A number of sherds of Samian, including one decorated fragment, have been identified during monitoring conducted by Rebecca Shaw Archaeological Services on the construction of an extension to a house in Old Kilpatrick. The work was required by West Dunbartonshire Council as a condition of planning consent, on the advice of WoSAS, due to the position of the proposed development close to both the Antonine Wall and to the site of the Roman Fort that formed its western terminus. The second century AD Roman frontier installations have recently been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. While much of the Antonine Wall is legally protected as a scheduled monument, the area of the development is not currently designated in this way, as the line of the wall has been previously overbuilt by housing. Despite this, it was felt that development in the vicinity of the fort and frontier line still had the potential to raise significant archaeological issues.
The house proposed for extension lies close to the presumed line of the Military Way, the main road into and out of the fort which also connected the various frontier installations. It is also located in an area where it has been suggested that there might have been a vicus, or civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort. Archaeological work elsewhere along the Wall line in recent years has identified remains of informal settlements and field systems which may have serviced the non-military needs of the garrisons of some of the Roman installations, or which may have been home to unofficial dependents of the soldiers. It would be of considerable archaeological significance if the existence of such a settlement or of any other ancillary features next to the fort was to be confirmed at Old Kilpatrick.
The pottery identified during monitoring was found within a disturbed context, from material backfilling a service trench rather than being associated with in situ features or deposits. While the material has therefore been removed from its original context, it is unlikely to have travelled far, suggesting that the pottery was on or close to the site when the original house was built. There are a number of possible explanations for its presence; it may be associated with occupation in an annexe outside the main fort, or with civilian settlement in an associated vicus. Another possibility is that it may be related to a shrine or alter along the line of the Military Way, as Roman burials typically took place outside settlement boundaries. The pottery will now be subject to further analysis as part of the post-excavation process