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Earlier Roman Influences?

The Romans visited the North East of Scotland (Pictland) relatively early in the
expansion of their Empire as can be seen in the brief look at the siting of Roman
Forts and Camps below. All of the Mithraea in Britain have been in Roman
military contexts. The appearance of Pictish Symbol Stones ties in with the
withdrawal of Roman troops

This is an overall timeline for the period under consideration:-

Romans Romans Christianity


arrive leave arrives

CE 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
100s
Roman Pictish
Mithraism Mithraism

There are high concentrations of Pictish Stones near sites of Roman Forts and
Marching Camps. Interestingly Glenmailen, Ythan Wells camps are considered
to have been large but the nearest Stones are about 5 miles distant near the
River Urie. Fort / Camp locations near rivers (not surprisingly as water was
needed for troops and animals) include Balnageith near Forres - the Findhorn;
Thomshill near Elgin the Lossie; Bellie near Speymouth - the Spey; Kintore
the Don. But, all of these are close to Stones.

The difficulty in making a connection between Roman presence and Stones is


timeframe. Despite a popular view that the North East of Scotland was
unconquered and then Roman free the locals must have presented a threat or a
strong desire not to be pacified over a long period (these were and are fertile
lands all along the coast to the foothills of the Grampians and nearby ranges).

Typically the construction of Hadrians Wall is seen as the main separator but
it was built after the Gask Ridge frontier system (broadly a north easterly line of
fortifications from Dunblane towards the coast at Stonehaven. In sequence, the
Gask Ridge fortifications were apparently constructed about 70 to 80 CE;
Hadrians Wall about 122 to 130; and the Antonine Wall about 142 with repairs
to Hadrians Wall around 208.
Within the army there was a Mithraic following (as apparently there was with
traders and merchants) and the construction of Mithraea by Hadrians Wall (at,
Housesteads, Carrawburgh and Rudchester) date back to the late 2nd / 3rd
century CE being out of use by the middle of the 4th century. The Roman army
began to leave Britain in 388 CE supposedly completely withdrawing by 410.
The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476.

Attribution: Gask Ridge; Wikipedia

there is no reason, therefore, to assume that the context in North East Scotland
should be any different. The author proposes that the presence of Roman
military establishments in North East Scotland has facilitated the
establishment of Mithraism in a geographic area hitherto not considered.