Scotlands History

Damnonii, Novantae and Selgovae

By the time the Romans invaded North Britain in AD 78, the country was already divided into tribal territories.  The tribes had kings, nobles such as lords, warriors, priests and bards, freemen such as farmers and skilled craftsmen, and also bonded slaves. To the Romans they were all barbarians.

The Damnonii tribe may have had a settlement at Dumyat Hill near Stirling, with territory extending into the Clyde valley. Their capital in Roman times may have been a vast hill settlement on Walls Hill, near Howwood in Renfrewshire.

The Novantae tribe lived in the south west, present-day Galloway and Carrick (Ayrshire).  One of their towns, ‘Locopibium’, recorded by Ptolemy, may have been Whithorn or Wigtown. This area was later controlled by Roman forts at Glenlochar and Dalswinton.

The Selgovae tribe is thought to have bordered the Novantae. Selgovae is thought to mean ‘the people of the hunt’ or ‘the hunters’. For a long time historians associated the Selgovae with a massive hill fort on the north peak of the three Eildon Hills, near Melrose, but they are now thought to have lived farther to the south west in Galloway.

  • A photograph of a brass torc

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