The Antonine Wall

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Antoninus' Wall, a Roman rampart extending from Carriden on the Firth of Forth to Chapel-Hill ¼ mile below Old Kilpatrick village on the Clyde. Agricola in 81, having two years earlier passed the shores of the Solway Firth, overran the country thence to the Forth and the Clyde, and raised a line of forts along the tract from Carriden to Chapel-Hill. Lollius Urbicus, in 139, the year after Antoninus Pins assumed the purple, was deputed as proprætor of Britain, to quell a general revolt. Marching northward to the Forth and the Clyde, he subdued -the hostile tribes, and, both to repel any further attacks which might be made from the north, and to hold in subjugation the country to the south, constructed a great new work on the line of Agricola's forts. This new work was the rampart afterwards known as Antoninus' Wall. It measured 39,726 Roman paces, or nearly 36½ English statute miles, in length; it consisted of earth on a foundation of stone, and was 24 feet thick and 20 high; it had 3 forts at each end, and 15 intermediate forts at 2-mile intervals; it was defended, along all the N side, by a fosse 20 feet deep and 40 wide; and it had, along the S side, for ready communication from fort to fort, a paved military road. Very few and slight traces of it now exist; but many memorials of it, in the form of tablets and other sculptured stones, have been dug up, and are preserved in museums; and both vestiges and relics of it will be noticed in our articles on Carriden, Falkirk, Kirkintilloch, Chapel-Hill, etc. The popular name of the rampart, or rather of its remains, came to be Grime's or Graham's Dyke-a name that has greatly perplexed archæologists and philologists. It was long fancied, from a fiction of Fordoun, Boece, and Buchanan, to point to an ancient Scottish prince of the name of Grime, who, with a body of troops, broke through the wall somewhere between Camelon and Castlecary; and it has been hesitatingly derived from either a Gaelic word for ` black ' or a Welsh word signifying ` strength.' See-besides Gordon's Itinerarium Septentrionale, Roy's Military Antiquities, and Stuart's Caledonia Romana—vol. i., pp. 31-36 of Hill Burton's History of Scotland (ed. 1876); vol. i., pp. 76-79 of Skene's Celtic Scotland (1876); and pp. 1023-1025 of The Builder (1877).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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