The monument, of Swedish granite and ten feet high, is of an exaggerated Roman altar, in the style of that set up by Gaius Arrius Domitianus, centurion of the Twentieth Legion at Trimontium in the second century, with a libation bowl (the ‘focus’) set between ‘bolsters’ on top. Erected by the Edinburgh Border Counties Association and unveiled by Dr James Curle at a ceremony attended by three hundred people on 8 August 1928, it reads as follows:
“Here once stood the fort of Trimontium, built by the troops of Agricola in the first century AD, abandoned at least twice by the Romans, and ultimately lost by them after fully one hundred years of frontier warfare”.
In accordance with the first half of the statement, it is accepted that the Roman occupation of the area covered two periods – 80 to 105 AD and 140 to 185 AD. It is now thought, however, that after the native defeat at Mons Graupius and because of the vast technical superiority of the Roman army, it was not so much ‘warfare’ that occupied the troops but holding and policing the country. This would have entailed: maintaining communications and supplies by road, bridge and river; negotiating with the tribal chiefs; trading with the natives; raising taxes; and acting as the front-line protection of the province of Britannia which lay to the South.