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Antonine Wall, north of Kinneil Primary School

A Scheduled Monument in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0107 / 56°0'38"N

Longitude: -3.6133 / 3°36'47"W

OS Eastings: 299508

OS Northings: 680928

OS Grid: NS995809

Mapcode National: GBR 1R.TB64

Mapcode Global: WH5R2.G5LY

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, N of Kinneil Primary School

Scheduled Date: 25 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11639

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Bo'Ness and Carriden

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bo'ness and Blackness

Traditional County: West Lothian

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall, a World Heritage Site, that survives as buried remains of the ditch, berm and wall-base located through excavation in 1989. It is approximately 170m in length and runs from the grounds of St Mary's Church to the W boundary of Kinneil Primary School's grounds.

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 offset 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 the S lip of the ditch, the berm incorporating what may be a Roman defensive feature and the stone base of the rampart that also included a collapsed culvert.

The area to be scheduled is rectangular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which related remains may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all boundary walls and fence, the top 30cm of all paths and 50cm of all tarmac areas and the concrete steps at the western gate onto Dean Road from Kinneil Primary School.

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 stretch of the Antonine Wall that has undergone partial excavation. Representing the easternmost point on the Antonine Wall where its remains have been identified, the monument represents a remarkable survival as the surrounding area was intensively cultivated in the 18th and early 19th centuries and was latterly developed as an ironstone mine with an associated mineral railway. Although damaged by ploughing and stone-robbing, the buried remains of the ditch, berm and stone foundations of the rampart retain their key characteristics. This includes the remains of a collapsed culvert and a potential Roman defensive feature found on the berm.

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 and from ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart. Such evidence can 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.

Documentary evidence suggests that this section of the Antonine Wall may have survived as a physical feature until at least the 17th century. In 1649 the Scottish Parliament passed an act creating the parish of Borrowstouness, separate and distinct from that of Kinneil. A feature known as Graham's Dyk', probably the line of the ditch, marked the southern boundary of the new parish of Borrowstouness. However it is important to note that the ditch is not depicted as a feature on General Roy's mid-18th century map, suggesting that it had been infilled.

The survival of the Wall in Bo'ness was first attested by George Macdonald's excavations in 1915, when he located part of the ditch near Kinneil House on the outskirts of the town. Further investigations, approximately 0.8km to the east and in the general vicinity of the 1995 excavations, failed to uncover any further trace of the frontier and several excavations have taken place within Bo'ness to locate further evidence of the Antonine Wall. The monument survived survival to the fact that it had been overlain by the junction of a field boundary that prevented complete destruction through ploughing. This field boundary is marked on an estate plan dated 1810 by R Bauchop but appears to have been removed by the mid 19th century when the site was developed as an ironstone mine.

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 ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart that would enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The discovery of a potential defensive feature in the berm enhances the significance of this stretch of the Antonine Wall. The monument represents a rare survival in an area that has been subjected to intensive cultivation and development for heavy industry. 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

RCAHMS record this site as NS98SE 82.01.

References:

Breeze D J 1991, 'Q Lollius Urbicus and A Claudius Charax, Antonine commanders in Britain', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 121, 227-230.

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.

Keppie L, Bailey G, Dunwell A, McBrien J and Speller K 1995, 'Some excavations on the line of the Antonine Wall, 1985-93', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 125, 606-10.

Macdonald G 1925, 'Further discoveries on the line of the Antonine Wall', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 59, 274-6, 279.

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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