SCOTLAND’S biggest Roman festival returns this September . . . and organisers are promising something for everyone.
The Big Roman Week 2017 will deliver heritage events right across the Falkirk Council area – at the eastern end of the Roman Antonine Wall.
Walks, talks, films and family events are planned to encourage people to find out more about their Roman roots.
The fun kicks off on Saturday, September 16, and runs until Sunday, September 24. Many events, although not all, will be free of charge.
The full programme will be unveiled next month. However, organisers say highlights will include:
- A Big Roman Day at Kinneil House, Bo’ness, on September 16 – with a Roman encampment in the grounds;
- An Antonine Wall Community Conference at the historic Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness on September 17;
- events at libraries and museums across the Falkirk Council area;
- And walks to Roman sites along the Antonine Wall – at Carriden (Bo’ness); Rough Castle (near Bonnybridge), Croy Hill and Bar Hill (near Kirkintilloch).
Anyone interested in finding out more can sign up for alerts at www.bigromanweek.org.uk
The festival is the idea of the charity The Friends of Kinneil in Bo’ness. It wanted to raise the profile of the Antonine Wall which runs from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick near Glasgow.
With the support of partners such as Falkirk Council, Falkirk Community Trust and Historic Environment Scotland, the festival has grown in recent years – attracting people from across the country.
Adrian Mahoney from The Friends of Kinneil said: “Our big aim is to encourage more people to find out about Scotland’s Roman past. The Antonine Wall became a World Heritage Site in 2008. But its stories are still unknown to many people across the country. Activities like Big Roman Week help people to discover local heritage sites, meet great experts and find out more about heritage. We also try to have fun in the process.
“Printed programmes for this year’s festival will be distributed across the Falkirk Council area in August. We’ll also publicise events at www.bigromanweek.org.uk and through the Friends’ social media accounts including @BigRomanWeek.”
Liz Buchanan MBE, Regional Partnerships Director for the Falkirk area at Visit Scotland, says the festival is particularly appropriate this year, as Scotland celebrates its themed year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
“This year we’re delving into the past and discovering Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide variety of new and existing activities across Scotland. Events like Big Roman Week encourage people to visit venues, spend money in local economies and boost tourism. They also get people to appreciate the history – sometimes hidden – on their doorsteps. I wish the organisers every success with their plans for this year’s festival.”
She added: “The themed year continues until Hogmanay and there are lots of great things going on. Look out for the hashtag #HHA2017 and get heritage updates on social media. Scotland has wonderful heritage. Get out and enjoy it.”
Find out more at www.bigromanweek.org.uk
You can also get updates via the Friends of Kinneil’s social media channels:
- The Antonine Wall was built around 142AD on the orders of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius.
- The turf and stone frontier – more accurately a turf rampart fronted by a wide and deep ditch – ran from Bo’ness right through Falkirk district to Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow. Along the line of the Wall were a series of forts and fortlets.
- The defensive system was designed to hold back Caledonian tribes from invading southern Scotland, then under Roman rule.
- The Antonine Wall covered around 40 Roman miles, with around a third of the structure being constructed in Falkirk district.
- The Wall was abandoned around AD 160, when the Romans retreated to Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.
- Today, many parts of the Antonine Wall lie under towns and settlements, built long after the Romans departed Scotland. However, evidence of the wall’s ramparts and buildings can still be found.
- The local area is fortunate in having a number of highly visible parts of the Antonine Wall. As well as the remains of a fortlet at Kinneil, and a fort at Rough Castle, near Bonnybridge, the Antonine Wall can also be seen at Polmont Woods; Watling Lodge, Tamfourhill (near the Falkirk Wheel), Callendar Park in Falkirk; Seabegs Woods, near Bonnybridge; and Castlecary Roman Fort. You can also see the replica of a Roman tablet at Bridgeness, Bo’ness (pictured above).
- In addition, there are free exhibitions on the Romans in local museums, Callendar House, Falkirk, and Kinneil in Bo’ness. Outside the district, there are displays in the Auld Kirk Museum in Kirkintilloch; the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow; and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
- The Wall became part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site in 2008, joining Hadrian’s Wall and the German Limes frontier. It also meant that Falkirk district became home to Scotland’s fifth world heritage site.
- The Big Roman Week was launched in 2009 to celebrate the area’s Roman links. The Festival is always held around September 19 – the date of the Emperor Antoninus Pius’s birthday.
- A new website for the Wall has been launched at www.antoninewall.org … An app for smartphones is also being developed.