Archaeologists have long known that a fort once stood on the Scottish hill of Burnswark, and that large numbers of Roman soldiers once encamped on either side of it. Recently, they have become more certain of what occurred there: a massive Roman assault that marked the beginning of an invasion of the country in the year 140 CE. Part of the evidence involves the Bar Kokhba revolt, in which, a few years earlier, Rome crushed the last hopes of renewed Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. Willie Johnston writes:
Using metal detectors, it has been found that massive amounts of lead shot were fired [by slingshot] at the fort, and not in a way indicating target practice. More evidence is the known presence of General Lollius Urbicus, brought here from the Middle East to do the Emperor Antoninus’s dirty work.
John Reid, [an expert on the Roman presence in Scotland], says Urbicus had “previous” [experience]. “He made his name in the Jewish war that had taken place in Israel where legionaries had literally gone through the whole of Judea taking hill forts one after the other. . . . He was [thus subsequently] given the job of taking Scotland; we know that from Roman literary sources.” . . .
Many of the lead sling-bullets found at Burnswark have identical four-millimeter holes in them which, initially, was a mystery. . . [But] the effect of the hole became obvious when replicas were made and fired.
“You’d hear this screeching noise that you’ve never heard before or experienced before in your life,” explained the archaeologist Andrew Nicholson. . . . “You hear this keening sound through the air and the chap with the spear next to you drops dead and you wonder what on earth is doing it. You’d be utterly terrified.”
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