The Wild Frontier - Antonine Wall Bids For World Heritage Status

By Christine Barlow | 04 March 2003
Shows a ditch where the wall once ran.

Left: the wall was built on the orders of the Emperor Antoninius Pius following the re-conquest of southern Scotland in AD 140-142. Image courtesy of Historic Scotland.

The first steps have been taken towards recognising Scotland's Antonine Wall as one of the world's most significant historical structures.

It has been nominated as a World Heritage Site, the Scottish Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Dr Elaine Murray announced recently.

Built on the orders of Emperor Antonius Pius after he re-conquered Southern Scotland, the Wall dates from around 140 A.D.

Shows a number of pits on the wall's former site.

Right: if World Heritage Status is granted the wall will be Scotland's fifth such site. Image courtesy of Historic Scotland.

About two thirds of the wall still remains, including four forts, and it stretches 37 miles from Bo'ness on the Forth to Old Kirkpatrick on the Clyde.

"This is excellent news for the Antonine Wall, the best preserved frontier in the whole Roman Empire after Hadrian's Wall," explained Dr Murray.

"It is remarkable that these earthworks, constructed some 2000 years ago, have survived so well. World Heritage Site status should ensure its survival for many years to come."

Austria, Germany and Slovakia are also applying and UNESCO is looking at combining the proposals under one name, "European Frontiers of the Roman Empire."

Shows surviving parts of the wall.

Left: altogether, about two thirds of the wall survives today. Image courtesy of Historic Scotland.

It is the first ever multi-country bid, and if successful, it's hoped African and Asian nations with Roman Frontiers will also want to be included.

Scotland currently has four World Heritage Sites - The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda Archipelago, Edinburgh Old and New Towns and New Lanark.

Hadrian's Wall, in England, already has World Heritage status, but there are only 600 such sites, so it is a rare accolade.

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