About Orkney
 About the Site
 Search Site 
  Orkney's Brochs

The Lothian connection?

As is written elsewhere in this section, the majority of Scotland's brochs are found in the north-west of the country and the Northern and Western Isles.

Travelling south through Scotland, the concentration of brochs decreases, until after leaving the Highlands, there is an abrupt cut-off point - generally following the line of the Great Glen - and the brochs stop.

But not entirely - away down in the Forth Valley is evidence of a small number of brochs.

Southern brochs

From the architecture of these structures, scholars have confirmed the southern brochs were built according to the traditions of the far north, rather than the Hebrides.

This seems to indicate some form of connection between the people of the Northern Isles and those of the Forth.

According to the ancient writer Orosius, the chieftains of Orkney made a formal submission to the Roman Emperor Claudius at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in AD43.

Because these Orcadian chieftains were familiar with a sophisticated diplomatic manoeuvre used by Gaulish tribes to avoid devastation by the advancing Romans, it has been suggested that the Orcadians had recently arrived from the south.

Contact with the Romans?

Although this interpretation of Orosius has been challenged, we also know that the Roman general Agricola' s fleet circumnavigated Scotland during his fifth campaign around AD83 or 84.

Did these ships make contact with the broch-owning tribes of the far north? Could the Roman authorities have persuaded some of these - perhaps those with a history of diplomatic Roman contact - to come south and help keep recently-subjugated tribes under control? Perhaps even form an alliance with the Lothian tribe of the Votadini?

As the Votadini were under Roman rule, do we have an instance where the Orcadians were deployed southwards to strengthen the northern frontier of this Roman Britain?

This treaty would have ensured the Roman forces could be assured of a friendly harbour during their forays to the north. If this was the case, were these Orcadian craftsmen were responsible for overseeing the construction of the southern brochs?

If so, we are left with a tantalising Orkney connection with the later legends surrounding the mythical King Arthur. Within the literature, one of Arthur's foes is Lot, King of Orkney and Lothian.

Does the mythology surround this Dark Ages leader of the Britons contain remnants of an ancient, forgotten alliance between the people of Orkney and the people of Lothian?

Section Contents

See Also

Back a page