The Antonine Wall
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Antonine Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Built on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius in the years following AD 140, it ran for 40 Roman miles (60 km) from modern Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde.
The Antonine Wall was both a physical barrier and a symbol of the Roman Empire’s power and control. It was never a stone wall, but consisted of a turf rampart fronted by a wide and deep ditch. Forts and fortlets provided accommodation for the troops stationed on the frontier and acted as secure crossing points to control movement north and south. Behind the rampart, all the forts were liked by a road known as the Military Way. The wall was the most northerly frontier of the empire and, when it was built, was the most complex frontier ever constructed by the Roman army. It was the last of the linear frontiers to be built by the Romans and was only occupied for about a generation before being abandoned in the AD 160s.
The line of the wall crosses five modern local authorities (East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire) and there are a number of sites and museums in each of these areas.
Inscription and Significance
The Antonine Wall was inscribed by UNESCO
in 2008 becoming part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, along with Hadrian’s Wall (inscribed in 1987) and the German Limes (inscribed in 2005).
The Outstanding Universal Value of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire lies in the survival of the second century Roman frontier system across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, reflecting the development and breadth of Roman military architecture and power. The Antonine Wall incorporated many technical and design elements not seen in earlier frontiers, represented a physical manifestation of a change in Roman imperial foreign policy, and illustrates the technological skill of the army in frontier areas.
The Antonine Wall runs across central Scotland, from Old Kilpatrick in the West to Bo’Ness in the East.
Managing the Site
The Site is managed and cared for by East Dunbartonshire Council, Falkirk Council, Glasgow City Council, Historic Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council. The Site Management Plan 2014-19
guides sustainable management to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value. It was produced following a series of public workshops
, the preparation of an Environmental Report
, and a formal consultation period, the report on which is available here
Supplementary Planning Guidance
has been produced and adopted by all five of the local authorities. There is also an Interpretation Plan and Access Strategy.
Visiting the Site
Nearly 8 km of the Wall is in the care of Historic Scotland, including the best surviving stretch of ditch at Watling Lodge
, Falkirk; the earthworks of the fort together with the rampart ditch and Military Way at Rough Castle
, Bonnybridge; the rampart and ditch in Seabegs Wood
, Bonnybridge; the ditch and expansions on Croy Hill
; the fort on Bar Hill
, Twechar; and the bath-house and latrine at Bearsden
Several lengths of the Wall are in the ownership of local authorities including: the fort site at Kirkintilloch and the rampart base in New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Bearsden (East Dunbartonshire Council
); the fortlet at Kinneil, Bo’ness, and several lengths of the ditch including Callendar Park (Falkirk Council
); Cleddans Burn (Glasgow City Council
); Castlecary (North Lanarkshire Council
); and the fort-site and rampart base at Duntocher (West Dunbartonshire Council
More images of the Antonine Wall can be found on the Scottish Ten website
For further information contact:
The Antonine Wall World Heritage Site Coordinator
Edinburgh EH9 1SH