Scotlands History

Antonine Wall

Guerilla warfare by the Caledonians kept the Romans at bay after the battle of Mons Graupius. The Roman legionaries dismantled the fort at Inchtuthil, buried anything made of iron and marched south.

To keep the raiding tribes at bay, a new frontier was needed. This was the Antonine Wall, built in AD 142, by order of Emperor Antoninus Pius.

The wall, with its 19 forts, was the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire for about fifty years. It stretched from Bo’ness on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde.  At 37 miles (60 km) in length, it had a stone base, with turf blocks, a wooden battlement on top, and a broad ditch on the north side.  On the south side was the military road linking the 19 forts.

Construction was by detachments from the 2nd Legion based in Wales, the 6th at York, and the 20th at Chester – the same legions as had toiled on Hadrian’s Wall.

Records of their work in the form of stone ‘distance slabs’ are unique – nothing similar has been found elsewhere in the Roman world.  In 2009 the Antonine Wall received protected status and is now a World Heritage Site.

Distance slabs from the Antonine Wall can be seen at the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum, and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

You can visit the remains of the Antonine Wall and museums along its route display artifacts including Roman coins, brooches and sandals. Antonine Wall artifacts can be seen at Kinneil Museum in Bo’ness, Callendar House Museum in Falkirk and The Auld Kirk Museum in Kirkintilloch.

  • A photograph of the remaining bank and ditch from the Antonine wall

Click on the image to view a larger version.