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Antonine Wall, 855m WSW to 605m ENE of Wester Shirva

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar, East Dunbartonshire

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Latitude: 55.9516 / 55°57'5"N

Longitude: -4.1118 / 4°6'42"W

OS Eastings: 268230

OS Northings: 675184

OS Grid: NS682751

Mapcode National: GBR 15.Y06V

Mapcode Global: WH4PW.TN5T

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 855m WSW to 605m ENE of Wester Shirva

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1960

Last Amended: 26 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM727

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Kirkintilloch

County: East Dunbartonshire

Electoral Ward: Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire


The monument comprises a section of the Antonine Wall that survives as the buried remains of the ditch, berm and rampart, located through aerial photography and geophysical survey. Approximately 1.48km in length, this section of the Antonine Wall runs from a point 100m W of Shirva Dyke Kennels to Shirva Farm. From Shirva Dyke Kennels it runs on an ENE course for 840m through pasture fields to the N of the B8023 road. Immediately to the NE of Wester Shirva farm, the line of the Antonine Wall is crossed by the B8023 and proceeds to the ENE course through pasture fields on the S of the public road. At a point approximately 85m NE of Wester Shirva the Antonine Wall turns to the NE, crosses the Board Burn and continues to the NE through pasture fields on the S side of the B8023. At a point approximately 275m NE of Wester Shirva the line of the Antonine Wall continues on the N side of the road to the high ground now occupied by Shirva Farm. The monument was first scheduled in 1960; this rescheduling corrects the boundaries of the scheduled area in light of recent surveys and excavations.

Dating to the mid- to late second 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 is mainly visible as the cropmarks of the rampart and ditch. Visible on aerial photographs of the monument, the cropmarks represent negative or buried archaeological features that retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil resulting in the variant growth of the crops above. Additionally, there are indistinct surface traces of the rampart and ditch. In places the rampart appears as a heavily spread mound while the ditch is visible as a distinct terrace.

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 fences, field walls and field gates to allow for their maintenance. The property boundary, gardens and buildings of Shirva Dyke Kennels are excluded from the rescheduling. The above-ground elements of the concrete revetment of the Board Burn are also excluded to allow for its 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 been partially excavated. Earthworks of the ditch are depicted on the 3rd edition of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map, although these are no longer as evident today. Excavations in the 1970s and 1980s found the well-preserved stone foundation of the rampart and the S edge of the ditch. The line of the Antonine Wall in this area has been confirmed through geophysical survey, correcting the hypothetical line proposed by Sir George MacDonald in 1934, which remained largely unchanged until the 1990s. Although most of this stretch of the frontier is no longer visible as earthworks, remains of the stone foundation of the rampart, the berm and the ditch survive beneath the topsoil.

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 good potential for the recovery of environmental samples from ancient ground surfaces sealed by the rampart and from the fills of the ditch. This type of information helps us improve our knowledge of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was built and in use.

Contextual characteristics

The Antonine Wall, established in the early 140s AD, 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. UNESCO 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. The earthworks of the rampart and ditch are depicted as visible features on the Ordnance Survey 2nd and 3rd editions of the 1:2500 map.

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 rampart. Such information has the potential to enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. This stretch of the Antonine Wall is an important survival, with the ditch, berm and stone foundation of the rampart all preserved as buried features, because the area has been subjected to intensive cultivation in the past. The loss of the monument would impede our ability to understand the construction, maintenance and occupation of the frontier and would erode the overall importance of the Antonine Wall as a single linear monument spanning central Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




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

Dunwell D et al 2002, 'EXCAVATIONS ON THE ANTONINE WALL', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 132, 2002, 271-79.

GSB, 2007, ANTONINE WALL PHASE III: SHIRVA, Unpublished report.

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


Keppie L J F 1998, ROMAN INSCRIBED AND SCULPTURED STONES IN THE HUNTERIAN MUSEUM, University of Glasgow, Exeter: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 15-18, 113-17, pl. xvi-xix.

Macdonald G 1934, THE ROMAN WALL IN SCOTLAND, Clarendon Press: Oxford, 148-50.

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

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