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Nails from THE PAST

This is an original Roman nail found in Scotland.

Iron nails of all sizes were made by the Roman legion's blacksmiths in their workshop (fabrica) by smelting the iron ore and forming the nails by hand, producing a square tapered nail with a large head. The larger nails were used to hold the wooden stockade around the fort in place. They were also used to bind the timber roofing of the fort buildings.

At the Roman fort of Inchtuthil in Perthshire, a hoard of over 875,000 iron nails weighing 7 tonnes was found.

General Julius Agricola, governor of  Britain, set out to defeat the Caledonians in the name of the Roman Empire during the first century AD. During this campaign, the 20th Legion of the Roman Army built the Legionary Fortress of Inchtuthil. This formidable fortress, one of the northern most forts of the Empire, would last as Agricola's base of operations from around 83 - 87 AD.

When the Romans abandoned the fort many of the nails from that site were unused, and in part at least the hoard must represent the contents of the legion's "stores". As they were too bulky to move south with the legion, they were hidden in a deep pit to ensure that the Caledonians would not find them. They were scared the Caledonians would melt the iron nails down and hammer them into weapons.

The ploy worked as, although the fortress had been known about since the 18th century, the nails were not actually found until 1961.

Read the full story on Inchtuthil.

Read the the fascinating lesson Inchtuthil provided for nuclear scientists today.

It is possible to view various Roman nails found at Roman forts called Bar Hill, on the Antonine Wall near Twechar, east of Kirkintilloch and Inchtuthil, in Perthshire, at the Hunterian Museum Glasgow.

Here is a nail similar in shape to the Roman nail made 2000 years on.



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