Here's the fort itself. It's to the north of my village, and each of those mounds and ditches were the defences along each side. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
But for now, I'm not as interested in the fort...as what might be beneath it !
The legend is that there was a tunnel that the Romans built under their fort which connects to Grinnan Hill, a former Roman lookout post at the south of the village about half a mile away. When the Romans left Ardoch, they expected to come back, and so hid treasure in the tunnel.
There was also an old rhyme which runs:
Between the Roman camp at Ardoch
And the Grinnan Hill of Keir
Lie nine kings' ransoms
For nine hundred years
So does the tunnel exist, and is there treasure in it ?
There's lots of evidence that it did.
In "Ardoch 2000" book by William C. Hutchison, the entrance was described as a round opening like a mouth of a well, and the tunnel initially went straight down. It says in 1720, the person renting Ardoch House, the estate next door, got tired of rabbits running down the hole to escape his dogs, so he had the mouth of the tunnel covered by a millstone and covered with earth.
In another book which I only recently got, "Perthshire in History and Legend" by Archie Kerracher, gives more detail of what happened before this. It quotes a latter from 1672 in which James, Lord Drummond wrote:
"There was near there a round opening like the mouth of a narrow well, of a great depth, into which my grandfather ordered a malefactor to go, who (glad of the opportunity to escape hanging) went and brought up a spur and buckle of brass, which were lost the time a garrison of Oliver's [Cromwell] dispossessed us of Drummond [Castle]"
He also found an inscribed stone from Roman times which is now in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.
In 1690, another condemned man was offered the choice of execution of descending into the pit. He was lowered down on a rope, and brought up spears and helmets, and said that there was more treasure further down. But when he was lowered down a second time, he died from the gases in the shaft. The treasure was kept at Ardoch House until it was looted in 1715 by Argyll's army after the Battle of Sheriffmuir.
In 1695 the camp was examined by Sir Robert Sibbald who published his report in his Scotia Aniqua, and he said that there were caves or vaults below the camp.
In 1795, Rev. John Scott wrote in the Old Statistical Account of Scotland:
"there was a subterranean passage from the smaller camp, under the bed of the river is more than probable. There was a hole by the side of the praetorium that went in a sloping direction for many fathoms in which, it was generally believed, treasures as well as Roman aniquities might be found"
One hundred years later, in 1896, there were excavations at the camp which discovered shafts of seven or eight foot diameter going straight down under the camp, but which couldn't be excavated properly because of the cost of shoring them up.
One of my neighbours, who is about 60 (not Mrs Currie, she is much older), remembered their grandparents telling them about playing in a tunnel near the village, which they called "the roman tunnel". They couldn't remember where the entrance was, only that it was in trees, and it was far too dark to explore far. But was this tunnel a different one, or a different entrance to the one described in the book ?
So could I find it ?
But was it a hoax?
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