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Antonine Wall, 160m ENE to 155m north west of St Joseph's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Bonnybridge and Larbert, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9963 / 55°59'46"N

Longitude: -3.8809 / 3°52'51"W

OS Eastings: 282786

OS Northings: 679743

OS Grid: NS827797

Mapcode National: GBR 1F.VB3G

Mapcode Global: WH4PT.CK61

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 160m ENE to 155m NW of St Joseph's Church

Scheduled Date: 26 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12606

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, a World Heritage Site, which survives as a combination of the buried remains of the ditch, berm and rampart, and visible earthworks of the ditch. Approximately 65m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall runs west from a playing field approximately 160m ENE of St Joseph's on the N side of Broomhill Road, Bonnybridge, crosses through a car park situated within amenity woodland before turning WNW, and then proceeds for around 120m across an open field, appearing as a gentle hollow. The W end of the monument crosses the modern Broomhill Road and the rampart lies within a vacant building plot situated between numbers 26 and 30 Broomhill Road, approximately 155m NW of St Joseph's Primary School. The monument was rescheduled in 2005, but the documentation does not meet modern standards; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

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 buried remains of the outer mound, ditch, berm and rampart, while a length of the ditch appears as a visible hollow in a pasture field.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above 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 wooden boundary fences, post-and-wire fences and walls, and the top 50mm of all areas of hard standing and the top 30mm 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 not been excavated. Running through heavily developed area, the monument is an important survival as documentary evidence indicates that it was not disturbed by industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although only a short section of the Antonine Wall ditch is now visible, the potential for the survival of buried deposits is very high as Ordnance Survey maps from the 1930s depict the earthworks of a long stretch of the ditch and rampart at this location.

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 excellent potential for the recovery of environmental samples from the fills of the ditch and from ancient ground surfaces sealed by remains of the rampart as excavations on the line of the Antonine Wall elsewhere in Bonnybridge have yielded a wealth of organic remains from the ditch. Such evidence offers excellent potential to 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, fortlets and other structures 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 in the years after AD 158, 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.

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 ancient ground surfaces sealed by remains of the rampart and from the fills of the ditch. Such evidence has the capacity to enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The survival of a section of ditch as an earthwork feature and the lack of industrial development significantly enhance the importance and archaeological potential of this monument. 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

The RCAHMS record the monument as part of NS87NW 32.00.

References:

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

Keppie L J F 1977, 'Bonnybridge, Antonine Wall, Section', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 1976, 35.

Keppie L J F 1978, 'Some rescue excavations on the line of the Antonine Wall, 1973-6', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 107, 63.

Keppie L J F 1979, 'Seabegs, Bonnybridge (Falkirk parish), Antonine Wall, sections', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 1979, 2.

Keppie L J F and Walker J J 1990, 'Some excavations along the line of the Antonine Wall, 1981-85', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 119, 148, No. 9.

Macdonald G 1934, THE ROMAN WALL IN SCOTLAND, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2nd Edition.

Murray J F 1982, 'Seabegs, Bonnybridge (Falkirk parish), Antonine Wall', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 1982, 4-5.

Robertson A S 2001, THE ANTONINE WALL: A HANDBOOK TO THE SURVIVING REMAINS, Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society.

Roy W 1793, THE MILITARY ANTIQUITIES OF THE ROMANS IN NORTH BRITAIN, London: Society of Antiquaries of London/W Bullmer & Co.

Smith S 1936, 'Note on the Antonine Wall and Ditch near Bonnybridge', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT, 70, 146-7.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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