Romans in Scotland


Today I welcome fellow Crooked Cat historical novelist Nancy Jardine, who writes – and talks – about Celtic/Roman Britain (among other things).  

Welcome Nancy – nice to see you again!

Hello, Tim. It’s been a while since I visited your blog and I’m delighted to come again today.

‘Ancient Romans Raikin’ Aroon The ‘Shire’

Something is happening this coming Sunday that I’ve not done before. Yes, you might imagine all sorts of scenarios for that, however…you probably know that authors get into all sorts of ploys to promote their books? Well, what’s happening on Sunday is that I’m doing an ‘author talk’ at a special lunch venue.

I’ve done plenty of author talks and power point presentations during the last couple of years but so far I’ve only been invited to imbibe a cup of tea or coffee, and eat some delicious sandwiches or homemade cake. By way of a change, on Sunday, I’m invited to eat lunch at an award ceremony in the city of Aberdeen before I do my short talk and this just might set a precedent that I’ll have to surpass in the future. Except I’m a slow eater and might be too nervous to either eat at all, or present my talk properly afterwards!

How did I come to be invited?

In 2015, I sold a lot of my paperback novels at various craft fairs around my home area of Aberdeenshire. At The Aboyne Highland Games, a very nice chap (let’s call him AL) and his wife stopped at my table to talk for a while. The man asked a number of questions about my books, in particular my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures covering AD 71-84. He was very enthusiastic about my choice of subject matter and the time period and wondered what made me choose to write about northern Britannia during the late first century. I think I just may have indicated that I’m quite enthralled, even obsessed, with the ancient Roman expansion into northern Britain and in particular the Agricolan and Severan campaigns in Scotland. Contrarily, I’m almost as fascinated by what the Roman Empire didn’t do in Scotland, since their presence was fleeting compared to other areas of the Empire.

We chatted about the fact that the ancient Romans left no stone buildings of note in northern Scotland. And that in central and southern Scotland there’s nothing like the villas and public buildings to be found in southern England…but there are stone remains of bath houses and some other fort buildings. I may also have made it clear that I find it very exciting that there’s still a whole gamut of possible remains, in wood traces especially, to be uncovered across Scotland. Many sites earmarked as that of Roman temporary occupation have never yet been properly excavated, so who knows what may still be uncovered there. I’m currently writing Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series and the bug to learn even more about Roman Scotland still grips me!

The Taexali Game, my teen time travel historical adventure had been recently published and that also caught AL’s eye. For a local, it’s easy to recognise the distinctive hilltop, Mither Tap of the Bennachie range, that’s visible on the cover. When I explained to AL that The Taexali Game is set in AD 210 during the northern campaign of the Emperor Severus, again pertinent questions came my way.

Final Nancy Jardine x 488

Whilst selling my books at craft fairs around the region, I’ve found it’s fairly common that many people have no idea that the ancient Roman army marched its way more than once to the Moray Coast of Aberdeenshire. There have been some who know that Roman armies came with General Agricola in AD 84 and had a battle in northern Scotland, later called The Battle of Mons Graupius, at an unnamed place that just might be at Bennachie. However, almost no-body knows that in AD 210 the Roman Emperor Severus and his son Caracalla marched northwards in Aberdeenshire with around 30,000 soldiers. I’m aware that some historians doubt that Severus came north since he was not a well man, being plagued with severe gout or painful arthritis and already in his sixties. However, there are sufficient other experts who don’t believe that Severus would have allowed his somewhat wayward son Caracalla to venture all the way north on his own. I also just might have mentioned to AL that I had a lot of fun including Severus and Caracalla as minor characters in The Taexali Game.

Though Books 1 and 2 of the Celtic Fervour Series are set mainly in Brigantia (present day Cumbria, Yorkshire and Northumberland), I emphasised to AL that Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks follows the travels of my Brigante warrior, Brennus, as he makes a long and circuitous journey into present day Scotland. Brennus wends his way all the way to the Garioch (pronounced Gee-ri) , the part of Aberdeenshire where I live. By then it’s AD 84 in the novel and my battle at Beinn Na Ciche is looming. I don’t name the battle in my Book 3 as the famed Battle of Mons Graupius but for me the location at present day Bennachie is a very possible battle site. The Roman marching camp at Durno, on the opposite side of the valley from Mither Tap of Bennachie, is thought to date to Agricola, and maybe also Severus. At 58 hectares it’s sizable enough to have held upwards of 30, 000 troops. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, Agricola probably had at least 23,000 men available at what was later named the Battle of Mons Graupius and Severus set out to march north with some 50,000 troops but probably lost around 20.000 of those in guerrilla warfare before reaching the Bennachie area.


I have a notice at my selling table pointing out that I am available for author talks and presentations on Roman Scotland and it was this which caught AL’s eye, hence the invitation to speak at the Luncheon

My main problem with my talk entitled ‘Ancient Romans Raikin’ Aroon The ‘Shire’ (raking around Aberdeenshire) is knowing when to shut up after some 20-30 minutes. How can I possibly tell all the assembled company all about my obsession?

If you’ve any hints…please tell! Leave a comment for me!

Many thanks, Tim, for the opportunity to share my news.

You are very welcome, Nancy – thanks for visiting, always fascinating to hear your insights into the early history of our island!  Good luck with your lunch talk – in response to your question, what I suggest is that you tell them “I’m sorry, that’s all I’ve got time to say – but you can read the rest in my books!”   

CFS words

Bio: Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series). She finds all historical eras are enticing to research about and ancestry research is a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs; loves to have guests invade her blog; and being on FaceBook is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds. Grandchild-minding takes up a few (very long) days every week and any time left is for gardening, reading, writing and watching news on TV( if lucky). Oh, and catching the occasional historical T.V. programme.   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.


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