Military Way, Antonine Wall
Start location: Twechar (NS 702 753)
End location: Castlecary (NS 785 782)
Geographical area: Campsie Fells
Path Type: Roman Road
Path distance: 9.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
Newsflash: Tuesday 18th April is 2017's World Heritage Day. As one of Scotland's six World Heritage sites, the Antonine Wall is taking part in the Scotland in Six celebrations with a Romans vs Picts 5km race followed by a Great Roman Bake Off at the site of the Wall in the grounds of Callendar House. The Antonine Wall was designated part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2008 - a useful interactive map of the Wall is available providing information about the history of sites along its route. Nearly 8km of the Wall is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.
Athough we don't have a full recent survey of this route, it has been described as the best part of the Antonine Wall to follow and it's relatively accessible. A shorter section survey follows below; it may be outdated in some of the detail, so we would greatly appreciate any updates...
Dullatur (NS745771) to Castlecary (NS778779):
The right of way goes east from the road, along the good landrover track to East Dullatur. There is a gate with kissing gate / stile at East Dullatur Farm (NS747772) and another before reaching the railway line. Go underneath the railway line. A new kissing gate / stile gives access to the Antonine Wall where there is a Historic Scotland explanatory plaque. Follow the landrover track which continues uphill for a short distance. The route levels off near Westerwood where there is another gate which opens easily. After Westerwood (another route goes south to Cumbernauld from here) the path deteriorates and crosses the Wall ditch to a gate at NS764774. After this path, the route has can be difficult underfoot due to trampling by cattle and poor drainage. There is an obvious way between what were hawthorn hedges, now overgrown, but conditions underfoot have required others to deviate round them. The Wall ditch is now to the north and drainage problems persist until a gate (reportedly very difficult to open) is reached (NS769776). At this point the Wall ditch is re-crossed and a Historic Scotland plaque describes the Antonine Wall. The route continues through woodland on the south side of the Wall. At NS770777, the right of way turns north and then east to reach Wyndford Road. Our surveyor continued along the line of the Wall crossing the first of three fences; the first and last have step-over stiles, the middle two do not. The route reaches a field margin where a Historic Scotland sign has been removed. Access to Wyndford Road is by a difficult-to-open gate. 3.5km
The Heritage Paths (Campsie Fells) Project has a lovely Campsies map leaflet showing this historic route and other paths in the area. To get your hands on one, simply send us an SAE c/o ScotWays (see address top-right) and we'll post one out to you. If you send a bigger envelope, we know ScotWays have a very nice North Lanarkshire Antonine Walks leaflet too, so you may get both and perhaps some other maps too.
OS Landranger 64 (Glasgow)
The Antonine Wall was built during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. It was probably begun about 142 AD and finished around 12 years later. It was built out of stone and turf with a ditch to the north, was 39 miles long and had 19 forts along its length. Use of the wall lasted only about 20 years before the Romans retreated to Hadrian's Wall in England. They attempted to reuse it again during the reign of Septimus Severus but again this lasted only a few years - this led to the wall being called the Severan Wall for a time. It has also been known as Grim's Dyke and Graham's dyke.
There is known to have been a Military Way along the south side of the wall. This is thought to have been used by Roman patrols guarding the line, and for reinforcing or checking the forts which lie at roughly two mile intervals. The Military Way is said to have been about 5.5m wide and to have lain about 50m south of the wall. However it is very difficult - in fact impossible in places - to know exactly which line the road took as sometimes it is very close to the wall and at other times it is quite far away; it also disappears completely. What can be said is that Romans walked this way regularly and today we can get some idea of the road's line ourselves by walking rights of way and other routes along the wall.
In 2014, Cameron Black published his book An Antonine Trail which includes mapping by Heritage Paths' favourite cartographer David Langworth. It's recommended reading if you'd like to follow the line of the Antonine Wall and learn about its history along the way. ScotWays has a limited number of copies for sale. As Cameron has generously offered to donate the total cost of the book (£12) for each copy the ScotWays office sells directly, buying the book benefits Heritage Paths too! Please contact the ScotWays office for more details.