Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Antonine Wall, 75m ESE of Craigellachie

A Scheduled Monument in Lower Braes, Falkirk

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9953 / 55°59'42"N

Longitude: -3.704 / 3°42'14"W

OS Eastings: 293814

OS Northings: 679344

OS Grid: NS938793

Mapcode National: GBR 1N.V7TR

Mapcode Global: WH5R1.2KGT

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 75m ESE of Craigellachie

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1972

Last Amended: 26 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9721

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Grangemouth

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Lower Braes

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall that survives as the buried remains of the rampart, while the ditch remains visible as a gentle hollow at the W end of the scheduled area. Approximately 190m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall begins at the W bank of the Millhall Burn, around 155m E of Craigellachie, and proceeds west on a broadly E-W course through the grounds of the Grangemouth Gospel Church. The frontier ascends a moderate slope and runs along the shoulder of a prominent ridge before it is cut by Bo'ness Road (a public highway) at a point around 55m SW of Craigellachie A double line of poplar trees marks the approximate line of the rampart for around 100m. The monument was first scheduled in 1992, but an inadequate area was included to protect the full extent of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

Dating to the mid-2nd century AD, the Antonine Wall comprised five 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 approximately 12m in width and around 3.6m in depth with a rectangular slot cut into its base. 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. The rampart was constructed of turf blocks standing on a stone base around 4.3m in width. From Falkirk to Bo'ness, the rampart was composed of an earth core faced with clay cheeks. Generally, the stone base comprised 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 site, the Antonine Wall consists of the buried remains of the rampart's stone foundations, identified in 1912-13 by Sir George Macdonald as part of a wider campaign of trial trenching in the area. A gentle hollow, visible at the W end of the scheduled area, represents the ploughed remains of the Antonine Wall ditch. This hollow is visible in the churchyard of Polmont Old Church on the W side of Bo'ness Road.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, the above-ground elements of the boundary wall on the W side of the area, the upper 50cm of all hardstandings and road surfaces, and the upper 30cm of all paths, 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 undergone limited excavation and a degree of cultivation, as the grounds were formerly an orchard subsequently redeveloped as a market garden. The monument therefore 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 good potential for the recovery of environmental samples from ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart and from the fills of the ditch. Such material has the potential to improve 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 and fortlets 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, possibly after AD 165, 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 World Heritage Committee of UNESCO approved the addition of the Antonine Wall on 7 July 2008.

Sir George Macdonald carried out trial excavations in 1912-13 here to locate the line of the wall. Reporting on his findings in 1914, Macdonald noted that the work was hampered by the orchard that occupied most of the site.

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. The monument has high 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 the fills of the ditch and from ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart. Material of this type has good potential to enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The hollow of the ditch is an important survival in an area that has been improved and regularly cultivated since at least the early 19th century. The loss of the monument would impede our ability to understand the frontier and would erode the overall importance of the Antonine Wall as a single linear monument spanning central Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

References:

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

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

Macdonald G 1915, 'Some recent discoveries on the line of the Antonine Wall', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 49, 134-8.

Macdonald G 1934, THE ROMAN WALL IN SCOTLAND, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 114, 117, 120.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.