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Antonine Wall and fortlet, 430m east to 850m WSW of Kinneil House

A Scheduled Monument in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0065 / 56°0'23"N

Longitude: -3.6367 / 3°38'12"W

OS Eastings: 298037

OS Northings: 680490

OS Grid: NS980804

Mapcode National: GBR 1Q.TQXJ

Mapcode Global: WH5R2.39H6

Entry Name: Antonine Wall and fortlet, 430m E to 850m WSW of Kinneil House

Scheduled Date: 8 March 1962

Last Amended: 3 August 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2210

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Roman: fortlet

Location: Bo'Ness and Carriden

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bo'ness and Blackness

Traditional County: West Lothian

Description

The monument comprises a 1.3km stretch of the Antonine Wall surviving as a combination of buried deposits and visible earthworks located through aerial photography, geophysical survey and through excavation at several points along its line. The monument was first scheduled in 1962 and amended in 2010. The monument is now amended to include an area of the Antonine Wall previously scheduled as Kinneil House, house and surrounding grounds (SM90189).

 

Approximately 1.3km in length, the remains consist of a mixture of buried remains, physical earthworks and excavated remains consolidated for public interpretation. This stretch of the frontier runs from the west edge of the gorge of the Dean Burn and runs through the open parkland of Kinneil Estate to the east side of the Gil Burn to the rear of Kinneil House. The monument resumes 60m southwest of Kinneil House on the west side of the Gil Burn and runs through an open meadow until its course is interrupted by a pond (formerly a 19th century quarry) where the frontier turns to the southwest before continuing across another meadow. Midway it crests a low rise where there are the consolidated remains of Kinneil fortlet, situated approximately 415m west-south-west of Kinneil Church. From Kinneil fortlet the frontier enters a woodland plantation, skirting the north edge of a large pond known locally as the Curling Pond, and runs to a field boundary immediately to the west.

 

The area to be scheduled is irregular in plan. It includes 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 specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, stone and drystone walls, interpretative panels and the upper 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 comprises a long stretch of the Antonine Wall that includes the excavated and consolidated remains of a fortlet. Smaller than a fort, the fortlets on the Antonine Wall are considered to be broadly comparable to the milecastles found on Hadrian's Wall. Also included within the scheduled area is part of the medieval settlement of Kinneil whose origins can be possibly traced to the 8th century as a placename 'Ceanfahel' (Head of the Wall) is mentioned by Bede, who notes the remains of the Antonine Wall in the area. Much of this stretch of the Antonine Wall runs through local authority-owned parkland and is publicly accessible. The whole of this section of the frontier underwent geophysical survey in 2006, demonstrating that there was increased disturbance to the underlying archaeology to the west of the fortlet and in the area of the former village of Kinneil. On the basis of the average 3km spacing between forts, the Kinneil area has long been regarded as a likely site for a fort. Although 18th-century antiquarians noted the remains of earthworks at different points in this area, efforts to locate a fort have so far proven unsuccessful.

At this location, a lengthy section of the ditch is visible as a broad, gentle hollow running WSW through the open meadow between Kinneil House and Kinneil fortlet. As a result of medieval cultivation, nothing remains visible of the rampart although excavations in this area have demonstrated that buried remains of the wall base survive. It is important to note that, in this sector, the rampart of the Antonine Wall was constructed of earth revetted with cheeks of clay or turf rather than being wholly fabricated of turf blocks.

Several excavations along this sector of the Antonine Wall have confirmed the line of the frontier and considered the way in which it crossed the substantial obstacles posed by the gorges of the Gil Burn and Dean Burn. In 1998 a geophysical survey and excavation investigated linear cropmark features in the field immediately west of Kinneil House that suggested the frontier turned to the south to cross the Gil Burn gorge at an easier and less severe point. Results from the survey revealed that the ditch continued its E-W course although no trace of the rampart was found. The linear feature observed on aerial photographs was identified as being much later in date.

Kinneil fortlet was fully excavated in 1980 by Falkirk Museum Service and subsequently consolidated for permanent display. Artefacts recovered from the excavations form part of an interpretative display in nearby Kinneil Museum. These include several leather boots recovered from the fortlet's well, pottery and a broken piece of bronze horse harness. Results from the 1980 excavation demonstrated that while of contemporary build with the Antonine Wall, Kinneil fortlet was not occupied for long and the Roman military had systematically demolished its defences and internal structures.

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. At Kinneil, the relationship between the frontier and the open outlook to the north, giving commanding views of the Fife coast and the River Forth, can still be appreciated.

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.

This section of the Antonine Wall appears on early maps of Scotland by Pont, Blaeu, Roy and Moll. Pont's late 16th-century map of Scotland annotates the line of the Wall as 'Vestigia valli Romanorum quod videtur Agricolam aut Adrianum Primum posuisse' ('the remains of the Roman fortification which it seems Agricola or Hadrian first built'), a reminder that it was not until the 1690s that scholars were agreed upon the date, provenance and even location of the Antonine Wall.

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 offers excellent potential to add to our understanding of the dating, construction, maintenance and subsequent abandonment of the Antonine Wall. The significance of this stretch of the frontier is enhanced by the fortlet, one of only nine yet known, and the results of the 1981 excavation have provided valuable information about this type of fortification. The fortlet excavations have demonstrated that there is excellent 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 that would enhance our understanding of the character of the local landscape when the Antonine Wall was occupied. The buried remains of Kinneil village have high potential to enhance our understanding of medieval settlement, their development, and the lifestyles of their inhabitants, and it forms an important facet of the development of the wider Kinneil Estate, whose focus was nearby Kinneil House. 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. Additionally, it would impede our ability to understand Scottish medieval settlements and their development.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

References

Bailey G B and Cannel J 1996, 'Excavations at Kinneil fortlet on the Antonine Wall, 1980-1', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 126, 303-46.

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

GSB Prospection Ltd, 2008, Antonine Wall Phase III: Kinneil.

Glendinning B, 2000 'Investigations of the Antonine Wall and medieval settlement at Kinneil House, Bo'ness', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 130, 509-24.

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, 107-11.

Macdonald G, 1925 'Discoveries on the line of the Antonine Wall', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 59, 276-9.

Macdonald, G 1934, The Roman Wall in Scotland (2nd ed), 105-11, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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

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

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/48135/
https://canmore.org.uk/site/228361/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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