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Bents Cottage, Roman temporary camp 40m SW, 75m south west & 75m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0117 / 56°0'42"N

Longitude: -3.6005 / 3°36'1"W

OS Eastings: 300311

OS Northings: 681017

OS Grid: NT003810

Mapcode National: GBR 1S.T72J

Mapcode Global: WH5R2.N5P6

Entry Name: Bents Cottage, Roman temporary camp 40m SW, 75m SW & 75m NE of

Scheduled Date: 5 November 1964

Last Amended: 25 June 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2474

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 the buried remains of a Roman temporary camp visible as the cropmarks of its defensive ditches on oblique aerial photographs. The majority of the camp lies within the grounds of St Mary's Primary School, Bo'ness, with further remains lying to the NNE in Kinglass Park and in amenity parkland immediately adjacent. This monument was originally scheduled in 1964; the present rescheduling brings the scheduling up to modern standards.

Dating to the mid-second century AD, the camp is associated with the construction of the Antonine Wall, situated approximately 175m to the north. The cropmarks visible on aerial photographs of the monument represent buried archaeological features, which retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil, resulting in the variant growth of the crops above. These cropmarks reveal the rounded SW corner of the camp's perimeter ditch, which lies in playing fields approximately 100m south-east of St Mary's Primary School. Approximately 30m of the camp's W side and 95m of the S side are visible, defined by a ditch that is up to 2.5m in breadth. It has been estimated that the camp defined an area of around 2.2 hectares. A gateway is visible on the south but cropmarks show no associated defensive outworks. Further remains of the camp are likely to survive within Kinglass Park, a public amenity park approximately 130m to the N, although aerial photography has not yet recorded any cropmarks at this location.

The area to be scheduled is divided into four sections, each irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around 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, brick walls, and the uppermost 30cm 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 retains elements of its original form, despite the remains of the camp only being visible as cropmarks. These show that evidence of the camp's ditches still survives below the topsoil. A typical Roman temporary camp comprised an open internal area, where soldiers pitched tents in regularly arranged rows, enclosed by a low mound of earth topped with a palisade of sharpened stakes. Beyond the camp's rampart lay an external V-shaped ditch and it is the buried remains of this feature that often appear as cropmarks on aerial photographs. This site is visible as cropmarks of the SW corner of the camp's ditch, a short length of the W ditch and a long stretch of the S ditch, which includes a gateway.

The clarity of the cropmarks indicates that the monument is a well-preserved archaeological site and has the potential to provide high-quality archaeological evidence relating to the construction and occupation of the camp. Based on the results of excavations of similar sites elsewhere in Scotland, we know that the interiors of Roman temporary camps offer good potential for the survival of evidence such as rubbish pits, bread ovens and possibly even stake-holes from tents that can tell us more about the lives of the soldiers who occupied the site.

Contextual characteristics

The camp probably provided temporary accommodation for Roman legionaries building the nearby stretch of the Antonine Wall and it is one of 20 such sites currently known along the line of the frontier. Archaeologists first recognised the relationship between these camps and the frontier in the 1950s when aerial photography became an important survey tool. The relationship of the camps to our understanding of the Antonine Wall is particularly important as only on this frontier can camps be directly related to the building of the frontier, our information being supplemented by the information provided on the well-known and internationally important distance slabs.

Built in the years following AD 142, the Antonine Wall represents Scotland's most significant Roman monument. 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 Antonine Wall is accompanied at regular intervals by forts and fortlets linked by a road system. It 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, which are unique to Germany and Britain. As a frontier, the Antonine Wall is interpreted as a means of controlling and monitoring cross-border movement into the Roman province to the south rather than a fortification intended to repel significant invasion. However, it is likely that the frontier's physical presence in the landscape, a continuous barrier spanning central Scotland, served as a deterrent to smaller-scale raiding. Although constructed by legionaries, the garrisons of the Antonine Wall's forts and fortlets were composed of auxiliaries, who were soldiers recruited from the non-citizen population of the Roman Empire.

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, and replaced Hadrian's Wall as the empire's most northerly frontier. The Antonine 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.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the past, in particular Roman temporary camps, their construction, use and role within the construction of the adjacent Antonine Wall. Although no longer surviving as an upstanding earthwork, there is good potential for buried remains from the fills of the ditch. Such deposits could include dateable organic remains and artefactual evidence relating to the occupation of the camp. Within the camp, the potential for the survival of occupation evidence is high and such remains help inform our understanding of the lives of Roman soldiers while in the field. Organic evidence from the fill of the ditches around the camp is capable of providing information about the contemporary environment at the time of the construction of the Antonine Wall. As a group, the 20 temporary camps associated with the Antonine Wall provide an important tool to aid our understanding of the construction of the frontier. The loss of the monument would affect our understanding of the construction and use of temporary camps by the Roman army and, in particular, the relationship between temporary encampments and the construction of the Antonine Wall.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The RCAHMS record the monument as NT08SW 10.00. The Falkirk Council SMR designation is not known.

References

Breeze D J, 2006, The Antonine Wall, John Donald: London.

Cook M, 2000,'Deer's Den, Kintore', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 2000, 10-11.

Cook M, 2002, 'Forest Road, Kintore', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 2001, 11.

Hanson, W S and Maxwell, G S 1986, Rome's North West Frontier, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.

Keppie, L J F 1999, 'Roman Britain in 1998. Sites explored, Scotland', Britannia 30, 329.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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