Friday, 9 June 2006

Roman heritage

Back in 1972, UNESCO came up with the idea of World Heritage Sites, defined as properties having outstanding natural or cultural value.

Ecuador's Galapagos Islands were first on the list, and other early nominees included Auschwitz concentration camp, the Grand Canyon, and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

In 1987, Hadrian's Wall, the frontier work named after my illustrious predecessor and adoptive father, Hadrian, achieved World Heritage status. The equally exciting Roman frontier remains in Germany, the so-called Obergermanisch-Rätischen Limes (ORL), were included in 2004. But what about my own frontier wall, virtually obliterated by the Forth & Clyde Canal and the small towns of Scotland's central belt? Surely it deserves recognition?

Antonine what?!
This sad sight, owned by Dobbies Garden Centre (Milngavie), is an "outdoor interpretation and display area" masquerading as a reconstruction of the Antonine Wall. The real thing, constructed around AD 142, must have been rather more impressive. It probably stood almost 3m high, and may have been surmounted by a timber palisade. In places, the ditch which fronted the wall was 12m wide and over 3m deep!

Happily, there has been a proposal to recognise the Antonine Wall as part of the new Frontiers of the Roman empire heritage site.

Fame at last!


  1. There is a map there that shows where the real wall is, but to be honest all I can see there is a bumffle in a field. I quite like the "reconstruction" - at least you get some idea of what the wall would have looked like even if the scale is a bit off. (And I remember correctly, they do say something about a palisade on the information board.)

  2. Ooops, "And I remember correctly" should have included an "if"! :-)

  3. It's just a little embarrassing when you compare it with some of our German cousins' reconstructive efforts.

  4. Best regards from NY!
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