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Antonine Wall, 185m NNE of Castlecary House Hotel

A Scheduled Monument in Cumbernauld North, North Lanarkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9817 / 55°58'54"N

Longitude: -3.9468 / 3°56'48"W

OS Eastings: 278625

OS Northings: 678237

OS Grid: NS786782

Mapcode National: GBR 1C.W19L

Mapcode Global: WH4PS.BXS6

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 185m NNE of Castlecary House Hotel

Scheduled Date: 14 December 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11638

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Cumbernauld

County: North Lanarkshire

Electoral Ward: Cumbernauld North

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall, a World Heritage Site, which survives as the visible earthworks of the ditch. Approximately 20m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall lies around 185m NNE of Castlecary House Hotel and is situated in woodland between the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line and an unclassified road.

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, except between Falkirk and Bo'ness where 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 site, the remains of the Antonine Wall consist of substantial U-shaped earthwork. It is approximately 20m length, 12m wide and at least 1.5m deep. Fallen trees and vegetation, dumping and the accumulation of material from the construction of the adjacent railway embankment are likely to have altered the profile and depth of the ditch. On the N lip of the ditch there is a substantial bank overlooking the access road, but it is unlikely that this represents the outer mound, the upcast material from the excavation of the ditch that was formed into a broad obstacle. Considering the recent industrial history of the site, it is probable that the bank is modern tip material rather than the remains of the outer mound. However, this modern material has the potential to seal archaeological remains.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which traces of associated evidence relating to the use and construction of the monument may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

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. It represents a remarkable survival as it lies in an area that has undergone significant industrial development since the mid-19th century. This stretch of ditch retains a significant degree of its original form. 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 fills of the ditch that can improve our knowledge of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was built and in use. Although the mound on the N lip of the ditch may not be of any antiquity, it may have protected archaeological deposits below from further harm.

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. 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. This section of the ditch is described by Sir George Macdonald in 1934 who notes that it is the last remnant of a much longer stretch of the Antonine Wall visible at the end of the 19th century despite the construction of the railway embankment.

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 that would enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. Considering its condition, the monument represents an important survival in an area that has undergone substantial development since the middle of the 19th century. The loss of the monument would affect 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:

CFA Archaeology Ltd 2004, STRATHCLYDE HOMES, CASTLECARY ROAD: REPORT ON THE CONDITION OF THE ANTONINE WALL, unpublished report.

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 Ed, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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

Roy W 1793, THE MILITARY ANTIQUITIES OF THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN, by the Late William Roy, ..., London: W. Bulmer and Co/Society of Antiquaries of London.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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