Roman replica takes pride of place on Antonine site

A tribute enshrined in stone by the sixth legion of the Roman Empire has been re-created in Twechar as the first part of a new trail aimed at history buffs, walkers and villagers alike.

The Antonine Wall was built by some 7,000 men from three legions from around 142 AD and stretched 37 miles, between the Clyde and the Forth.

Each legion was responsible for building sections of the wall and distance stones were created to mark their completion.

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These took the distinctive form of highly-decorative markers commemorating the legion, recording the distance built and offering a dedication to the Emperor Antoninus Pius.

As part of the Rediscovering the Antonine Wall project, a replica of the historic Eastermains stone - found at Inchbelly Bridge, to the west of Twechar, in 1740 - is being installed in the grounds of Twechar Healthy Living & Enterprise Centre, near the line of the wall.

It is the first in a series of five such markers being recreated as part of the £2.1million project.

Its key aim is to create awareness and engagement within communities along the line of the wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And the community has been involved throughout.

For Twechar Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre has worked in partnership with the project and is hosting the stone within its garden, where it will be an attraction for all those using and visiting the centre.

The village sits in the shadow of Bar Hill, where an Antonine Wall fort was located in addition to an earlier Iron Age hill fort.

The replica has been ably created by stonemasons Jo Crossland and Luke Batchelor, and incorporated into a setting designed by Land Use Consultants.

Rediscovering the Antonine Wall is being led by West Dunbartonshire Council, in partnership with East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire and Falkirk Councils, as well as Historic Environment Scotland staff.

The project runs until October 2022 and has been informed by public consultation.

Emma McMullen, Antonine Wall HLF Project Manager, said: “We are delighted to unveil the Twechar distance stone.

“Thanks to everyone involved for their incredible efforts.”

Patricia Weeks, Antonine Wall World Heritage Site Co-ordinator for HES, said: “Many of the original markers found along the line of the wall are on display in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

“However, this project gives people the chance to see how they might have looked in the landscape all those centuries ago.

“It’s a momentous achievement and will help to bring the past back to life for local communities.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded support to the project, which was match-funded by contributions from each of the partner local authorities and other external sources, including Kelvin Valley & Falkirk.

Councillor Vaughan Moody, East Dunbartonshire’s Joint Council Leader, said: “This is a great addition to the area and helps to create a window into the history of the Antonine Wall, inspiring people of all ages to find out more about Scotland’s past.

Councillor Andrew Polson, Joint Council Leader, added:“It’s important to look at ways of exploring and maximising local history and heritage - raising awareness and supporting the local economy. Well done to all.”