entire Antonine frontier. In good weather the site offers fabulous views over the River Clyde.

Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet. The fortlet survives as slight earthworks.

LURG MOOR ROMAN FORTLET

Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet was a watchtower and signalling facility associated with the Antonine Wall frontier. Most probably operating in close connection with the nearby garrison at Bishopton, it was situated 250 metres above sea level giving it a commanding view of all activity along the River Clyde.

Getting There

The fort is on moorland overlooking Greenock. It is not sign-posted nor is there any planned public access outside of the normal Scottish Land Access Rights. Note that access to the moor is normally fenced off. The car parking option shown is the closest with only a single fence (approximately 0.75 metre high) to the fortlet.

Car Parking

PA19 1BE

55.931631N 4.727235W

Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet

No Postcode

55.926334N 4.730367W

History

 

Lurg Moor Fortlet was a mid-second century AD outpost of the Roman army built to observe movements along the River Clyde as part of the Antonine Frontier. In AD 138 Antoninus Pius had become Emperor of Rome and sought to cement his political position with a military victory. He ordered the abandonment of Hadrian's Wall, which his predecessor had established around AD 122 as the empire's northern frontier, and advanced his Legions into Central and Southern Scotland building the Antonine Wall between Bo'ness on the Forth and Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde. However, whilst the Wall controlled the thin neck of land between the two rivers, a network of fortifications was required to ensure it wasn't by-passed simply by crossing the water. In the west the situation was particularly difficult with at least one fording point (Dumbeck) beyond the Wall's terminus whilst the sheltered waters of the Clyde would have supported all varieties of small ships. To mitigate a major fort was built overlooking the southern banks of the Clyde at Bishopton but, as that didn't have visibility of the entire Clyde, two further fortlets were added on the high ground to the west and south-west; Lurg Moor and Outerwards.

 

Lurg Moor was built in a standard configuration for a Roman fortlet. Measuring 52 metres by 44 metres, its ramparts were built from turf (augmented by the natural rocky outcrops that are found on the moor) and were almost certainly topped with a breastwork or palisade. A defensive ditch surrounded the fortlet although excavated causeways were left on both north and side sides for gateways. Traces of Roman road have been detected running down the hill toward Greenock and also south from the fortlet presumably heading towards the next garrison at Outerwards. A survey made in 1955 also suggested the possibility of an annexe adjacent to the fort although this is disputed.

 

Positioned on high ground 250 metres above sea level, Lurg Moor Fortlet enabled the Romans to monitor activity from Cardross, Helensburgh and into the entrance into the Gare Loch (now home to the Royal Navy's submarine fleet) as well as any traffic along the River Clyde itself. Presumably with signal communications to Bishopton Fort, it would have enabled that garrison to respond to any events of concern. It is not known when the fortlet was abandoned but the assumption is it ceased to be used when the military withdrew from the Antonine Wall circa-AD 164.

 

Bibliography

 

Bailey, G B and Moore, M (2003). The Antonine Wall: Rome's Northern Frontier. Falkirk Council, Falkirk.

Breeze, D.J (2011). The Frontiers of Imperial Rome. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley.

Breeze, D.J (2006). The Antonine Wall.  Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh.

Burns R (2009). The Last Frontier: The Roman Invasions of Scotland. Neil Wilson Publishing, London.

Fields, N (2005). Rome’s Northern Frontier AD 70-235. Osprey, Oxford.

MacDonald, G (2010). The Roman Wall in Scotland. General Books, London.

Maxwell, G.S (1989). The Romans in Scotland. Mercat Press, Edinburgh.

RCAHMS (2008). The Antonine Wall, 1:25,000 Scale. RCAHMS, Edinburgh.

Robertson, A. S and Keppie, L (1990). The Antonine Wall: A handbook to the surviving remains (4th edition). Glasgow Archaeological Society, Glasgow.

Shotter, D (1998). The Roman Frontier in Britain. Carnegie Publishing Ltd, London.

Skinner, D. N (1973). The countryside of the Antonine Wall: A survey and recommended policy statement. Countryside Commission, Perth.

Southern, P (2011). Ancient Rome - The Empire 30 BC to AD 476. Amberley Publishing, London.