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Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain

Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain

Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain William Roy (1726–90) became fascinated by Roman remains in North Britain while he was undertaking his famous Military Survey (published by Birlinn Limited in 2007). His study in Roman remains was published in 1793 by the Society of Antiquaries.

The text was accompanied by meticulous illustrations of the remains, many of which have now vanished. However, for this limited edition reprint we have also added reproductions of the original coloured drawings that Roy prepared for a presentation edition for King George III - most spectacular of which is a foldout map of the Antonine Wall, showing its route and plans of the forts.

William Roy (1726-90) was born at Miltonhead, near Carluke, the son of an estate factor. In 1747, uder the instruction of Lt-Col. David Watson, he undertook the initial work on the Military Survey around Fort Augustus. From 1748 Roy was assisted by six surveying parties, with six men within each survey party; the Highlands were largely complete by 1752, while southern Scotland (south of the Forth–Clyde line) was completed by 1755. He also took a particular personal enthusiasm in mapping Roman military antiquities, including a detailed survey of the Antonine Wall in 1755. Finally, through Roy’s efforts, the accurate measurement of a base line on Hounslow Heath laid the foundation of the Trigonometrical Survey of Great Britain in 1791. This was later to become the Ordnance Survey.

David Breeze, who introduces this edition, is a former Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments in Historic Scotland and a past president of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He holds honorary professorship at the universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Newcastle. He has written extensively on Roman Scotland, Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman army.

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