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The Empire strikes back … the Romans return to Falkirk district

 

romansatkinneil-300dpiFalkirk District’s Roman festival is back – and it’s bigger than ever.

The Big Roman Week kicks off on Saturday, September 17, with the largest programme to date.

Walks, talks, family events and film shows have been organised to help people find out more about the Roman Antonine Wall, which ran from Bo’ness right across Falkirk district to Old Kilpatrick near Glasgow.

Brochures for the nine-day festival are now available from local libraries. You can also check listings at http://www.bigromanweek.org.uk

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s tourism spokesman, has been helping to organise the festival. He said: “Big Roman Week offers lots of great events, many free of charge, right across Falkirk district. With the help of great partners and speakers, we’ve organised a packed programme for 2016. We hope people enjoy it.”

Highlights include:

* Big Roman Day at Kinneil House, Bo’ness, on September 17 – a family fun day featuring the Antonine Guard re-enactment group;
* events for children at Meadowbank, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Larbert and Bo’ness Libraries;
* a free conference on the Antonine Wall in the Bo’ness Hippodrome cinema;
* Roman cooking displays with John Crouch, who appeared on Robson Green’s “Tales from Northumberland”;
* talks from a guest speaker from Odenwald, Falkirk district’s twin area in Germany;
* walks along the Antonine Wall – at Bo’ness, Polmont, and at Castlecary, near Allandale;
* a community archaeology session in Camelon, Falkirk; and
* an Italian Night, showcasing great food … and the technology used to digitally scan the Antonine Wall.

Councillor Mahoney said: “For the first time ever, we’re running a mini-conference on the Antonine Wall. Guest speakers will include Dr David Breeze, the man who led the bid to turn the Roman wall into a World Heritage Site, and Dr Fraser Hunter of National Museums of Scotland. There will also be contributions about the John Muir Way, which runs past many parts of the Antonine Wall, and information on the new interpretation work to bring the Wall to life.”

Organisers regularly embrace “all things Roman” when finalising the programme.

This year, they’ve organised screenings of the Audrey Hepburn classic “Roman Holiday” in the Bo’ness Hippodrome. A giant Roman soldier model is also being installed in Falkirk Library to allow fans to take their very own “centurion selfies”.

The week will come to an end with a trek from Falkirk district into North Lanarkshire to trace the Antonine Wall from the ruins of Castlecary Roman Fort, by Allandale.

Leading all the walks will be Geoff Bailey of Falkirk Community Trust. “Geoff has been a terrific supporter of the festival since it began in 2009,” said Councillor Mahoney. “He’s taking part in many of the events during Big Roman Week, from walks along the Wall to discussions about recent archaeological finds in the local area. People are fascinated by the Romans and hopefully lots of local people will attend events during Big Roman Week.”

The idea to launch Big Roman Week came from The Friends of Kinneil charity in Bo’ness.

Maria Ford from the group said: “The festival has become a regular fixture in the local calendar and hopefully it continues to be popular with local people and visitors for many years to come.

“We’re really grateful to Falkirk Community Trust, which has organised many of the events for the Week, as well as Falkirk Council for supporting the Festival.

“Although the festival was born in Bo’ness, we’ve always been keen to involve people right across the district.”

Find out more at www.bigromanweek.org.uk

You can also get updates via the Friends of Kinneil’s social media channels:

http://www.facebook.com/kinneil (just “like”) and http://www.twitter.com/kinneil

 

THE ANTONINE WALL

  1. The Antonine Wall was built around 142AD on the orders of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius.
  2. 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.
  3. The defensive system was designed to hold back Caledonian tribes from invading southern Scotland, then under Roman rule.
  4. The Antonine Wall covered around 40 Roman miles, with around a third of the structure being constructed in Falkirk district.
  5. The Wall was abandoned in the 160s, when the Romans retreated to Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.
  6. 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.
  7. 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, near Allandale. You can also see the replica of a Roman tablet at Bridgeness, Bo’ness.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. A new website for the Wall has been launched at http://www.antoninewall.org … An app for smartphones is also being developed.

 

 

The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity
Charity Registration Number : SC038368

Visit us online at: http://www.kinneil.org.uk
Email us: info@kinneil.org.uk

 

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