Bo'ness Foreshore, Carriden

How potteries were once a smash hit in Bo’ness

From posh plates to wally dugs, the potteries of Bo’ness made it all.

At different sites, over nearly 200 years, eye-catching collectables were manufactured.

Today, the potteries are long gone – but you can still pick up fragments of pots on the beach at Bridgeness (just beside Anderson’s woodyard).

And for those looking for more complete pieces, Bo’ness pottery can still be found in antique shops and on eBay.

There’s also an excellent website – www.bonesspottery.co.uk – keeping the memories alive.

The Bridgeness Brownware Pottery was first local pottery to arrive in 1766, occupying a site now home to the Bridgeness Slab Roman replica on Harbour Road. It operated until 1802.

Next up was Bo’ness Pottery – the town pottery – launching in 1784. It has a number of owners, including John Roebuck, one-time business partner of the inventor James Watt. The pottery was run over sites in Main Street until 1898. The town’s modern-day Tesco store now sits on part of the site.

The Grange Pottery in Grangepans came next – setting up in 1879. Sadly, it’s operations were short-lived. It lasted just ten years.

C.W. McNay’s Bridgeness Pottery then joined the ranks of local potteries, officially opening in 1888. The pottery stayed in the ownership of the McNay family until 1958. It was sited on land now occupied by Anderson’s woodyard, just off the John Muir Way.

McNay’s produced a wide range of goods, from the aforementioned wally dugs and other animals, as well as fancy plates and jugs.

A pair of pottery lions, produced in Bo’ness.

The year 1892 saw the opening of the Industrial Co-operative Pottery in Grangepans. It traded for just two years and closed in 1894. The site later became home to the West Lothian Pottery – operating from 1896 until 1929.

So why all the potteries?

One theory is that suitable clay was available locally – although more industrial processes called for finer clays from Devon and Cornwall.

Luckily, Bo’ness had a port to important raw materials. Historians also believe the long-established trading connections with Holland brought Dutch potters to the area.

Then there was an abundance of coal and salt locally, which were used in the production process.

LISTEN: Robert Jardine talks about Bo’ness Pottery in the town centre, in a free audio guide on the izi app.

“The indefatigable Dr Robebuck, in the year 1784, established the pottery in which, for the next century, was conducted one of the most important local industries. This gave Bo’ness a very wide reputation for the manufacture of many useful kinds of pottery ware.”

Historian TJ Salmon, writing in 1913.

Where were the Potteries? Check out this interactive Google Map

This content was produced in association with Sustrans Scotland as part of the Scottish Greenways Programmein association with Falkirk Council and Great Place Falkirk.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No 1797726 at 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol, BS1 5DD.

Antonine Wall, Bo'ness Foreshore, Carriden, romans

Carriden’s Roman roots

“Carriden is the site of the eastern terminal fort of the Antonine Wall, although there is, as yet, no evidence to demonstrate that it was physically part of the frontier.”Historic Environment Scotland

Did you know the Carriden area of Bo’ness was once called Velunia?

The name was given to the local Roman fort, serving the Antonine Wall. It was located in what’s now an empty field, on land looking down on Carriden Beach and the John Muir Way.

There’s a public right way from the foreshore path up to the field, just east of the 16th century Carriden House. Sadly, there’s nothing to see above ground these days.

Carriden’s Latin name came to light in a Roman altar found in the field in 1956. It’s now on show in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The altar was dedicated to the father of Roman gods, Jupiter.

The translation of the inscription says: “To Jupiter Best and Greatest, villagers residing at the fort of Velunia gladly, willingly and deservedly fulfilled their vow; Aelius Mansuetus saw that the job was carried out.”

Carriden – or Velunia – is significant because it’s the only site along the Antonine Wall where we know its Roman name. (We know other Roman names along the Wall – but don’t know which areas they relate to.)

Historical investigations reveal there was a significant fort and annexe here, housing around 500 Roman soldiers, with a village beside it. In 2008, the remains of a Roman bath house were found in the grounds of Carriden House.

The site has also yielded Roman coins and pottery – and apparently a centurion’s stone … reportedly built into Carriden House itself.

You can find out more about the Romans at an impressive replica of the Roman Bridgeness Slab off Harbour Road in Bo’ness. Further west, you’ll find Roman artefacts on show in Kinneil Museum and the remains of a fortlet in the grounds of Kinneil House. There’s also a striking modern sculpture at the entrance to the Kinneil Estate – inspired by a Roman horse harness fitting found nearby.

To find out more about the Romans in Scotland, visit the Antonine Wall website – https://www.antoninewall.org/ – and check out a number of ancient sites on/near the route of the John Muir Way.

The site of the Roman Fort at Carriden is now a field. You can walk up to the site from a track off the main John Muir Way along the coastline.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Roman Antonine Wall was once the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. It was built around 142 AD on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius to replace Hadrian’s Wall further south.

The Scottish wall was built of turf on a stone base (like parts of Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria). However, its role as an important Roman frontier was short-lived. After just a generation, the Romans retreated back to Hadrian’s Wall.

In 2008, the Antonine Wall became part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, joining Hadrian’s Wall and the Limes in Germany as part of this transnational World Heritage Site.

A Roman altar from Carriden is on show in the lower-ground displays at the National Museum in Edinburgh.

This content was produced in association with Sustrans Scotland as part of the Scottish Greenways Programmein association with Falkirk Council and Great Place Falkirk.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No 1797726 at 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol, BS1 5DD.