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Antonine Wall to be World Heritage Site?

21/02/2003

The Antonine Wall has been nominated to become a World Heritage Site as part of an initiative involving three other European countries.

Antonine Wall at Seabegs Wood Scotland, Austria, Germany and Slovakia have all signalled their intention to nominate local sections of the Roman occupation for World Heritage Status.

The United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) is looking at a proposal to take forward the separate nominations under one name 'European Frontiers of the Roman Empire'.

This is the first time there has been a multi-country bid made for World Heritage status. If the European proposal is successful it is hoped that the African and Asian nations with Roman frontiers would seek inclusion.

Deputy Culture Minister Elaine Murray said:

"This is excellent news for the Antonine Wall, the best preserved frontier in the whole Roman Empire after Hadrian's Wall.

"It is remarkable that these earthworks, constructed some 2,000 years ago, have survived so well. World Heritage Site status should ensure their survival for many years to come and emphasise the history we share with our European neighbours.

Rough Castle Fort on Antonine Wall

"Scotland's wealth of culture is a major draw for tourism, our biggest industry. Our world class natural and culture heritage is essential in maintaining and improving our share of the tourism market, and we are committed to ensuring it remains in good condition and receives the recognition it deserves."

The Antonine Wall stretches from Old Kirkpatrick on the Clyde to Bo'ness on the Forth and is 37 miles in length.

It was built on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius following the re-conquest of Southern Scotland by his army in 140-142 A.D.

The 'wall' consists of a turf rampart on a stone base, fronted by a wide and deep ditch. Forts linked by a road, were built at roughly two-mile intervals. The Antonine Wall was only occupied for a generation, being abandoned soon after 160 A.D. About two-thirds of the Wall survives today, the rest has been lost to housing, factories and roads.

Antonine Wall at Watling Lodge, FalkirkFour miles of the Antonine Wall and four forts are in the care of Scottish Ministers and looked after by Historic Scotland.

Scotland currently has four World Heritage Sites (WHS). The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, St Kilda Archipelago, Edinburgh Old and New Towns, and New Lanark.

Hadrian's Wall in England is already a World Heritage Site designated in 1988. There are only 600 WHSs across the world.