The Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius ordered the construction of the Antonine Wall across the narrowest part of mainland Scotland in 142 AD. Until it was abandoned in the 160s this was the north west frontier of the Roman Empire.
It stretched 60 km from Bo’ness on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde. Some 3-4m high, it consisted of turf ramparts over a base of stone blocks with a wide ditch and glacis (or low mound) to the north. A military road ran along the south side, linking forts which were built every 3 km or so. Soldiers of the 2nd, 6th and 20th legions, stationed in Britain, built the wall leaving carved stone slabs to mark the stretches they had completed. Most of those from the western section of the Wall are now part of the collections of the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, which also houses extensive research material.
A Roman base at Old Kilpatrick may have been established some years before the wall itself, and may have been used to support Roman seaborne activity before being incorporated into the Wall’s defences. It was a rectangular site about 135 x 124m, defended by a rampart wall and ditches. A bath house and further structure were discovered in 1790 during the construction of the Forth-Clyde Canal. The whole site was excavated in 1923-4 but has subsequently been covered over by building development, most recently a bus station, now disused.