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Antonine Wall, 495m WSW and 125m south east of Bonnyside House

A Scheduled Monument in Bonnybridge and Larbert, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9967 / 55°59'48"N

Longitude: -3.8728 / 3°52'21"W

OS Eastings: 283292

OS Northings: 679779

OS Grid: NS832797

Mapcode National: GBR 1F.VCXJ

Mapcode Global: WH4PT.HJ1P

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 495m WSW and 125m SE of Bonnyside House

Scheduled Date: 27 January 2005

Last Amended: 26 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8207

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Falkirk

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bonnybridge and Larbert

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall, a World Heritage Site, which survives as the visible earthworks of the outer mound, ditch, berm and rampart. Approximately 580m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall runs from a point 495m WSW of Bonnyside House across open pasture north of Elf Hill, and through the wooded grounds of Bonnyside House to a boundary 125m south-east of this property. The section of Military Way runs in a straight line for approximately 130m from the foot of Elf Hill on the N shore of a large pond known as St Helen's Loch to the access road to Rough Castle. The monument was first scheduled in 1961 and rescheduled in 2005 but an inadequate area was defined to protect all of the archaeological remains; the present scheduling rectifies this.

Dating to the mid-second century AD, the Antonine Wall comprised five linear elements: an outer mound, a broad V-shaped ditch, an open area of ground, the rampart and an associated road known as the Military Way. In general the Wall ditch was a broad and V-profiled earthwork, measuring 12m wide at its maximum and around 3.6m in depth. The outer mound was formed with upcast on the N lip of the ditch that created an additional obstacle and heightened the N slope of the ditch. An open area of ground, known as the berm, separated the ditch from the rampart and excavations at several locations have revealed evidence of pits. These are interpreted as a defensive feature known as 'lilia', rows of pits containing sharp wooden stakes. A cluster of lilia pits are preserved at the fort of Rough Castle. Lilia pits were probably disguised and arranged in off-set rows to prevent attackers running straight across. The rampart was constructed of turf blocks standing on a stone base around 4.3m in width although between Falkirk and Bo'ness, the rampart was composed of an earth core faced with clay cheeks. Generally, the stone base comprised a single course of roughly squared outer kerbs with a rubble core and incorporated culverts, box-like stone-lined channels that allowed water to drain through the rampart more efficiently.

At this location, the Antonine Wall consists of the rampart, the broad V-shaped ditch, the berm (the area between the rampart and ditch) and the outer or upcast mound. They are particularly prominent where the Wall runs through the open field to the rear of Park Street and north of Elf Hill. The access road to Rough Castle cuts through the line of the Wall, but the remains are similarly well-preserved on the other side of it, in the grounds of Bonnyside House, where there is a feature known as an expansion on the south side of the rampart, measuring approximately 10m E-W by 7m N-S. Expansions are turf platforms on a stone base which were built against the southern side of the Antonine Wall rampart, and which appear to occur in pairs close to forts. There is a second expansion 300m to the east, and a second pair to the east of Rough Castle. Expansions are thought to have been used as watchtowers, beacons or signal posts. The line of the Military Way is visible as an 8m broad cambered grassy track and is depicted on Ordnance Survey maps as a path and remains in use as such.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which related remains may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the access road to Rough Castle and the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, field gates and boundary walls and fences, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a well-preserved part of the Antonine Wall that has not been excavated. Running through an area that has undergone heavy industrial development, the monument is an important and remarkable survival. Retaining an extensive degree of its original form, the monument is part of a long section of the frontier visible as earthworks. The potential for the survival of buried deposits is very high as there appears to have been little cultivation or later disturbance of the site.

The monument possesses good potential to provide high-quality archaeological evidence relating to the date, construction, maintenance and subsequent abandonment of the Antonine Wall and Roman frontier systems in general. There is excellent potential for the recovery of environmental samples from the fills of the ditch and from ancient ground surfaces sealed by remains of the rampart as excavations on the line of the Antonine Wall elsewhere in Bonnybridge have yielded a wealth of organic remains from the ditch. Such evidence offers excellent potential to enhance our knowledge of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was built and in use.

Contextual characteristics

The Antonine Wall, established in the years following AD 142, represents Scotland's most significant Roman antiquity. Measuring 60km in length, the Wall spans the narrow neck of land between Bo'ness on the River Forth and Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. Incorporating a continuous system of wall and ditch, the Wall is accompanied at regular intervals by forts, fortlets and other structures linked by a road system. Archaeologists believe the layout of the frontier underwent alteration either during or immediately after construction with more forts being added, reducing the distance between garrisons. The Wall is one of only three linear barriers to be found along the 2000km European frontier of the Roman Empire, the other examples being Hadrian's Wall and the Rhine limes, and these are unique to Germany and Britain. However, the Antonine Wall is unique in the disposition of its forts at such close intervals and in the use of a turf superstructure on a stone foundation, an adaptation unparalleled elsewhere in the Roman Empire.

Like other Roman frontiers, the Antonine Wall was intended to control and monitor cross-border movement into Roman-controlled territory rather than acting as a fortification to halt massed attack. However, it is likely that the frontier's physical presence in the landscape, a continuous barrier spanning central Scotland, discouraged small-scale local raiding.

The Antonine Wall has a close relationship with the topography of central Scotland. Much of the frontier occupies the southern edge of the valley formed by the Rivers Kelvin and Carron, a position that offered the Antonine Wall wide-ranging views over the Kilsyth Hills, the Campsie Fells, and Kilpatrick Hills and meant that it was widely visible in the landscape. The route of the Antonine Wall also has commanding views over natural communication routes.

The Antonine Wall formed part of the wider Roman reoccupation of Scotland. This comprises a web of roads interconnecting the forts and fortlets controlling the area to the south of the Wall. To the north of the frontier a chain of outpost forts, linked by a road, extended from Camelon on the outskirts of Falkirk to Bertha on the outskirts of Perth.

Associative characteristics

The Antonine Wall was established by the Emperor Antoninus Pius (AD 138-61) after successful campaigning in AD 139-42 by the Governor of Britain, Quintus Lollius Urbicus. It replaced Hadrian's Wall as the Empire's most northerly frontier. The Wall remained in use until it was abandoned in the years after AD 158, when the Roman army withdrew from Scotland and the frontier line shifted again to Hadrian's Wall. The construction and purpose of the Antonine Wall exemplifies the wider system of military frontier management, termed limes, which stretched over the whole of the Roman Empire.

The Antonine Wall forms an extension to the existing transnational 'Frontiers of the Roman Empire' World Heritage Site that includes the German limes and Hadrian's Wall. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the addition of the Antonine Wall on 7 July 2008.

This section of the Antonine Wall appears on the several early maps of Scotland, notably those of Blaeu (1658), Roy (1747-55) and Moll (1745). Blaeu's map annotates the line of the Wall as 'Vestigia valli Romanorum quod videtur Agricolam aut Adrianum Primum posuisse' ('the remains of the Roman fortification which it seems Agricola or Hadrian first built'), a reminder that it was not until the 1690s that scholars were agreed upon the date, provenance and even location of the Antonine Wall.

National Importance

The monument is nationally important because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular the Antonine Wall and the character of Roman frontier systems more generally. Surviving as well-preserved earthworks, the monument has excellent potential to add to our understanding of the dating, construction, maintenance and subsequent abandonment of the Antonine Wall. There is good potential for the recovery of dateable remains and environmental samples from ancient ground surfaces sealed by remains of the rampart and [from the fills of the ditch. Such evidence has the capacity to enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The survival of a section of ditch as an earthwork feature and the lack of industrial development significantly enhance the importance and archaeological potential of this monument. The loss of the monument would affect our ability to understand the frontier and would erode the importance of the Antonine Wall as a whole.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NS87NW 32.0.

References:

Breeze D J 2006, THE ANTONINE WALL, John Donald: Edinburgh.

Hanson W S and Maxwell G S 1986, THE ANTONINE WALL: ROME'S NORTH WEST FRONTIER, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Macdonald G 1934, THE ROMAN WALL IN SCOTLAND, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Robertson A S and Keppie L J F 2001, THE ANTONINE WALL: A HANDBOOK TO THE SURVIVING REMAINS, Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society.

Steer K A 1957, 'The nature and purpose of expansions on the Antonine Wall', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 90, 161-9.

Woolliscroft D J 1996, 'Signaling and the design of the Antonine Wall', BRITANNIA 27, 153-73.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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