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The Antonine Wall was built during the years following 142 AD on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161) and 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.

It stretched for nearly 60 km (40 Roman miles) across the narrow waist of Scotland from Bo’ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde and consisted of a turf rampart perhaps 3-4 m high fronted by a great ditch.

The material from the ditch was tipped out onto the north side to form a wide, low mound or glacis. Forts were placed along the Wall at approximately 3 km intervals; many had annexes attached to one side. The forts were linked by a road, the Military Way.

In between the forts sometimes lay a fortlet and in addition 3 pairs of expansions, possibly serving as beacon platforms, have been found as well as small enclosures and other features. It was through the gates of these forts and fortlets that many Roman goods passed into the lands of Caledonia beyond. Some of the labour camps used by the soldiers building the Wall are known. Inscriptions demonstrate that the Antonine Wall was built by soldiers of the three legions of Britain, the Second, Sixth and Twentieth. Despite its short life, excavation has revealed a complicated building history for the Antonine Wall.

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