Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: North of the wall.

As information comes in, it improves our evidence database allowing us to portray a better and more accurate picture of our family and ancestors. Some research is still in the early stages but the information below covers a landscape that is important to us.

A section of Hadrians wall taken from the entrance to Banna, now known as Birdoswald, looking east. (copyright GC 2022)

A paper published by Dr Manuel Fernandez-Gotz, head of the Department of Archaeology at Edinburgh University, Prof Derek Hamilton of Glasgo University Professor (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre) and Dave Cowley, a field surveyor and Deputy Head of Survey and Recording (Archeological Survey) Historic Environment Scotland et al, in Antiquity 2022 pg 1-9 was covered in a Scottish Newspaper, Mail Online by Sam Tonkin on the 25th May 2022. This article covered the work being carried out through the Leverhulme Trust.

The project

Beyond Walls: Reassessing Iron Age and Roman Encounters in Northern Britain (CoI) (The Leverhulme Trust) – This project aims to fundamentally transform our understanding of Rome’s impact on northern Britain. To contextualise the Roman influence, “Beyond Walls” will analyse the transformation of settlement patterns and lifestyles in an area extending from c. 40 km south of Hadrian’s Wall to 40 km north of the Antonine Wall. The project will adopt a long-term perspective from 500 BC to AD 500 to facilitate the study of changes and continuities before, during, and after the period of direct Roman presence in the region. Adopting an interdisciplinary and multi-scalar approach, the project will focus on rationalising existing survey and excavation data, generating new information through remote sensing and palaeoenvironmental research, and undertaking an ambitious programme of radiocarbon dating and modelling to refine existing chronological frameworks. This combined strategy will produce more robust and nuanced narratives about Roman and indigenous interactions, and also contribute to the wider subject of cultural encounters on the edges of empires, both past and present. 

However it was covered in an excellant manner and in laymans terms in the newspaper article below.

But why is it interesting to us as Carruthers, well it is analysing data in and around Annandale where ouir family originate, offering exciting prospects to the origin of our name. The study area can be found here and as we can see in section 3, the lands cover those of our family.

Mail online article

Beyond the wall: Archaeologists discover over 130 new indigenous settlements north of Hadrian’s Wall from the time of Rome’s occupation

  • Over 130 new indigenous settlements from around time of Rome’s occupation found north of Hadrian’s Wall
  • Work on Hadrian’s Wall started in AD 122 to mark northernmost border of Roman Empire for around 20 years
  • Rome expanded further and built the Antonine Wall across the centre of what is now Scotland to defend gains
  • But this occupation only lasted for a brief period and the frontier line ultimately moved back to Hadrian’s Wall


PUBLISHED: 00:01, 25 May 2022 | UPDATED: 00:07, 25 May 2022

More than 130 new indigenous settlements have been discovered north of Hadrian’s Wall from the time of Rome’s occupation. Work on the 73-mile (118km) structure started in AD 122, which was to mark the northernmost border of the Roman Empire for around 20 years. 

But Rome expanded further and built the Antonine Wall across the centre of what is now Scotland to defend these new gains. This occupation only lasted for a brief period and the frontier line ultimately moved back to Hadrian’s Wall. 

Previous research on the region between these two walls has focused predominantly on the Roman perspective, studying the forts, roads, camps, and walls they used to control northern Britain. Now, a team of archaeologists have set out to better understand the indigenous communities living in this frontier region.

Although part of the area had been extensively studied in the past, the team discovered 134 previously unrecorded Iron Age settlements in the region, bringing the total to over 700.  While many larger sites were already known, the survey has discovered many small farmsteads. Experts said these were important because they represent the settlements within which the majority of the indigenous population lived.

This is one of the most exciting regions of the Empire, as it represented its northernmost frontier, and also because Scotland was one of very few areas in Western Europe over which the Roman army never managed to establish full control,’ said lead author Dr Manuel Fernández-Götz, from the University of Edinburgh. 

Within the framework of a large Leverhulme-funded project, the team plans to examine the area from Durham to the southern Scottish Highlands. The initial phase of their work focused on the region around Burnswark hillfort in Scotland. 

This is the site of the greatest concentration of Roman projectiles found in Britain, witness to the firepower that Rome’s legions could bring to bear on those who opposed them. The archaeologists have been expanding beyond Burnswark, studying LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data from the surrounding 579 square miles (1,500 km2) with the support of the British Academy. They said their discovery will help to paint a fuller picture of the ancient landscape, revealing often dense distributions of sites dispersed across the region with a regularity that speaks of a highly organised settlement pattern. 

The important thing about the discovery of many previously unknown sites is that they help us to reconstruct settlement patterns,’ said co-investigator Dr Cowley, from Historic Environment Scotland, ‘individually they are very much routine, but cumulatively they help us understand the landscape within which the indigenous population lived.’ 

The archaeologists are also surveying notable discoveries in greater detail using geophysics and applying radiocarbon dating to gain a more complete picture of the settlements.

They hope to get a clearer picture of how life changed before, during, and after the Roman occupation, gaining a more complete view of this part of Iron Age Britain.For around three centuries, Hadrian’s Wall was a vibrant, multi-cultured frontier sprawling 80 Roman miles (73 miles / 118km) coast-to-coast.

Permanent conquest of Britain began in AD 43. By about AD 100 the northernmost army units in Britain lay along the Tyne–Solway isthmus. The forts here were linked by a road, now known as the Stanegate, between Corbridge and Carlisle.

Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and, according to a biography written 200 years later, ‘put many things to right and was the first to build a wall 80 miles long from sea to sea to separate the barbarians from the Romans.

Hadrian’s Wall became the north-west frontier of the Roman empire and crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.

A section of the wall at Banna, now known as Birdoswald Fort (Copyright GC 2022)

Built by a force of 15,000 men in under six years, it’s comprised of Milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts. Among these are the forts of Banna, now known as Birdoswald, the town of Corbridge and the auxiliary fort of Vindolanda, to the south of the wall.

Hadrian’s Wall resisted all comers in its day and defended an empire that stretched from Britain in the west to Jordan in the east. It was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.


As information comes in regarding the discoveries, they will be analysed and if pertinent, shared. As it stands this is an exciting project as it will hopefully confirm our own thoughts regarding Birrin Hill and the fort of Caer Ruthers.

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