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Antonine Wall, Roman temporary camp 105m NNW of Holland Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Latitude: 56.009 / 56°0'32"N

Longitude: -3.5787 / 3°34'43"W

OS Eastings: 301662

OS Northings: 680683

OS Grid: NT016806

Mapcode National: GBR 1S.TKYT

Mapcode Global: WH5R3.0749

Entry Name: Antonine Wall, Roman temporary camp 105m NNW of Holland Cottage

Scheduled Date: 29 June 1972

Last Amended: 23 November 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3202

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 the buried remains of a Roman temporary camp, visible on oblique aerial photographs as cropmarks of its perimeter ditch. The monument was first scheduled in 1972 but it included an occupied dwelling; the present rescheduling rectifies this and brings the scheduling to modern standards.

Dating to the mid-second century AD, the camp is associated with the construction of the Antonine Wall, situated approximately 785m to the north-west, and with the Roman fort at Carriden, situated around 880m to the north-east. The cropmarks visible on aerial photographs of the monument represent negative or 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 three sides of a rectangular enclosure with two rounded corners visible. A C-shaped cropmark, close to the NW corner of the camp, is interpreted by the RCAHMS as the remains of a souterrain, a stone-built subterranean structure, possibly dating to the late first millennium BC/early first millennium AD.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above 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 runs up to but excludes the fence on the N side of Acre Road; within the scheduled area it excludes the above-ground elements of all other post-and-wire fences.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

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. This monument retains the majority of its original form, despite only being visible as a cropmark. These show that evidence of the camp's ditches still survives below the topsoil. At least two entrances are visible in the E and W sides of the camp and what may be a third entrance is visible on the N side. Although only visible as a cropmark, the possible souterrain displays some characteristics of this type of monument, notably the curving shape and tapering ends. Souterrains are underground passage-like structures and usually possess stone-flagged floors and drystone side walls that support a roof of massive flat stones. However, some souterrains have been found with timber-lined passages.

The cropmarks therefore indicate that this is a well-preserved monument with good potential to provide high-quality archaeological evidence relating to the date, construction, occupation and abandonment of the camp. Excavations of similar sites elsewhere in Scotland tell us that the interiors of Roman temporary camps 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 souterrain has the potential to improve our understanding of the date, construction and function of this type of monument.

Contextual characteristics

The camp provided temporary accommodation for Roman legionaries working on 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 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.

The possible souterrain displays similar characteristics to those found in Perth and Kinross, Angus and Fife and a handful of examples south of the River Forth. Dating evidence suggests these souterrains were built and in use during the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. Unlike souterrains in the north of Scotland, this southern group may have functioned as storage for surplus agricultural produce, possibly to supply the Roman military.

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.

Souterrains are found in most parts of Scotland except SW and W mainland Scotland, with marked concentrations in Orkney and Shetland, Skye and the Western Isles, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross and Angus.

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. In particular, there is good potential that the ditch contains 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




Armit I, 1999, 'The abandonment of souterrains: evolution, catastrophe or dislocation?', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 129, 577-96.

Bailey, G B 1994, 'Drum Farm (Bo'ness and Carriden parish): coal pits', Discovery and Excav Scot, 8.

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

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

Rees, A R 1998, 'Excavation of cropmark features at Drum Farm, Bo'ness, West Lothian', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 128, 419-24.

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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