Bearsden

Peter McKeague (RCAHMS) – East Dunbartonshire

East Dunbartonshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

East Dunbartonshire ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

My name is Peter McKeague and I work in the Data and Recording team in the Survey and Recording group at RCAHMS.  As Data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project manager, I am involved in a wide range of projects documenting Scotland’s rich heritage and presenting it online through Canmore. I am interested in how developments in information technology help our public and professional users discover more about the historic environment around them.

In 2008 I was involved in helping colleagues research and prepare maps supporting the successful nomination of the Antonine Wall as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

 

‘To the NE of Glasgow, the Antonine Wall snakes through the modern landscape of Bearsden.  Two short stretches of the wall are visible at New Kilpatrick cemetery and visitors may also explore the remains of the Roman Bath House at Bearsden, part of the Roman fort now buried under houses.’ ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

To the NE of Glasgow, the Antonine Wall snakes through the modern landscape of Bearsden.  Two short stretches of the wall are visible at New Kilpatrick cemetery and visitors may also explore the remains of the Roman Bath House at Bearsden, part of the Roman fort now buried under houses

Built under the orders of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in AD 140s, the Antonine Wall formed the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire for a generation. Cutting across Scotland, between the Firth of Forth at Bo’ness and the Clyde at Bowling, the frontier is 37 miles long. The Antonine Wall has a turf-built rampart, in front of which is a flat area, or berm, separating the rampart from a deep ditch with a further mound beyond.  A series of forts occur at intervals along the Wall and those at Rough Castle, Bar Hill and Castle Cary may be visited.  The outline of a fortlet is set out to the west of Kinneil House. Bath houses may be seen at Bar Hill and at Bearsden. About a third of the Antonine Wall is still visible with stretches at Callendar House, Seabegs Wood and  Watling Lodge and by Rough Castle and Castle Cary Roman Forts.

However, I have chosen the two short sections of wall footing on display at New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Bearsden to illustrate the frontier.  Although closely spaced, the two sections mark a change in direction of the wall as it skirts round the contours of the hillside.  The exposed sections show the stone base, on which the rampart was built providing a rare insight into the construction of the rampart. The rampart base consists of carefully dressed kerbstones with rough boulder infill punctuated by stone-lined drainage culverts.  These two short sections present a very different view from the upstanding earthworks surviving elsewhere along the wall.

 

The stone footings of the Antonine Wall, New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Bearsden, viewed from west. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1340570)

The stone footings of the Antonine Wall, New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Bearsden, viewed from west. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1340570)

Beyond the cemetery wall, the frontier survives as a very slight earthwork and infilled ditch.

Culverts through the base of the wall helped drainage and prevented ponding of water against the rampart. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1340589)

Culverts through the base of the wall helped drainage and prevented ponding of water against the rampart. Copyright RCAHMS (SC1340589)

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