Walk the Antonine WallPosted on: 13 November 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Highlights of the ancient trail from Carriden on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde.
The Antonine Wall is the largest relic of the Roman occupation of Scotland. Built around AD142, on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, it marked the northern border to the Roman Empire and was constructed as a defence against the northern tribes.
It stretched from Carriden on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde, and was approximately 37 miles long. Unlike the stone-built Hadrian's Wall, the Antonine Wall consisted of a rampant 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 that was 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep.
On 7th July 2008, the Antonine Wall was awarded World Heritage Site status.
In many places the wall has been built over or lost forever. However, despite the passage of time, substantial lengths of the wall can be seen at various sites within the Falkirk area including:
Here you will find the best surviving stretch of the Antonine Wall, which gives the clearest impression of the formidable nature of the ditch. It is still about 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. The remains of the turf rampart can be seen as a low mound set back some 20 feet south of the ditch. Siting the Wall at this position gave an unobstructed view of the countryside to the north.
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, 20 feet thick on a stone base. Double ditches ran round the other three sides. In places the wall itself still stands some 5 feet high, and the ditch and rampart of the wall are particularly well preserved.
The fort 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 over grown 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 to serve as a trap for anyone attacking the fort.
The walk begins at Rough Castle car park; follow the signs for the Antonine Wall from Bonnybridge onto Foundry Road and Bonnyside Road. Carry straight on to a track leading to the car park.
In 1978, excavations at Kinneil Estate uncovered a small Roman fort, which would have been attached to the rear of the Antonine Wall. The fort consisted of a rectangular area, enclosed by a turf and earth rampart, protected by an outer ditch.
From the car park follow a path downhill to an old bridge and a small ruined cottage. The famous engineer, James Watt used this cottage as a workshop from 1769–1770 where he tested a steam engine designed to pump water from local coal mines.
From the bridge there are good views into the steep glen of the Gil Burn. Cross the bridge and turn right towards the ruin of Kinneil Church. The church once served the medieval village of Kinneil. Retrace your steps back over the bridge then continue left around the rear of Kinneil House.
Follow the road through the courtyard for an impressive view of the front of Kinneil House. The house is built on the site of a mediaeval tower and was extended in its present form in 1677. Continue uphill past the estate cottages and old walled garden to return to the car park.
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.
Start at Polmont Wood car park off the B904 Smiddy Brae.
Simply walk along the tarmac track a short distance to the seating area. The Wall is visible through a break in the trees.
Callendar 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 six to ten 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.
From the car park follow a tree-lined path straight uphill towards the flats. Carry on for a great view of the ditch of the Antonine Wall.
Where the tree lined path meets the paved path turn off the hard surface to your right onto the mown grass. You are now on the south of the Antonine Wall. Follow this level grass path past seating before turning right down towards Callendar House.
At the bottom of the slope simply turn right along the track back to the car park.
The line of the Antonine ditch and wall can clearly be seen running for a 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 six to eight feet deep. In places, the rampart survives to a height of four feet.
Start at the car park to the east of Seabegs Wood in Bonnybridge at the Community Centre. From the car park, there is a short, steep walk uphill and then right along the level canal towpath leads to the underpass and Seabegs Wood. Look out for a path that branches right off the towpath then under the canal to reach Seabegs Wood at the other side.
At Seabegs Wood a steep farm track leads uphill to a mown grass path on the right. This is the old Military Road. Follow a circular route around the site back to the main gates and retrace your steps.
For further information on the Antonine Wall log on to: www.falkirkonline.net
For information on visiting Falkirk log on to: www.visitscotland.com
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