Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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

Antonine Wall, 80m WSW of Seabegs Place

A Scheduled Monument in Bonnybridge and Larbert, 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: 55.9939 / 55°59'37"N

Longitude: -3.8976 / 3°53'51"W

OS Eastings: 281734

OS Northings: 679502

OS Grid: NS817795

Mapcode National: GBR 1F.V6D0

Mapcode Global: WH4PT.3L8W

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 80m WSW of Seabegs Place

Scheduled Date: 3 June 1999

Last Amended: 26 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7744

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 that survives as a combination of the visible earthworks of the ditch, and the buried remains of the outer mound, berm, and rampart located through excavation. Approximately 270m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall runs from Seabegs Pend to beyond 3 Seabegs Place (also known as Seabegs farmhouse), on the south side of the B816 in the eastern outskirts of Bonnybridge. The monument was first scheduled in 1999; rescheduling is required to bring the existing schedule up to modern standards.

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 remains of the Antonine Wall consist of earthworks of the ditch, the south face of which is clearly visible and well preserved in the garden of Seabegs Place. Excavations between 1968 and 1972 were carried out in the fields immediately to the E and W of Seabegs Place farmhouse seeking to locate the site of a fort described in 1707 as being in this area by the antiquarian Robert Sibbald, who probably inspected the site around 1680. Although neither excavation yielded evidence of a fort, remains of the stone base of the rampart, which included two culverts, and the S lip of the ditch were discovered. In 2006 a geophysical survey of the field west of Seabegs Place farmhouse revealed what may be the line of the Military Way although this lies to the south of the area proposed for scheduling.

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 upper 300mm of all paths, the upper 500mm of driveways and hardstandings, the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, timber fences, stone walls, gates and electric transmission poles, 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 been partially excavated. In particular, the ditch survives to a significant degree in the grounds of Seabegs Place farmhouse. Excavation has demonstrated that the buried remains of the rampart survive in good condition, despite centuries of past cultivation and occupation. Situated in a landscape that has undergone industrial and urban development, this stretch of the Antonine Wall represents an important survival.

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 the ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart and from the fills of the ditch. Such information can 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 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 stretch of the Antonine Wall was first noted in 1707 by the antiquarian Robert Sibbald who described the remains of a 'great fort' at the eastern end of Seabegs Wood. However, subsequent 18th-century authorities on the Antonine Wall make no mention of these remains. Excavations in the 1960s and 1970s failed to locate any trace of a Roman fortification in this immediate area but, in 1977, a fortlet was found to the west of Seabegs Wood. Based on what is known of the spacing of forts and fortlets, it is now thought unlikely that there was a fort near Seabegs Place. General William Roy's 1747-57 Military Survey of Scotland and his posthumous Roman Military Antiquities of North Britain, published in 1793, both depict the line of the Wall as a visible feature running through Seabegs but show no evidence of a fort. The 2nd and 3rd editions of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 depict the Antonine Wall ditch, surviving almost complete in the grounds of Seabegs Place farmhouse. In the field to the south-west of the farmhouse, the ditch appears as a discontinuous earthwork, representing the S lip, partially overlain by the B816.

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 foundation of the rampart that would enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. This stretch of the Antonine Wall represents an important survival in an area that has been subjected to several centuries of cultivation, the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and 19th- and 20th-century urban development. The well-preserved earthworks visible in the gardens of Seabegs Place are particularly significant. 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

RCAHMS records the monument as NS87NW 32.

References:

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

GSB Prospection Ltd (2006) ANTONINE WALL II, unpublished report for Historic Scotland, 23-27, figs 6.1, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.7.

Hanson W S and Maxwell G S (1986) THE ANTONINE WALL: ROME'S NORTH WEST FRONTIER, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 74.

Docherty K, Price E J, and Price G J (1972) 'Seabegs Place Farm, Antonine Wall', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 40.

Macdonald G (1934) THE ROMAN WALL IN SCOTLAND (2nd ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 239-40.

Price E J and Price G J (1973) 'Seabegs Place Farm', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1973, 51.

Robertson A S and Keppie L J F (2001) THE ANTONINE WALL: A HANDBOOK TO THE SURVIVING REMAINS, Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society, 36, 45, 94-6.

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.