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Antonine Wall, 120m SSW of Woodside Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Latitude: 56.0039 / 56°0'14"N

Longitude: -3.648 / 3°38'52"W

OS Eastings: 297330

OS Northings: 680222

OS Grid: NS973802

Mapcode National: GBR 1Q.TNG2

Mapcode Global: WH5R1.YC15

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, 120m SSW of Woodside Cottage

Scheduled Date: 24 June 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12643

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Bo'Ness and Carriden

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bo'ness and Blackness

Traditional County: West Lothian


The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall that survives as a combination of the visible earthworks of the ditch and the buried remains of the outer mound, berm and rampart. Approximately 320m in length, this stretch of the Antonine Wall runs through a large pasture field known as Summerhouse Park. Aligned on a broadly E-W course, the Antonine Wall makes a marked turn to the SW, away from the line of a steep cliff, to ascend higher ground. The monument was first scheduled in 1962 and rescheduling is required to bring the existing schedule up to modern standards.

Dating to the mid- to late 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.

At this site, the remains of the Antonine Wall consist of buried remains of the outer mound, ditch, and rampart. Cropmarks of the Antonine Wall have been recorded at this location. These represent negative or buried archaeological features that retain different levels of moisture than the surrounding subsoil, resulting in the variant growth of the vegetation above. These reveal the line of the ditch.

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. The scheduling goes up to, but does not include, the post-and-wire boundary fence enclosing the field it lies within.

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 been partly excavated. Until 1860 the ditch survived as a significant earthwork, but was in-filled by the then landowner to facilitate easier cultivation of the field. A contemporary account describes the ditch as being up to 1.8m deep in places. In 1961, buried remains of the rampart's stone foundation, the berm and the ditch were located through excavation. The line of the ditch appears as cropmarks on aerial photographs of the site, further demonstrating that well-preserved archaeological deposits survive below the topsoil. This stretch of the Antonine Wall represents an important survival as it is situated in a landscape that has undergone several centuries of cultivation.

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 ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundations of the rampart and from the fills of the ditch. Such information can enhance 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. In the case of this stretch of the frontier, there are commanding views over the River Forth and towards the point where the River Avon flows into the Forth. This stretch of the Antonine Wall marks the point where the frontier turns away from the former sea cliffs overlooking the River Forth and turns inland to command high ground to the south, offering greater views and a straighter course to the west and the fort at Inveravon.

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.

William Maitland is the only antiquarian of the 17th and 18th centuries to have recognised the remains of the ditch as part of the Roman frontier. Unusually the main authorities from this period, antiquarians such as Alexander Gordon, Robert Sibbald and General William Roy, make no mention of the ditch at this location. As the field was levelled around 1860, the ditch is not depicted on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey 6-inch or 1:2500 maps. However, Sir George Macdonald refers to a first-hand description of the ditch given to him in 1910 by a man who helped fill in the ditch.

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.

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 ancient ground surfaces sealed by the foundation of the rampart that would enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. This stretch of the Antonine Wall represents an important survival in an area that has been subjected to several centuries of cultivation. 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




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

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

Hendry T A, 1971, 'Antonine Wall Excavations: Kinneil Sector', Glasgow Archaeol J , 2, 107-10

Macdonald G, 1934, The Roman Wall in Scotland, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 108-10.

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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