Antonine Wall declared a world heritage site

Let The Scotsman be the one to tell us.

SCOTLAND’S greatest remnant of Roman occupation was last night granted World Heritage Site status – ranking it alongside the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

The Antonine Wall, which runs from Bo’ness, in West Lothian, to Old Kilpatrick, in West Dunbartonshire, received the official designation at the Unesco world heritage summit in Quebec, Canada.

The Antonine Wall, widely seen as Scotland’s answer to Hadrian’s Wall, is the fifth site in Scotland to be recognised by Unesco and the first since New Lanark in 2001.

The 2,000-year-old wall, built in AD142 to keep Scots tribesmen at bay, is widely seen as one of the most significant Roman remains in existence. For a generation, until about AD165, it was the north-west frontier of the entire Roman empire.

The route of Scotland’s largest historic monument goes through Falkirk, Kirkintilloch, Polmont and Bearsden, although in some places it is interrupted by roads and railway lines.

About two-thirds of the wall, which was made up of 12ft-high turf ramparts on a stone base,
fronted by a deep wide ditch, has survived.

There are also remains of the forts which were built at roughly two-mile intervals.

Perhaps the best example is at Rough Castle, near Bonnybridge, where there are the remnants of a fort with ramparts 20ft thick, which would probably have provided accommodation for 500 men, and in Bearsden, where there are the remains of a bath-house.

Dr Mechtild Rossler, the head of the European Unit for the Unesco World Heritage Centre, said the
Antonine Wall had been officially designated a World Heritage Site and was also approved as an extension to the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

She said: “It is really quite an accolade for the Antonine Wall, which is a hugely important territory because of the understanding it has given us of Roman military architecture.

“We really hope its World Heritage Site designation will increase greater awareness of it and help to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

The bid to have the wall recognised as a World Heritage Site dates back five years and had to secure the backing of Holyrood and Westminster before being considered by Unesco.

Scotland’s culture minister, Linda Fabiani, said: “I’m delighted the Antonine Wall and its archaeological and historical significance have been recognised by the World Heritage Committee. The decision reinforces the Antonine Wall’s international status.

“The Antonine Wall represents an incredible part of Scotland’s history. Its inscription as Scotland’s
fifth World Heritage Site – the highest accolade of a nation’s heritage – should be celebrated by everyone both now and in the future.”

Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, the St Kilda archipelago, New Lanark and Orkney’s “Neolithic Heart” are already recognised as World Heritage Sites.

It is hoped that the granting of World Heritage Status could lead to tours of the Antonine Wall, helping it to become as popular an attraction as the West Highland Way.

The wall is roughly half the length of, and 20 years younger than, Hadrian’s Wall, the barrier
the Romans built 80 miles south in Northumberland.

Wikipedia had already added the news to its article on the Antonine Wall this morning.

See the School Classics Trips wiki on the Antonine Wall.

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