Antonine Wall looking west from Rough Castle.

This evening, I am posting information on a well-preserved section of the Roman Antonine Wall at Bonnybidge, S.W. Scotland. Location is about twenty miles N.E. of Glasgow.

The core site is known as Rough Castle although this is a misnomer as the ‘castle’ is actually a Roman fort from the 2nd century, AD.

Approach to Rough Castle with fort on right

The Antonine Wall is often overshadowed by its more famous counterpart, Hadrian’s Wall. The former is located about 70 miles north of the latter and represented the northern frontier of the Roman Empire for about 20 years, roughly AD 140-AD 160.  Some key facts:

  • Construction was undertaken by three Roman legions: 2nd Augusta, 6th Victrix and 20th Valeria Victrix.Total manpower may have been 7,000 men.
  • Predominantly of turf construction on a stone base. Turf superstructure about 2,75m high.
  • At intervals along the Wall were at least 19 principal forts (of which Rough Castle is one). Fortlets existed at one (Roman) mile intervals.
  • Total garrison may have been 7000 men.
  • Abandoned about AD 163 when the Romans retreated to Hadrian’s Wall.

Key features of forts on the Antonine Wall:

  • Each fort formed a small enclosure protected by a rampart and several ditches.
  • Gates were usually single portal entrances.
  • Buildings inside each fort comprised H.Q., commanding officer’s house, granaries, barrack blocks and bath-house.
  • Local materials were used for construction, predominantly sandstone and timber with latter mainly comprising oak.

Protective ditches at Rough Castle

The Latin name for Rough Castle is not known. This fort is located in the eastern section of the Wall near to Falkirk where there was another fort.

Image below shows a Roman ‘minefield’. Pits were  filled with upturned sharpened stakes and then camouflaged to act as traps.This feature was known as ‘lilia’ by the Romans owing to similarity with lily pads.

Lilia at Rough Castle