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Calgacus - The first native of Scotland to get his name in a book

The Swordsman and the Farmer at the Battle of Mons Graupius (circa 82 AD)

The first native of what we today call Scotland to get his name in a book was Calgacus (the swordsman), who, in the first century AD, was one of the leaders of the Caledonians fighting against the Romans led by Governor and General Agricola (the farmer) at the Battle of Mons Graupius. The book is 'The Agricola' by the Roman writer Tacitus. Tacitus was the son-in-law of Agricola. Tacitus called Britain 'the land at the extremities of the earth'. Julius Ceasar tried twice to invade Britain - in 55BC and 54BC. Both of Caesar's attempts were unsuccessful. In AD 43, in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, Aulus Plautius led a successful Roman invasion of Britain. The Romans then stayed in Britain for over 400 years. In those days there was no such place as Scotland, so it might be correct to call that area of the World as it existed then, 'North Britain'. The Romans invaded 'North Britain' several times but never actually stayed very long. They built a frontier wall - The Antonine Wall - across the Forth - Clyde isthmus. They also built some roads in 'North Britain' and more than a few forts, mostly of turf and/or wood. Each night that a Roman army camped they built a fortified camp. Historians and archeologists, with the aid of aerial photography, can trace the path of Roman armies across the land by the location of these Roman forts and camps. The size of these so called 'marching camps', the layout of them, the distance between them and the line of them following Roman armies routes, can be used to deduce information such as dates, number of soldiers present, etc. The most northerly Roman Fort known about up to now was at Stracathro near Brechin. The best preserved Roman fort in Scotland is Ardoch (near Braco) on the northern side of the Ochil Hills.

In about AD 77, in the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, Gnaeus Julius Agricola was appointed governor of Britain. During each year of his governorship Agricola led Roman legions on campaign. His first campaign was against the Ordovices in what is now Wales. Agricola led seven campaigns in all. It was only during his sixth and seventh campaigns that he appears to have been fighting north of the Clyde - Forth isthmus. Agricola 25 - In the summer in which his sixth year of office began, Agricola enveloped the tribes beyond the Forth. Fearing a general rising of the northern nations and threatening movements of the enemy on land, he used his fleet to reconnoiter the harbours. ... The war was pushed forward simultaneously by land and sea. Tacitus - Agricola 11 - calls the area north of the Forth 'Caledonia' and the people who lived there 'Caledonians'. He also writes The reddish hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim a German origin. In Agricola 26, Tacitus also calls the Caledonians 'Britons'. During Agricola's seventh and final campaign in Britain, the Romans and Caledonians fought a great battle at a place called Mons Graupius. About 10,000 of the Caledonians were killed for very few casualties on the Roman side. Agricola 37 - Of the enemy some 10,000 fell; on our side, 360 men - among them Aulus Atticus, the prefect of a cohort, whose youthful impetuosity and mettlesome horse carried him deep into the ranks of the enemy. To this day nobody knows where Mons Graupius was. A likely site is near Inverurie, west of Stonehaven, where a hill called 'Mither Tap o' Bennachie' might have been Mons Graupius and the Caledonian armies headquarters, while a nearby Roman camp at Durno, one of a succession of camps between a marching camp at Raedykes, close to Stonehaven and a camp at Bellie, close to the sea near Buckie (near Burghead, which may have been the Caledonian's capital), is out of line with the line of march. Stonehaven and Buckie would have been good places for the Roman fleet to anchor. South of Raedykes there are marching camps at Kair House and Balmakewan, which isn't far from the most northerly fort (so far found) at Stracathro. Tacitus says of the Caledonians at Mons Graupius - Already more than 30,000 men could be seen, and still they came flocking to the colours ... At that point one of the many leaders, a man of outstanding valour and nobility named Calgacus, addressed the close packed multitude of men clamoring for battle .. - Agricola 29 - Tacitus then goes on to relate the speech of Calgacus to the assembled army. In the speech, Tacitus has Calgacus say of the Romans - they create a desolation and call it peace - Agricola 30. But still nobody today knows where the battle took place. Some writers think that it may even have been much further south near Dunning or Comrie. Some day somebody will find the weapons pits and perhaps mass graves which should mark the battle site. Tacitus describes the battle but does not give much of a clue as to where it actually was. He mentions the place as if his readers were already quite familiar with it. Agricola 29 ... , he reached Mount Graupius, which he found occupied by the enemy. Mither Tap is a prominent hill in that area - if that is the area Tacitus is talking about. Mither Tap fits his description, especially of the way he describes how the Romans could look up and see the ranks of warriors on the hill above them. The hill has the correct shape for this. Agricola 35 - The British army was posted on higher ground in a manner calculated to impress and intimidate its enemy. Their front line was on the plain, but the other ranks seemed to mount up the sloping hillside in close packed tiers. The flat space between the two armies was taken up by the noisy maneuvering of the charioteers. The land between Mither Tap and the Roman camp is not exactly flat, but as a battle site it is a strong possibility. We have to remember that Tacitus was never actually at the battle site - as far as we know. After the battle the whole country was empty of the Caledonians - An awful silence reigned on every hand; the hills were deserted, houses were smoking in the distance, and our scouts did not meet a soul - Agricola 38. It is then that Tacitus mentions the name of a tribe which must have lived in the area of the battle:- so Agricola led his army into the territory of the Boresti. There he took hostages and ordered his Admiral to sail round the north of Britain. After his victory at Mons Graupius, Agricola was recalled to Rome, never to return to Britain - Agricola 40.

'Mount Graupius' - The whole of the mountain range in which the battle is thought to have taken place is today named after the battle. The name of the Grampian mountains reproduces a misspelling of Graupium in the first edition of 'The Agricola', printed near the end of the fifteenth century.

Marching Camps between Stonehaven and Buckie - Raedykes - Normandykes (River Dee) - Kintore - Durno (Mount Graupius?) - Glenmailen - Burnfield - Auchinhove&Muryfold - Bellie (territory of the Boresti?).

In Brief - -
AD 43 - Claudian invasion of Britain

AD 77 - Agricola arrives in Britain as Governor
AD 81 - Agricola reaches Forth Clyde line
AD 82? - Battle of Mons Graupius
AD 90 - Legionary fortress at Inchtuthil (on the River Tay near Dunkeld) evacuated.
AD 99 to 100 - all Forts in North Britain evacuated and abandoned
AD 122 - Hadrian's Wall built - Emperor Hadrian fixes Roman Empire's border in this area as the North of England Carlisle - Corbridge line - see map. The wall was manned by 15,000 Auxiliary soldiers. But there may still have been Roman patrols and forts held in North Britain as outposts and also client kingdoms north of Hadrian's wall..
AD 139 to 142 - Q. Lollius Urbicus invades North Britain - Forts as far north as Bertha (on the River Almond near Perth) rebuilt. Antonine wall between Forth and Clyde built and occupied.
AD 155 - Antonine Wall abandoned.
AD 162-165 - Antonine Wall reoccupied then finally abandoned.
AD 177 - Revolt in North Britain
AD 209 - Emperor Severus and his son Caraculla invade North Britain - New Roman Fort at Carpow on the Tay built. The fort was soon abandoned.
AD 210 - Revolt of the Maeatae, a confederation of pictish tribes, who were first heard of at this time and the 2nd Scottish campaign by Severus
AD 211- Severus dies in York
AD 364 - Picts, Scots, and Saxons attack Roman Britain from all directions.
AD 466 - Last appeal of the Romano Britons to Aetius - End of Roman Britain.

See - also on this site some stuff about the Picts