The Antonine wall


The Antonine wall, often running through suburbs and sprawl, lacks the romance of its southern cousin – and is less obviously well-preserved. (Built in turf rather than stone, the wall’s surviving trace is most frequently its accompanying ditch. Though often it’s no more than a dip in a field, it has many moments of beauty and drama at spots such as at Bar Hill and Rough Castle.) But its history is no less rich and fascinating than that of its southerly cousin’s. In the 18th century, it found itself caught up in the nascent industrial revolution. The gentry on whose lands it stood – some of whom were important antiquaries, collecting and preserving the inscribed stones that were found along it – were beginning to make serious money from coal and steel. Keppie points out that in some cases it was the same scholars who came to study the wall who also developed bright ideas about a canal that could usefully link the Forth and the Clyde: when the canal was built, it cut through parts of the wall, as did, in turn, the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway and the M9. These interventions destroyed but they also revealed.

more from Charlotte Higgins at The Guardian here.