New gallery The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier stars in reopened Hunterian Museum

By Culture24 Staff | 12 September 2011
A photo of a close-up of the face of a stone carving of a Roman man's face
© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
New Gallery: The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier, The Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, opens September 16 2011

Just in case anyone was under the illusion that the Romans oversaw an era of harmonious pacifism in the north of Britain, the newest gallery at Scotland’s oldest public museum features a vast stone shot slung from a catapult in a vicious arsonist attack.

It was so hot at the time of firing that the shot bears a heat cracking pattern normally associated with red-hot stones which have suddenly cooled, and experts believe it was used during the destruction of Leckie shortly after AD 140, launched into the broch as a superheated missile.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, to hear curators describe the surrounding Roman campaign to subdue the northern tribes as a short but bloody one, driven by new Emperor Antoninus Pius’s desire for a military show of might to emphasise his power, settling on Blighty’s northern frontier as an easy target for such a soiree.

In the aftermath, slabs on display in the gallery suggest inhabitants who weren’t killed were sold into slavery, and the Antonine Wall was built along the border as a “triumphal arc” to celebrate the crusade.

Among the Hunterian’s outstanding collection of monumental sculpture and artefacts from the wall, others point to less turbulent times in the Stirling region – carved gems, glass beads, a polished bronze mirror and imported luxury goods are exquisite examples of Roman jewellery and gifts to the local aristocracy, as well as symbols of the links held between the Romans and Mediterranean makers.

From the decadent to the destructive, the idea of this central wing of the museum – reopening after a two-year closure – is to encourage debate and further research, embellishing 300 years of Roman frontier investigations in Scotland.

  • Open 10am-5pm (except Monday, 11am-4pm Sunday). Admission free.
More pictures from the gallery:

An image of a slab of engraved Roman stone under dark lights
A distance slab of the Twentieth Legion, recording the completion of 3,000 feet© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
A photo of a cragged yellow and brown stone sculpture of a Roman figure
Bust of Silenus, from Bar Hill Roman fort© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
An image of a stone statue of a Roman soldier
Statuette of Mars, from Balmuildy Roman fort© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
A photo of a slab of circular red stone with a carving of a roman soldier inside it
Carved Intaglio, from Leckie broch© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
A photo of a stone Roman jug vessel
Bronze lamp, from Louden Hill Roman fort© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
A photo of a Roman carving of a man's face
Fountainhead, from Bearsden Roman fort© The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011
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