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Digital Subscriptions > History Scotland > History Scotland Sep -Oct 2019 > THE BUZZART DYKES PARK LANDSCAPE


A view into Scotland’s medieval environment

Dr Kevin Malloy reports on the results of recent archaeological investigation into Buzzart Dykes in Perth and Kinross, long believed in local legend to be the remnants of a Roman encampment associated with the battle of Mons Graupius, but in reality a valuable and well-preserved example of a medieval deer park

A view of the western bank and ditch of Buzzart Dykes as it runs across glacial eskers

Viewing these vestiges that still remain of the great battle for freedom which took place here over eighteen hundred years ago, no Scotsman could but feel moved with emotion and patriotic pride when he recalls to mind those stirring times.

With dramatic fiair, Alex M. Scott expressed, nearly a century ago, the sense of patriotism invoked by visiting an all but forgotten piece of Scottish landscape. Tucked away just outside of Blairgowrie, in Perth and Kinross, Scott was referring to the magnificent remains of a great Caledonian encampment, a relic of the legendary Roman battle of Mons Graupius – or at least, so he believed. The story of Buzzart Dykes, an enigmatic earthwork enclosure that encompasses roughly 300 acres, is a compelling tale of how local tradition and pride in one’s cultural heritage can obfuscate historical reality. For many years, the site of Buzzart Dykes was argued to have been associated with or even been the location of the famed battle described by Tacitus, as the structure seemed indicative of a military camp, and reminiscent of sites like the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil. This designation, however, appears to have originated in the late 18th century, but persisted until the mid-20th century, when O.G.S. Crawford challenged local tradition by arguing that the site was not, in fact, related to the famed Roman battle, but had instead served as a medieval deer park. With the site’s interior ditch, as opposed to an exterior one, the enclosure would have been poorly defensible as a military encampment, and instead, more effective at keeping animals from escaping its confines. While the revelation that a long-lost encampment associated with a famous battle against Roman expansion was instead merely an enclosure designed for aristocratic hunting forays may seem disappointing, Buzzart Dykes in fact offers a unique glimpse into something far more complex and inherently more mysterious than medieval hunting practices. In essence, the site provides insight into how humans have shaped the environment and forged Scotland’s iconic landscapes over centuries of use.

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Don't miss Sep/Oct History Scotland and the launch of our Insider BONUS CONTENT! Highlights of this packed issue include: · The Sobieski Stuarts – new research on the remarkable brothers who popularised tartan and fooled a generation with their book Vestiarium Scoticum · New findings relating to the Traprain Law hoard – discovered in East Lothian 100 years ago this year · The Aberdeen Doctors – six men who dared to oppose the National Covenant · Lords of the Isles: a striking reconstruction of a medieval Islay power base * HISTORY SCOTLAND INSIDER: Exclusive interview, new video on the north east slavery legacy, exclusive discounts from heritage partners.​