Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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

Antonine Wall, fortlet and camp 130m ESE to 930m north east of The Stables

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar, East Dunbartonshire

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: 55.9355 / 55°56'7"N

Longitude: -4.1744 / 4°10'27"W

OS Eastings: 264267

OS Northings: 673513

OS Grid: NS642735

Mapcode National: GBR 12.Z45V

Mapcode Global: WH4Q1.V2CM

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, fortlet and camp 130m ESE to 930m NE of The Stables

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1998

Last Amended: 25 June 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7556

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: henge; Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Cadder

County: East Dunbartonshire

Electoral Ward: Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall, about 880m long that includes a fortlet, an adjacent Roman temporary camp and what is interpreted as a prehistoric henge. All survive as buried remains that are visible on aerial photographs and located through geophysical survey. The monument was first scheduled in 1971 and 1998 as two separate scheduled monuments, but an inadequate area was included to protect the full extent of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

Dating to the mid second 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.

The cropmarks visible on aerial photographs of the monument represent negative or buried archaeological features that retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil resulting in the variant growth of the crops above. These and the geophysical survey show that, at this site, the remains of the Antonine Wall consist of the outer mound, ditch, berm, rampart and include a fortlet near Glasgow Bridge. The fortlet, a small fortified enclosure of similar size and function to the milecastles found on Hadrian's Wall, appears as a U-shaped cropmark attached to the S face of the Antonine Wall. The fortlet lies within a single ditch and measures around 30m E-W internally with a gateway in the south. The temporary camp encloses an area of about 1.4 ha and is defined by a single ditch up to 2m broad with gates in all four sides. On the west and south, the entrances are protected by tituli, short lengths of ditch placed in front of gateways. The possible henge measures around 6m in diameter within a broad ditch that is broken by an entrance on the SSE. Internally there is a circular ring of at least twelve large pits.

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. To allow for their maintenance, the scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences and stone walls, and all corrugated-iron outbuildings and stables.

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. As recently as the 1930s, the ditch remained clearly visible as an earthwork and its course is still traceable as a series of gentle hollows. The fortlet is a significant feature of this stretch of the frontier as only eight others are known of. Smaller than a fort, fortlets on the Antonine Wall contained timber barrack blocks and, probably, timber gate-towers above their entrances.

The temporary camp is a typical example. Usually Roman temporary camps 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. This monument retains the majority of its original form, despite only being visible as a cropmark and shows that evidence of the camp's ditches still survives below the topsoil. The two visible tituli strongly suggest that the other entrances were protected in the same manner.

The cropmarks therefore indicate that this is a well-preserved monument that has the potential to provide high-quality archaeological evidence relating to the date, construction, occupation and abandonment of the camp, particularly from its ditch and entrances. Excavations of similar sites elsewhere in Scotland tell us that Roman temporary camps interiors also have high potential for the survival of important evidence that can tell us more about the lives of the soldiers who occupied the site, such as rubbish pits, bread ovens, latrine pits and possibly stake-holes from tents.

The possible late neolithic henge enclosure pre-dates the Roman activity by around 3,000 years. It appears to be intact and does not appear to have been disturbed. Therefore it is likely that it preserves information relating both to the construction of the henge and to the activities that took place there. Where henges have been excavated, pottery, stone artefacts and animal bones possibly relating to feasting and ceremonial activities are often found within their ditches. Material such as this has the potential to provide dating evidence, and it is possible that environmental material relating to the conditions of the surrounding area will be preserved in the ditch and in the ancient ground surfaces sealed by the associated banks.

This stretch of the Antonine Wall and the Roman temporary camp possess excellent 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.

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.

The henge is part of a group of neolithic ceremonial monuments understood to have played a role in ritual and funerary events. The cropmarks of this site show only one entrance, marking it out as a variation within the 80 or so henges known in Scotland. Individually and as part of a wider group, this monument can tell us more about the role and significance of ceremonial sites in everyday prehistoric life.

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 appears as a visible earthwork on General William Roy's 1747 Military Map of Scotland and in Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain, published posthumously in 1793. The ditch is depicted as a visible feature on the 2nd and 3rd editions of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 maps. Sir George Macdonald, writing in 1934, noted that the ditch was still visible as a faint hollow. There are no reports of excavations on this section of the frontier.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance 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. The monument is of particular interest as it incorporates an unexcavated temporary camp and fortlet, both of which have the capcity to enhance our understanding of the construction phase and the occupation of the Antonine Wall. The potential survival of a stretch of the military way is significant as it provides a complete picture of the Roman frontier and the relationship between its individual elements. The survival of the cropmarked henge is particularly important as its size and use of a single entrance is unusual. Such sites offer us excellent potential to learn more about the function and role of henges in early prehistoric society, their relationship with the landscape and settlement patterns. 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

References

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

GSB Prospection Ltd, 2007, Antonine Wall Phase III: Glasgow Bridge to Westermains, unpublished report for Historic Scotland.

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), 105-111, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Keppie, L J F 1990, Scotland's Roman Remains, Edinburgh: John Donald.

Roy, W 1793, The Military Remains of the Romans in North Britain, London: Bullmer and Co/Society of Antiquaries of London, pl. 35.

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.