Redcoats re-enact landmark survey at Roman Camp

Detail of survey chain, a piece of equipment used to measure distances in the 18th century. Photo courtesy of Archibald Photography

Detail of survey chain, a piece of equipment used to measure distances in the 18th century. Photo courtesy of Archibald Photography

An 18th century re-enactment of a survey of Cleghorn Temporary Roman Camp  (central Scotland) by visionary cartographer Major General William Roy took place in the Clyde and Avon valleys on Friday 10th July.

Roy was a military engineer, surveyor, and antiquarian. He was an innovator who applied new scientific discoveries and newly emerging technologies to the accurate geodetic mapping of Great Britain. It was Roy’s enthusiasm and leadership that led to the creation of the Ordnance Survey, a year after his death, in 1791.

General Roy’s Military Survey of Scotland (1745-1755) was the first systematic survey of mainland Scotland, created due to the 1745 Jacobite uprising, its main purpose was to identify settlements, roads and routes across the country.

Major-General William Roy surveying Cleghorn Temporary Roman Camp with his team of Hanoverian Soldiers. Photo courtesy of Archibald Photography

Major-General William Roy surveying Cleghorn Temporary Roman Camp with his team of Hanoverian Soldiers. Photo courtesy of Archibald Photography

Trying out 18th century techniques

In full 18th century costume and using period cartographic survey chains and flags the CAVLP Heritage team, in the guise of William Roy and four military assistants, undertook the survey of the Temporary Roman Camp near Lanark. The site was first discovered and mapped by Roy in 1764 as part of his first comprehensive survey of Roman antiquities in Northern Britain.

Marking 225 of years of Roy’s mapping legacy and launching a mapping project led by CAVLP Heritage, the re-enactment was preceded with a pilgrimage to the monument at Roy’s birthplace nearby in Miltonhead, Carluke.  Using the luxury modern transportation method of a car, the team then headed to Forestry Commission managed Camp Woods near Lanark to explore the finer details of 18th century surveying.

By trying the techniques which would have been used in the 18th century, we gained even more respect for what it would have taken Major-General William Roy to survey the whole of Scotland by hand,” said Gavin MacGregor, Project Manager of the CAVLP Heritage Programme and a Director at Northlight Heritage.

Mapping the Past

The following day, the team hosted a Meet and Greet event with local heritage groups and societies to launch ‘Mapping the Past.’ The local mapping project will help people explore the archaeology and heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valleys through map based learning, research, design and making. Both map based research and creative crafting map workshops will be offered to local groups over the summer and autumn.

CAVLP Heritage is a programme of heritage projects delivered by Northlight Heritage as a partner of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), and supported by Historic Scotland and Renewable Energy Fund managed by South Lanarkshire Council.


Expect more fun events and activities celebrating the rich mapping heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valleys from the CAVLP Heritage team. Anyone who is interested can contact CAVLP Heritage at cavlp.heritage@gmail.com for further details, or follow them on Facebook at  or on Twitter to keep up to date with events and workshops.

Photographs courtesy of Archibald Photography