by David J Breeze
“The fieldwork at Bearsden was conducted between 1973 and 1982, so this report has been a long time coming—but it has been worth the wait. It is a splendid and comprehensive publication that has greatly benefited from recent developments in analytical techniques, particularly in relation to bioarchaeological remains and artefactual evidence. Its 400 or so pages are lavishly illustrated in colour with extremely well-produced and clearly labelled plans, photographs, and artefact and reconstruction drawings.”
Penelope Allison, University of Leicester in Antiquity”
[David Breeze] has now brought this project to completion with aplomb. The result is beautifully produced and thorough – now a rarity in excavation reports.”
Professor Martin Millett, University of Cambridge in British Archaeology
“Overall, the volume is well-organised, copiously illustrated, much in colour, with ample cogent discussion, consistent with the high standard we have come to expect from the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, and forms an important addition to the corpus of published work on the Antonine Wall.”
Alan Rushworth in Archaeologia Aeliana
“This is what we should all be aiming for in terms of sheer quality, impact and readability.”
Dr Jacqueline Cahill Wilson, The Journal of Irish Archaeology Volume XXV
“[A] well-illustrated and modestly priced volume. […] Anyone interested in Roman forts and military life should digest the findings of this report.”
Matthew Symonds in the Archaeological Journal
“[A] handsome, lavishly illustrated and very reasonably priced volume.”
W S Hanson in The Antiquaries Journal Volume 98
“Breeze and his fellow authors are to be congratulated on a volume that… makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Roman Scotland.”
Pete Wilson in Britannia Volume 49
The demolition of Victorian villas in the 1970s led to the excavation of the Roman fort at Bearsden, near Glasgow, on the Antonine Wall, and the discovery of a Roman bath-house and latrine.
The bath-house is the tip of an archaeological iceberg. Over ten seasons a substantial portion of the Roman fort was examined and its history traced. Of particular importance was the discovery of sewage from the latrine which provided intimate details about the life of the soldiers at Bearsden, including their diet and hygiene.
The Roman fort contained two barrack-blocks. Analysis of the distribution of pottery within each building suggests that food was prepared, cooked and eaten in these barracks rooms. The bath-house produced fragments of large bowls. But were they used for drinking wine, holding fruit and nuts – remains of which were found in the bath-house – or as chamber pots? The fort also contained two large stone granaries as well as timber storehouses.
The soldiers had a varied diet which included wheat and barley, probably used in baking bread and making porridge, as well as various wild fruits and nuts. More exotic food such as coriander and figs were imported from the continent. Food remains in cooking pots demonstrated that durum – or macaroni – wheat was used at Bearsden. The soldiers suffered from both whipworm and roundworm and had fleas. Moss found in the sewage was probably used by the soldiers in cleaning themselves after using the latrine.
The excavations were led by the principal author of this report, Professor David Breeze, formerly Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland. Over thirty-five specialists have contributed.