A festival dubbed “2000 years in the making” is back this weekend.
Big Roman Week kicks off on Saturday, September 17 – promising walks, talks, family events and heritage tours.
The festival aims to raise awareness of the Roman Antonine Wall and its surrounding landscape.
This year, events will take place in Bo’ness, Falkirk and Bonnybridge – and all will be free of charge.
You can also find details in Falkirk Council libraries.
Friends’ chairman Ian Shearer said: “Big Roman Week aims to highlight the fantastic heritage we have in this area, including the stunning Kinneil Estate, at the eastern end of the Roman Antonine Wall.
“This year, we’ve worked closely with Falkirk Council, Historic Environment Scotland and other partners to compile the 2022 programme. We think there’s something for everyone.”
The programme – which runs to just over a week – kicks off with Doors Open Days this coming weekend.
Kinneil House, the Falkirk Steeple and the Museum of Scottish Railways are all providing free public access. (Check the Doors Open Day website for booking and access information).
Local libraries will play an important part in this year’s festival.
Bo’ness and Bonnybridge Libraries will host children’s events to make Roman-style clay pots. There will also be an attempt to recreate the Antonine Wall in LEGO.
For older visitors, there will be a screening of a film about the famous Bridgeness Slab (or Tablet) from Bo’ness, as well as special talks from historians Dr Louisa Campbell from the University of Glasgow and Geoff Bailey from Falkirk Local History Society.
Geoff is also providing an update on recent archaeological work in the area at Falkirk’s Trinity Church on September 21.
On Saturday, September 24, there are plans for a Big Roman family fun day in Kinneil. The Antonine Guard re-enactment group are expected to set up a Roman camp alongside stalls and displays. There will also be free tours (bookable in advance) around Kinneil House.
The Antonine Wall was built of turf and is sometimes hard to see. But free walks will give people the chance to visit Roman sites and step back in time.
A walk around Kinneil Estate (which boasts a Roman fortlet) will take place on September 20 and the festival will end on September 25 with a walk to the Carriden Roman fort site in Bo’ness.
Mr Shearer said: “The Antonine Wall became a World Heritage Site in 2008. But its stories are still unknown to many local people and visitors. Activities like Big Roman Week help people to discover local heritage sites, meet experts and find out more about local history. And we try to have fun in the process.
“This year, all of our activities are free of charge, so please come along and support them. Full details are on the Kinneil website at kinneil.org.”
THE ANTONINE WALL
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 in the 160s 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 Falkirk 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, near Allandale. You can also see the replica of a Roman tablet at Bridgeness, Bo’ness.
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 FRIENDS OF KINNEIL
The Friends of Kinneil charity works to promote and develop Kinneil Estate, a historical park at the western edge of Bo’ness. The group founded the Big Roman Week festival in 2009 to raise awareness of the area’s Roman links. The Festival is always held around September 19 – the date of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius’s birthday.
The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity. Charity Registration Number : SC038368
Big Roman Week also has a dedicated listings website at https://bigromanweek.wordpress.com
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Following news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – and confirmation that her funeral will take place on September 19 – no Big Roman Week events will take place on that day, as a mark of respect.
A new Antonine Wall film, originally due to be screened at the Bo’ness Hippodrome on that date, will now premiere in October.
Issued by Adrian Mahoney, THE PR STORE
On behalf of the Friends of Kinneil
Tel: 07967 150560 or email: email@example.com