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Local History of Falkirk
Roman Times


Almost 2000 years ago, the Roman Army mounted a series of campaigns over Scottish soil. The most enduring memorial to their presence here is the Antonine Wall, built around 142AD. It took its name from the then Emperor of Rome, Antoninus Pius, who ordered its construction as a defence against the northern tribes.

It stretched from Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde, to Carriden on the Forth, and formed the most northerly frontier of one of the most vast and powerful Empires mankind has ever seen.

Almost 2000 years ago, the Roman Army mounted a series of campaigns over Scottish soil. The most enduring memorial to their presence here is the Antonine Wall, built around 142AD. It took its name from the then Emperor of Rome, Antoninus Pius, who ordered its construction as a defence against the northern tribes.

It stretched from Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde, to Carriden on the Forth, and formed the most northerly frontier of one of the most vast and powerful Empires mankind has ever seen.

The Antonine Wall
Unlike the stone built Hadrian's Wall further south, The Antonine Wall, was a rampart of soil faced with turf, resting on a stone foundation. It originally stood 12 feet high and was protected on the north side by a V-shaped ditch 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep. South of the wall itself ran a cobbled road, the 'Military Way', which linked a network of fortlets along the wall. These were built on the south side of the wall. at intervals of approximately 2 miles, and acted as barracks for the troops who garrisoned the frontier. Despite passage of time, substantial lengths of this remarkable monument can still be seen today, at various sites within Falkirk District. Interpretative display panels help re-create the main features for visitors.

Kinneil Estate
In 1978 excavations at Kinneil Estate uncovered a small Roman fortlet, which would have been attached to the rear of the Antonine Wall. Essentially the fortlet, was a rectangular area, enclosed by a turf and earth rampart, protected by an outer ditch. A gravel road ran from south to north through the fortlet, with gateways at either end of the positions of which are now marked by timber posts. Timber posts also mark the positions of original Roman buildings, which were found within the fortlet during a 1981 excavation. Several interesting finds are on show in nearby Kinneil Museum.

Polmonthill (Nr. Grangemouth)
From Kinneil, the Antonine Wall ran westwards on the crest of the high ground. A small part of the ditch can still be seen, parallel to and on the north side of Polmonthill ski - slope, although it is far shallower than it was originally.

Callender Park (Falkirk)
The ditch of the Antonine Wall can be seen in the grounds of Callendar Park. It runs westwards from the business park for about half a mile, and is still 6 - 10 feet deep. The wall itself survives for part of this length, as a low mound, set back from the southern edge of the ditch between two lines of trees.

Rough Castle (Nr. Bonnybridge)
This is the best preserved of all the forts on the Antonine Wall. Built against the back of the wall, this fort was defended by turf ramparts, 20ft thick on a stone base. Double ditches ran around the other three sides.

Clearly visible to the left and right of the visitors car park, the ditch and rampart of the are particularly well preserved. In places the Antonine Wall stands some 5 feet high.
The fort itself lies to the east, and would probably have provided barrack accommodation for about 500 men. The rampart and ditches can be followed round the fort, and the overgrown and fragmentary ruins of some of the more important buildings can still be seen.

Over the causeway across the Antonine ditch, lies a series of pits, called "lilia" these originally had a pointed stake at the bottom of each, and would have been concealed by branches to serve as a brutal trap for anyone attacking the fort.

Seabegs Wood (Nr. Bonnybridge)
The line of the Antonine Ditch and Wall can be clearly seen running for quarter of a mile through Seabegs Wood, to the south of the Forth and Clyde Canal. At this point the ditch is still some 40 feet wide, but only 6-8 feet deep. In places, the rampart survives to a height of 4 feet.

A number of other, less well- preserved sites exists within Falkirk District, where interpretative display panels describe each location for visitors. These are at Kemper Avenue, Anson Avenue and Tamfourhill Road, in Falkirk, Underwood Lock (Allandale) and Castlecary.

Within Falkirk District along the route of the Antonine Wall, many interesting finds have been uncovered. Roman shoes, fragments of pottery, an iron axehead and an iron javelin are among the items on display in Kinneil Museum. A bronze strap fitting, possibly worn by one of the soldiers, is one of the most interesting items.

At Bridgeness, in 1868, a stone 'distance slab' was found, and was subsequently presented to the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh .A replica of the slab's inscription can be seen in Harbour Road Bo'ness.


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