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A history of the Antonine Wall and a guide to the surviving remains of Rome’s Northernmost Frontier

Bearsden to Castlehill

Wall Continues


Once you’ve finished with the stone rampart, return to Boclair Road and continue heading west. The line of the Wall continues to run parallel with the road but is now buried under the modern housing. As the road changes direction so did the the Wall. When Boclair Road comes to an end at a crossroads and set of traffic lights go straight onto Roman Road. Again the Wall continues to parallel the modern roads around 50 metres to the north-east. The modern road and Wall converge at the junction between Roman Road / Roman Drive.

Travel and Parking

Continue to 'Castlehill'

Key:

Known Fort Location (No Visible Remains)

Fort (Visible Remains)

Other visible remains

This section of the Wall runs through the residential areas of Bearsden. A central (free) car park is available near the fort along with various other local car parks and ample scope for on-road parking.

Getting There

Entering Bearsden


Assuming you were following the previous part of this guide, you have entered Bearsden from the east on Boclair Road. At this point the line of the Wall is running parallel around 150 metres to your right (north) passing through the grounds of New Kilpatrick Cemetery. There are two lengths of the rampart’s stone base within which can be accessed via the main paths that run through the grounds. Note the design - prepared curb stones at the edges and a rougher core.

This article details the line of the Antonine Wall from Bearsden to the site of the Roman Fort at Castlehill. This section passes through the urban environment of Bearsden but includes several sections of rampart stone base. It also includes the remains of the Roman Bath House that formed part of Bearsden Fort that have been excavated and left on public display.

Bearsden Roman Fort


Head onto Roman Road and you are now in the immediate vicinity of the site of Bearsden Roman Fort. This was one of the secondary forts added to the Wall when the decision was made to reduce the space between garrisons from 8 miles to around 2 miles. Built by the Twentieth Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix), Bearsden took an unconventional design in that it was initially constructed as a single large enclosure and was subsequent divided into fort and an annexe. Work had already started on a Bath House before this change was made and that structure was demolished and rebuilt in the annexe. Also of note the fort seemingly had no headquarters building - the central large complex has been identified (possibly incorrectly?) as a workshop. The fort also seems to have had significant gaps between buildings - again a particularly unusual configuration. The rest of the fort was more conventional - turf ramparts built upon a stone base and topped with a breastwork constructed with alder, hazel and willow branches. The fort's ramparts were surrounded by multiple defensive ditches, which merged into a single large one to the south. The Regiment(s) that garrisoned Bearsden are unknown although archaeological assessment of the barrack configuration perhaps suggests the presence of cavalry.


The positioning of Bearsden Fort is something of a mystery. When the additional forts were added to the frontier, the intervals between the outposts were approximately 2 miles. Bearsden is in excess of 3 miles from its eastern neighbour, Balmuildy Fort, and only 1.5 miles from Castlehill in the west. There is no obvious topographical reason for this inconsistent spacing. Whilst Balmuildy was a primary fort (that preceded construction of the Wall itself) and Castlehill occupied a naturally strong position, there is no reason why Bearsden couldn't have been built further to the east. It must be assumed there were local issues, perhaps a trade route or settlement, that made construction on this site advantageous. Alternatively it is possible Bearsden had administrative links with Castlehill - perhaps it was the base for the mounted element of the mixed infantry/cavalry Fourth Cohort of Gauls (cohors IV Gallorum quingenaria equitata) who were known to be based at the latter.

Traces of ditch near New Kilpatrick cemetery

Forts and Fortlets

Bearsden Roman Fort:

(Remains of Bath House)

Lat/Long:  55.919856N 4.327980W

Grid Ref:   NS 5461872090

Postcode: G61 2SL

Castlehill Roman Fort:

(Site of)

Lat/Long:  55.924647N 4.363258W

Grid Ref:   NS 5243272698

Postcode: N/A

Distance Slabs

Castlehill

(Original in Hunterian Museum)

IMP CAESAR T AELIO HADRIANO ANTONINO AVG PIO P P VEXILLATIO LEG VI VICTR P F PER M P III DCLXVIS


"For Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of his Country, a detachment of the Sixth Victorious, Loyal and Faithful Legion [built this] over a distance of 3666.5 paces."


Castlehill, West Dunbartonshire

Roman Park


After Bearsden Roman Fort the line of the Wall runs parallel with Roman Road running under the aptly named Roman Court and Roman Place and then under the Bearsden shops. Crossing the A809 Dryman Road it broadly follows the line of Thorn Drive. At the end of Roman Road (at the traffic light controlled crossroads), cross the A809 Dryman Road and head along Thorn Drive. Take the fourth left onto Westbourne Drive, then the first right onto Milverton Avenue, the first left onto Ballaig Avenue, left again onto Westbourne Crescent and finally right onto Iain Road. You will see steps leading up accessing the area behind the modern houses - this is the path up to Roman Park - where there are (slight) traces of ditch and a section of the rampart's stone base.

Stone base for fort rampart

Bearsden Latrines

Wall ran under Roman Court

Line of Wall

Straight on up Thorn Drive

Rampart stone base at Roman Court off Iain Road

Wall Continues


Exit Roman Park back onto Iain Road. The Wall ran directly under the modern housing and the closest match is to head north-east (right as you exit the park) and take the first left onto Nithsdale Crescent, at the end of the road turn left onto Abbotsford Road then right onto Dryburgh Road. Now take the first left onto Rosslyn Road and follow it to a pedestrian path. This was created to preserve the line of the Wall so follow it emerging onto Antonine Road.

Access to Castlehill

Path to Castlehill

Towards Castlehill Roman Fort


Once you have emerged from the footpath, turn left along Antonine Road and head onto the main road, the A810 Duntocher Road. Turn left and almost immediately you will see the path up to Castlehill, site of the next Roman fort on the frontier.

New Kilpatrick Cemetery

Rampart stone base - note the curb

This second section had a drain running through it to prevent water pooling


Boclair Road

Looking back at Boclair Road

Roman Road

Roman Road / Roman Drive junction

Bearsden Bath House

Underfloor heating

Roman Park

Rampart curb stone

The preserved line!

Site of Castlehill Roman Fort

Castlehill Roman Fort


Castlehill enclosed 3.2 acres but its was extremely well situated and even today - aided by the fact the ground has been left undeveloped - is clearly a good vantage point. The garrison was the Fourth Cohort of Gauls (cohors IV gallorum quingenaria equitata), a unit previously stationed at Castlesteads and later at Risingham and then Vindolanda.


LAT/LONG

OS GRID REF

POSTCODE

New Kilpatrick Cemetery

55.921336N 4.311443W

NS 5565672220

G61 2AF

Bearsden Roman Fort

55.919856N 4.327980W

NS 5461872090

G61 2SL

Roman Park

(Stone Base)

55.922777N 4.349849W

NS 5326272461

G61 4JA

Castlehill Fort

55.924647N 4.363258W

NS 5243272698

N/A

Visit the Antonine Wall

Carriden to MumrillsMumrills to RoughRough to CastlecaryCastlecary to WesterwoodWesterwood to Bar HillBar Hill to KirkintillochKirkintilloch to CadderCadder to BearsdenBearsden to CastlehillCastlehill to Old KilpatrickBeyond the Wall

Visit the Antonine Wall