Roman in the gloamin'

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SO WHAT happened exactly? Is Scotland’s early history as a land of freedom-fighters as safe as we thought - or perhaps pulp fiction? According to two archaeologists, not only did the original Roman wall run further north than generally supposed, but the conquest was also ten years earlier than previously thought, at around AD 70.

Moreover, it now looks as if the Romans found not hordes of warmongering Celts but a land of peaceful natives keen to trade their beer for wine, olive oil, pottery and other luxury goods. Indeed, far from the Roman invasion triggering war, it seems to have sparked an economic boom that ran for some 15 years. To the extent there was a conquest, it was bloodless.

But there are some jarring notes to this general picture of Romano-Scottish fellowship. First there was the need for the Romans to rebuild the watchtowers along the Gask Ridge. Then there was the lack of coins around the Roman settlements. Most curious of all is why the Romans should have abandoned this happy and pacific world to fall back behind Hadrian’s wall, much further to the south. Clearly , it could not have been all peace and harmony - otherwise there would have been no Scotland. Or not as we know it.