In the beginning
The Wall and the Picts
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The next 450 years:
A.D. 350 - A.D. 794
A.D. 795 - A.D. 1260
A.D. 1260 to
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The coming of the Romans was in some ways like a meeting of old friends (well enemies really) as the Romans were by no means strangers to the Celtic race. One of the biggest impacts that the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 79 had was that it led to what must have been by far the biggest battle to take place in Scotland (Mons Graupius), but more of that later.
In a strange way the Roman invasion of Scotland was in fact good for the races of Scotland. Whilst many battles and skirmishes were to take place, the Romans brought a sense of order to the country. The previously nameless dwellers of prehistoric Scotland were now awarded tribal identities and a generic and all encompassing name by the Romans. It is highly likely that all of Scotland was already under the control of Celtic tribes at the time the Romans arrived. However, if this was not the case this power of the Celtic race was certainly supreme by around 100AD.
The actual population of Scotland at this time can only be guessed at. However,the small population was certainly able to offer significant resistance to the invading Romans. 30,000 warriors, probably an exaggeration, were said to have fought at Mons Graupius. Of course this then infers that the population was approximately ten to twenty times this, which is unlikely.
After the initial invasion took place the Romans set about domesticating the country in their usual efficient way. With customary speed they set up roads from their English province of Britannia and began to build forts in Southern areas. Indeed there are significant areas of Scotland which still reveal surprises and relics from the Roman invasion. An example of this are excavations round about Cramond, which is near Edinburgh, revealing that this may have been a significant port for the Romans in Scotland.
Following the initial invasion (A.D. 79) the Romans were not content to remain only in the South of the country. Spies gathered information and traders reported back to the Roman garrisons from the unconquered areas. The initial boundary of the Roman occupation was set as a line from the River Forth in the East, near Edinburgh, to the River Clyde in the West, now near Glasgow. In order to preserve their power, the invading force built a chain of forts along this line.
Of course the native population were also busy and frequent incursions and skirmishes took place along this boundary line. In 83 A.D., the Roman General Agricola set out to destroy the Caledonians from behind the protection of the forts.
This battle was won after a surprisingly arduous tussle and the defeated tribes were chased into the woods. The Romans did not follow to finish them off, perhaps learning their lesson from the defeat by some of the Germanic tribes in similar circumstances. After this momentous battle the Romans should have pressed home their advantage, but for some reason didn't and with the recall of Agricola to Rome the following year, the impetus was gone.
Over time, the tribes regained control over much of the area of the centre and southern uplands. Little was to change until AD 122 with the order to build Hadrians wall.