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Hundreds of Roman huts which housed refugees fleeing turmoil in Scotland have been discovered by archaeologists near Hadrian's Wall.

The huts were unearthed earlier this year within the site of the Roman fortress of Vindolanda near the English/Scottish border.

Compared with the usual style of rectangular Roman architecture the huts were of a circular shape.

Archaeologists believe that the buildings were hastily constructed to house hundreds of tribespeople who scrambled over Hadrian's Wall when what is now Scotland was invaded by Emperor Septimius Severus in 208.

Dr Andrew Birley, who led the dig at Hexham, Northumberland, said the buildings were 'remarkable structures'.

He said: 'These are remarkable structures to be found inside a Roman fort, unique in fact. It is quite possible that what we have here is the Roman army providing for these farmers - creating a temporary refuge for the most vulnerable people from north of the wall.'

Hadrian's Wall was begun in 122 during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. It marked the northernmost border of the Roman Empire and was also the Empire's most heavily fortified border. The wall ran for 73 miles from coast to coast across what is now the far north of England. In some places the wall was ten feet high and twenty feet wide.

Most of what was north of the wall was what is now modern day Scotland. Being outside the Roman Empire the Romans would have seen Scotland as nothing more than a land of barbarians.

Nowadays, though, the Wall does not mark the border between England and Scotland. It lies entirely within England, south of the border with Scotland by about half a mile in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, and 68 miles south of the border in the east.

At regular intervals across its length were forts which could hold up to 500 Roman troops while cavalry units of 1,000 troops were stationed at either end of the wall. The total number of soldiers manning the early wall was probably greater than 10,000.

In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation.

A significant portion of the wall still exists, particularly the mid-section, and for much of its length the wall can be followed on foot by Hadrian's Wall Path or by cycle on National Cycle Route 72. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as "the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain.

Roman camp that housed refugees fleeing Scottish unrest discovered near Hadrian's Wall


By Daily Mail Reporter
22nd June 2011
Daily Mail

Hundreds of Roman huts that would have housed refugees fleeing turmoil in Scotland have been discovered by archaeologist near Hadrian's Wall.

The scientists unearthed the structures earlier this year within the site of the Roman fortress of Vindolanda near the border.

Experts were struck by the circular shape of the temporary but well-built huts which would have been in contrast to the usual style of rectangular Roman architecture.

Ancient: The Roman huts were found in Northumberland within the site of Vindolanda, a fortress for Roman troops that was built south of Hadrian's Wall

Archaeologists believe that the buildings were hastily constructed to house hundreds of tribespeople who scrambled over Hadrian's Wall when Scotland was invaded in the third century AD.

Dr Andrew Birley, who led the dig at Hexham, Northumberland, said the buildings were 'remarkable structures'.

He said: 'These are remarkable structures to be found inside a Roman fort, unique in fact.

'They are the sort of building you might expect to find north of Hadrian's Wall in this period, used by small farming communities.


Battle: Roman Emperor Septimius Severus invaded Scotland in 208 AD, but he later fell ill and died in York in 211 AD

'It is quite possible that what we have here is the Roman army providing for these farmers - creating a temporary refuge for the most vulnerable people from north of the wall.

'Those people may have helped to feed the army and traded with the soldiers, and would have been regarded as being traitors and collaborators in the eyes of the rebellious tribes to the north.

'It would make a certain sense to bring them behind the curtain of Hadrian's Wall and protect them while the fighting continued, as they would have had real value to the Romans and they certainly tried to protect what they valued.'

The community north of the border collapsed during the invasion of Scotland under Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (AD 208-211). Septimius, who was born in Libya, led the invasion in person but he later fell ill and died in York.


The route of Hadrian's Wall

Hundreds of people from poor farming communities are likely to have been forced to flee the country by piling over Hadrian's Wall.

Experts are keen to explain why the Roman army would have gone to such lengths to accommodate the refugees.

The buildings give an insight into the outlook of the Roman Empire and their treatment of indigenous people.

The excavation at the site has also unearthed various finds including letters, murder victims and shoes. The artefacts will also help to shed light on the Roman people.


Roman camp that housed refugees fleeing Scottish unrest discovered near Hadrian's Wall | Mail Online

Hadrian's Wall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 22nd, 2011 at 01:32 PM..