Trimontium brought to the fore by drought

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A supermarket manager who makes videos of the Scottish Borders in his spare time has discovered the remarkable outline of the massive Roman fort at Trimontium, near Melrose, uncovered due to drought conditions.

Mark Nicol, manager at the new Aldi store in Hawick, films and stars in a series of mini-movies which began as a toungue-in-cheek look at the area, but his love of history and the Borders always shines through.

The “Discover Scottish Borders” YouTube channel has an ever-growing audience waiting on his next film – from overseas as well as in the Borders.

And on the back of this, he has even taken groups of visitors on tours showing them round the visual wonders he has shown online.

But his latest find, filmed by drone following reports of other archaeological finds being spotted in the area, has shocked even him.

In his film he says he got the idea by watching a programme about the ancient metropolis of Babylon, which is mostly hidden from view apart from a statue of a lion, which rises from the sand in the middle of Iraq.

He muses: “Where in the Scottish Borders was our Babylon? Our metropolis, our hub of religion and culture and heritage? And where is our lion emerging from the sand?

“Well, I have to tell you that today, I’ve found my lion.”

His drone film shows the historic Roman fort in more detail than it has ever been seen before. The drought conditions have seen the areas where the walls lie become visibly more yellow because of heightened drainage.

And while overall, it’s subtle, it is absolutely astonishing.

The features which had been mapped out by the original archaeologists of the site show up clearly from the air.

The footage shows the outlines of the main entrance and the east gate. It even picks out a forked road in the middle of the site.

Mark said the problem with Trimontium being much of a pull for visitors is that in normal conditions you can’t see anything.

But he thinks with a little bit of forethought and funding, Trimontium could be a huge draw.

He says, pointing out the tourist information board: “I am a great believer that we could really ressurect this place as a tourist attraction.

“Hadrian’s Wall is this massive worldwide tourist attraction, and here is nothing.”

The board shows pictures of artefacts found on the site, such as wine pitchers and brass face masks.

He said: “Where are these things, they are not here. They should be in Melrose at the very least, or Newstead.

“And this site, through investment, could become absolutely magical.”