The Antonine Wall is about to prosper from a new five-year development plan announced today by Historic Scotland
It may not have the physical presence or the archaeological heritage of Hadrian’s Wall but the Antonine Wall, stretching across central Scotland from Bo’ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde, was the most complex frontier ever constructed by the Roman Army.
© Photo Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons
Today the remains of this mainly turf fortification built by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius as a bastion against the incursions of the Caledonians, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, which includes Hadrian's Wall in England and the German Limes.
Turf remnants, ditches and the remainders of forts that haven't succumbed to modern development are about to benefit from a new five-year plan revealed by Historic Scotland.
The development plan will provide a framework for the management, conservation, promotion and interpretation of the Wall between 2014 and 2019.
During the next five years the Antonine Wall will prosper from a strengthening of local, national and international partnerships; an increased provision of digital resources, including a new website; improved signage, paths and interpretation and a strengthening of links between museum collections and the physical sites where many Roman archaeological artefacts have been found.
Museum collectons including Glasgow's Hunterian and Kinneil Museum in Bo'ness near Falkirk hold archaeological items from the Wall.
The plan, which has been developed after an extensive period of public consultation, kickstarts a 30-year vision aiming to safeguard the Wall’s future and establish the site as a “world class visitor experience”.
It has been overseen by Historic Scotland, which cares for several sites along the wall, together with local councils.
Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said the Management Plan would “allow valuable opportunities in the areas of learning, tourism and research to be advanced”, and promised “strong partnership working around site management and conservation”.
The Antonine Wall had a relatively short life. Built during a 12-year period between AD142 and AD154, it was garrisoned for only 20 years before the Roman legions retreated back to Hadrian’s Wall, which itself had been temporarily abandoned.
Another fleeting attempt to garrison and bolster the barrier against the Scots tribes was tried under Septimus Severus in 208, but it was abandoned after only a few years.
Today large parts of it have disappeared but much can still be explored and seen in the form of turf banks and ditches together with the intriguing remnants of forts, the best example being Rough Castle at Bonnybridge on the outskirts of Falkirk.
Download the full management plan
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© Photograph Chris Heaton via Wikimedia Commons.