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First Minister marks World Heritage success

3 September 2008

First Minister Alex Salmond will today (Wednesday, September 03) pay tribute to all the people who played a part in winning World Heritage Site status for the Antonine Wall.

The most northern frontier of the Roman Empire was named of global significance by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in July and Mr Salmond will tonight welcome many of those who worked on the bid to a reception at Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall.

The First Minister said:

“From the Firth of Forth to the Clyde, the Antonine Wall marks the point where the tide turned for the Roman Empire in Scotland. Built by Hadrian’s successor, Emperor Antoninus Pius, it is the furthest frontier and a testament to design and ambition – attributes that echo throughout Scottish history.

“With this wall added to Scotland’s collection of internationally recognised historic sites, Scotland can be hugely proud that so much of our heritage is recognised not only for its impact on our own evolution and identity but for its contribution to the World.

“Next year, with the Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, we have an opportunity to celebrate that contribution. The opening of the Antonine Wall Centre at the Hunterian Museum in 2009 will be a great addition to the cultural experience on offer and I hope that the newly achieved status of our great wall might even inspire returning friends and family to walk the Antonine Way!”

The nomination for World Heritage Site status began in March 2003 and was led by Historic Scotland officials with support from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and the five local authorities along the line of the Wall: East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire Councils. The Antonine Wall now joins Hadrian’s Wall and the German limes as part of the transnational Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

The Antonine Wall was the frontier built by the Roman army in the years following AD 140 on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. It ran for 40 Roman miles (60 km) from Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde and consisted of a turf rampart fronted by a wide and deep ditch. Forts provided accommodation for the troops based on the Wall as well as points where the Wall could be crossed. They were linked by a road, known as the Military Way. The frontier was only occupied for about a generation before being abandoned in the 160s.

During its occupation it was the most northerly frontier of the Roman empire, and, for its time, it was the most advanced frontier which the army had constructed.

The First Minister added:

“I want to thank the people who gave so much of their time, knowledge and passion to push forward the Antonine Wall World Heritage bid.

“Before the case for such recognition can be made there must be a great show of support and interest. The impressive enthusiasm that has driven the Antonine Wall bid at a local level is to be commended. Scotland’s fifth World Heritage Site was built by Roman legions, but its international reputation is built on the hard work of everyone here tonight.”


Notes for editors

  • Nearly one-third of the entire length of the Antonine Wall is in the care or ownership of central or local government. 58km of the 60km Wall survives either as impressive upstanding remains or below ground. Well preserved remains can be visited in nearly all the LA areas - East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire Councils

  • The Heart of Neolithic Orkney - The Heart of Neolithic Orkney was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1999. The Site is composed of the chambered tomb of Maeshowe, the Stones of Stenness, the Barnhouse Stone, the Watchstone, the Ring of Brodgar and associated funerary monuments and stone settings, and the Skara Brae settlement.

  • Edinburgh Old and New Towns - The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh was inscribed as a cultural World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the unique character of the Medieval Old Town and the Georgian planned New Town. It covers both the Old and New Towns together with ancient milling settlements on the Water of Leith and the key features include landscape, urban form and architecture, and history and heritage.

  • New Lanark - New Lanark is an eighteenth century restored cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde in Southern Scotland and was inscribed as a cultural World Heritage Site in 2001. New Lanark was created as a cotton-spinning village in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century and was transformed under the management of Robert Owen.

  • St Kilda - St Kilda is a group of five remote islands;  Hirta, Soay, Boreray, Dun and Levenisha which lie in the North Atlantic 100 miles off the west coast of Scotland. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1986 for its natural heritage. In 2004 this was extended to include its surrounding marine environment. The following year, following a successful re-nomination bid relating to its importance as a cultural landscape, St Kilda became one of the few World Heritage Sites to hold dual status for its natural and cultural qualities.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • RCAHMS has worked with Historic Scotland on the nomination to produce a map of the Antonine Wall, showing its course on a modern base at a scale of 1:25,000 and including areas where it can be visited.  The Map is now on sale from all good booksellers .

  • The legal status of the Antonine Wall does not change. The archaeological remains of the frontier are already protected through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, while the buffer zone is already designated as green belt or countryside land. It does not mean that development cannot take place near the Wall but that any which does must take account of its importance and does not damage the outstanding universal values of the World Heritage Site.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873