Government backs World Heritage bid

A bust of Antonius Pius SCOTS Secretary Des Browne has told of the UK Government’s support to help make the Antonine Wall – which runs from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick – Britain’s latest World Heritage Site.

His comments come just weeks before a committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decide on the application, which would bring the special status to Kinneil Fortlet in Bo’ness (see picture below) and other Roman sites along the line of the Wall. If approved, the Scottish frontier would join other World Heritage Sites like the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China on an international list of must-see places.

In response to questions by Bo’ness MP Michael Connarty, Mr Browne told the Commons: “Securing that status will generate significant potential, not just in cultural terms but in terms of tourism, and will present a good opportunity to combine the exploitation of that potential with the 2014 Commonwealth games. I shall do everything I can to ensure that all these objectives and opportunities are exploited fully. For my own part, I have already written to the committee to express the support of the Scotland Office and the UK Government at that level for this bid.”

“I really hope this bid is successful as it will bring tourists to Bo’ness and the surrounding area.”

The Scottish bid is part of a joint international effort (incorporating sites in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) to nominate the Antonine Wall as an extension of the trans-national “Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site” which includes Hadrian’s Wall and the Upper Raetian German Limes.

Mr Browne added: “This is a very exciting opportunity for Scotland. In 2003, the Government endorsed the working up of a formal bid for world heritage status for the Antonine Wall, and in 2007 the nomination was submitted to UNESCO as an extension of the frontiers of the Roman Empire transnational world heritage site . . . Between 2 and 10 July in Quebec, a decision will be made by the World Heritage Committee.”

Bo’ness Councillor Adrian Mahoney, the convener of environment and heritage at Falkirk Council, said the town was excited about the prospect of becoming the UK’s next World Heritage Site.

“Bo’ness people are very proud of their heritage – from our Roman roots to the town’s important role during the industrial revolution. For a small town, Bo’ness played a crucial role in the heritage of this country and it would be a great honour for the Antonine Wall to become the UK’s next World Heritage Site. I really hope this bid is successful as it will bring tourists to Bo’ness and the surrounding area.”

The Wall was built around142 AD on the orders of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (pictured above right). It survived as the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for a generation before being abandoned in the 160s in favour of a return to Hadrian’s Wall.  The main road through Bo’ness – Dean Road leading onto Grahamsdyke Road – was built on the line of the wall, covering the stone and turf structure. However, evidence of the frontier still exists at Kinneil Estate, where the remains of a fortlet are on display. Artefacts from the period are also on show in neighbouring Kinneil Museum.

At Bridgeness, one of the best Roman finds in Britain was discovered – a distance slab from the Wall. A partial copy of the slab is on show in Harbour Road. However, Bo’ness Community Council is working with Council officials to bring a proper copy back to the town and put it on display. The impressive original is in the Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, Edinburgh.

To find out more about the Antonine Wall visit

To find out more about UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee, visit http://whc.unesco.org/en

Find out about Antonius Pius and his Wall on Wikipedia