North of the Wall

Thinking about it October probably isn’t the best time to be starting an investigation into the landscape of the Antonine Wall but we Scots archaeologists are made of fairly stern stuff. Well, I say Scots. I’m not Scottish but I’ve been here long enough to have acclimatised somewhat.

That said, whilst the air certainly had a bite to it we were treated to a rather spectacular autumnal day when me and my companero Ben visited the Antonine Wall in order to kick start my dissertation’s practical side. The following are a handful of photographs that I took that day. We initially started our walk at Callendar House/Park to the south of Falkirk. This is a former stately home, now museum, nestled in rather beautifully verdant grounds. Most interesting however is that it shares these grounds with a housing scheme of high rise flats. A rather jarring juxtaposition of the traditional environs of the landed gentry that is now overlooked by a working class community. This is definitely something I will be exploring in more detail as my work progresses.

Another interesting feature of the site is the way that the Wall, accompanied by the main road to the north, forms a border between the scheme, park and country house and the slightly more affluent housing. Seen here as we looked out from civilisation upon the barbarian north.

Yet another interesting juxtaposition was the conflict between the ancient empire and the British Empire. Below we see an access road that was cut directly through the Antonine Wall for the visit to Callendar house of Queen Victoria.

From Callendar House we drove to Bo’ness, by way of a fruitless search for a chip shop in Falkirk, to the Kinneil Estate. Here we had to navigate the estate grounds until we were behind the house itself where we passed James Watt‘s cottage(no roof, must have been drafty) and travelled through a magical gate into an invisible village.

All that remained of the village is one wall of its former church which, despite its abandonment, still shows signs of life. Scatters of broken green glass imply that Buckfast Tonic Wine had been being consumed there, possibly for ritual celebratory purposes. A clear sign of the continuing Christian influence in the area.

The church itself also showed signs of life. as the wall was clearly giving birth to  a tree. A vegetative second coming perhaps?

Passing by a, seemingly enchanted, pond we eventually found the Kinneil fortlet.

Looking out at the barbarian north from within the confines of the Roman Empire.

Looking in at the Empire from the free lands of the north.


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