Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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

Antonine Wall and fort, 130m north east to 375m WSW of Auchendavie Farm

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: 55.9493 / 55°56'57"N

Longitude: -4.1212 / 4°7'16"W

OS Eastings: 267639

OS Northings: 674951

OS Grid: NS676749

Mapcode National: GBR 14.Y44C

Mapcode Global: WH4PW.NQRK

Entry Name: Antonine Wall and fort, 130m NE to 375m WSW of Auchendavie Farm

Scheduled Date: 19 February 1999

Last Amended: 23 November 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7050

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: Antonine Wall

Location: Kirkintilloch

County: East Dunbartonshire

Electoral Ward: Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire

Description

The monument comprises a stretch of the Antonine Wall that survives as the buried remains of the outer mound, ditch, berm and rampart, and includes the buried remains of Auchendavie fort. The line of one of the fort's eastern ditches is visible as a gentle hollow. Remains of this stretch of the frontier have been located through excavation, geophysical survey and by aerial photography,while the fort has been known since the 18th century and has been subject to modern aerial survey and geophysical survey. The monument was first scheduled in 1999, but an inadequate area was included to protect the full extent of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

This stretch of the Antonine Wall is approximately 535m in length. From its NE end, the frontier runs for approximately 25m on a NW-SE course before changing to a broadly E-W line to accommodate the fort. This change in direction, which has no obvious reason, is regarded as evidence for the fort having been built before the rampart and ditch of the Antonine Wall. The fort, partly overlain by the former steading of Auchendavie, is bisected by the B8023, which enters the fort close to the site of the E gate and follows the approximate line of the fort's main E-W street (known as the Via Principalis). To the west of the fort, the Antonine Wall runs on a generally south-west direction for approximately 105m until it is cut by the modern B8023 road.

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.

In 1978, excavation of a pipe trench at the western end of the scheduled area located the intact remains of the rampart base and the northern lip of the ditch. At Auchendavie fort, the Antonine Wall formed the northern side of the fort with a causeway across the ditch that probably lay just to the north of Auchendavie farmhouse. The farmhouse is built in the centre of the fort with the U-shaped complex of former farm buildings on the opposite side of the B8023. Cropmarks visible on aerial photographs, in conjunction with results of geophysical surveys from 1999 and 2002, indicate that the fort lay within three parallel ditches around the E, S and W sides of the fort. These would have been accompanied by ramparts between the ditches, but these have been largely flattened by ploughing. On the south, remains of the fort are cut by the line of the Forth and Clyde Canal. In 1771, during construction of the canal, labourers reported substantial finds of Roman material including four altars, a stone bust, two iron mallets and numerous stone balista balls. However, only the bust and one altar survive today. The altars, commemorating no fewer than 11 deities, were mainly dedicated by Marcus Cocceius Firmus, a Centurion of the Second Augustan Legion. However, a second collection of sculptured stones from Shirva, including gravestones and parts of a funerary monument, are likely to have originated from a cemetery outside the fort.

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 reveal a pair of ditches at the SE corner of the fort.

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 scheduled area specifically excludes the upper 300mm of all handstandings,and the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, field gates and timber fences.

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 subjected to excavation in the past. The fort has not been subjected to a formal or scientific excavation, but its S face was excavated in the 18th century as part of the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, while well-preserved remains of the frontier were located in 1978 ahead of pipe-laying. This stretch of the Antonine Wall and the fort of Auchendavie are important survivals, situated in an area that has undergone not only centuries of intensive cultivation but has also been disturbed by the above developments. Auchendavie fort is a particularly important fort owing to the collection of altars and other sculpture recovered from the site in 1771 during the construction of the canal. Aerial survey and, more recently, geophysical surveys have demonstrated that buried remains of the fort's defences are well preserved. Although no longer visible as earthworks, remains of the system of ditches and ramparts survive beneath the topsoil

The monument possesses excellent potential to provide high-quality archaeological evidence relating to the date, construction, maintenance and subsequent abandonment of the Antonine Wall, its forts and Roman frontier systems in general. In particular, the fort has excellent potential to broaden our understanding of the garrison stationed there and the character of the everyday lives of the soldiers. There is good potential for the recovery of environmental samples as the ramparts of the Antonine Wall and the fort seal ancient ground surfaces, while similar deposits survive in the fills of the ditches. Such information can be used to 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 line 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.

The fort is immediately to the north of the Forth and Clyde Canal, which cut through the S side of the fort in 1771. The canal is the first man-made construction since the Antonine Wall to continuously span the Firth-Clyde isthmus and it follows a similar course as the Roman frontier.

Sculpture recovered from Auchendavie in 1771 is on display at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow. Two of the Auchendavie altars, a joint dedication to Apollo and Diana and a dedication to the Spirit of the Land of Britain, are without parallel in Britain in terms of the deities they name. However, altars dedicated to Apollo and Diana are common in SE Europe and Cocceius Firmus is named on an inscription dating to AD 169 from Histria on the Black Sea.

In the 1970s, artefacts recovered by fieldwalking around the area of the fort included a range of Roman pottery (amphorae, coarse wares, and Samian ware, a fine table ware) and flue tiles, which would have come from a building equipped with a hypocaust heating system (such as a bathhouse).

Auchendavie fort is recorded as upstanding earthworks by several antiquarian authors in the 18th century. The most accurate antiquarian plan of the fort was made in 1755 by General William Roy who depicted triple ditches on the E and S sides, with a single broad hollow on the west with gates on the east, west and south although no opening is shown in the Antonine Wall on the north. Earthworks of the rampart and ditch are clearly depicted on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map.

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, its forts, 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 and the forts along its line. 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 rampart. Information of this type would greatly enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The fort and flanking stretches of the Antonine Wall are important survivals in an area that has been subjected to intensive cultivation for several centuries, agricultural improvement and the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal that cuts through the S side of the fort. Aerial photography and geophysical surveys have demonstrated that remains of the fort's defences survive as buried deposits beneath the topsoil. Results from geophysical survey have also indicated the potential for the survival of structures within the fort. The significance of the fort is enhanced by the collection of sculpture, offering an insight into the religious beliefs of its garrison or builders. 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, London: John Donald.

Gater, J Jones, R and Stephens, C 2008, 'Geophysical Survey on the Antonine Wall' in D J Breeze and S Jilek (eds), Frontiers of the Roman Empire, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 79-81, 83, 87, 91-3.

Hanson, W S and Maxwell, G S 1986, The Antonine Wall: Rome's North West Frontier, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 87-9, 105, 112, 154-7, 183-6.

Hunter-Blair, A 1999, 'Kelvin Valley sewer: Wester Shirva to Dryfield', Discovery and Excavation Scotland, 27.

Keppie, L J F 1998, Roman Inscribed and sculptured stones in the Hunterian Museum University of Glasgow, Britannia Monograph Series No 13, London: The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 25-7, 102-5, 109, 120.

Keppie, L J F and Walker, J J 1985, 'Auchendavy Roman Fort and Settlement', Britannia 16, 29-35.

Robertson, A S and Keppie, L J F 2001, The Antonine Wall: A Handbook to the Surviving Remains, Glasgow: Glasgow Archaeological Society, 36, 45, 94-6.

Roy, W 1793, Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain, London: W Bulmer/Society of Antiquaries, pl. XXXV.

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.