The written histories of Rome provide the first opportunity to identify actual people and events. They tell of the conquests of Julius Agricola, military governor of the Roman province of Britain who led his armies beyond the Cheviot Hills and into what is now Scotland in c.AD78-79. His victories were followed up by the construction of forts and military roads, the chief of which ran from the legionary fortress at York to the northern frontier beyond the River Tay. In the AD120s the northern limit of the Roman Province was marked by Emperor Hadrian, who had a wall constructed to the south between the Rivers Tyne and Solway. In c.AD139-142 his successor Antoninus Pius pushed the frontier north again to the Forth-Clyde line, and the Southern Uplands were once again incorporated into the Empire. By the later 2nd century Hadrian’s Wall was once more the Roman frontier, although a further attempt to reconquer north Britain was made by Emperor Septimius Severus in the early 3rd century.
The main Roman fort in the Borders was based at Trimontium (Melrose), where the road from York crossed the Tweed. The fort took its name, “Three Peaks” from the Eildon Hills close by, and strategic reasons for its location probably included control of the large enclosure on North Hill, which has produced evidence of use at this time. The Latin sources which give us the name of Trimontium also tell us of two native peoples, the Selgovae and their neighbours, the Votadini, whose territories are generally considered to have included the Borders.