Legionary inscription in Scotland: Abbotsford

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Abbotsford © David Gill

A fragmentary Latin inscription is built (at an angle) into the garden wall of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott (RIB 2216). It was first known c. 1797 at Callendar House in Falkirk (see Canmore). This location has suggested that the inscription may have been linked to the Antonine Wall. Scott lived at Abbotsford from 1812-32.

The inscription reads: A vexi[llatio]  | of the XXI[I] legion | Primigenia.

At the top left appear to be the legs of what could be a Capricorn, the emblem of Legio XXII. This legion was posted in Upper Germany.

The Legio XXII is also attested from the Roman fort of Birrens, to the north-west of Carlisle (Canmore). An inscription attesting the presence of troops from Legio VIII Augusta and Legio XXII Primigenia was found in 1991 (Britannia 1992, 318, no. 20 [JSTOR]). It has been suggested that this inscription is Antonine in date, and probably associated with troop movements during the construction of the Antonine Wall.

Antonine Wall: Seabegs Wood

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Antonine Wall at Seabegs Wood © David Gill

One of the best preserved sections of the Roman frontier system known as the Antonine Wall can be found at Seabegs Wood (to the west of Rough Castle). This is now is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.

The Antonine Wall at Rough Castle

One of the most surprising Roman monuments is the ‘turf’ Antonine Wall that stretches effectively from the Firth of Forth to the Clyde. One of the best preserved sections is at the Roman fort of Rough Castle (near Falkirk). As you look northwards you get a sense of the edge of empire (though, of course, the network of Roman forts stretches northwards).

DOE Guide: The Antonine Wall

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The Department of Environment published guides on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The one for the Roman frontier known as the Antonine Wall was published in 1973 with a second impression in 1974. The text is by David J. Breeze, with illustrations by Tom Borthwick. The guide is printed with the equivalent of 6 pages on each side of the folded strip. The cost was 10p.

Four pages have a colour map showing the line of the wall with ‘the best places to see the wall’.

The text sections have an introduction to the Antonine Wall, as well as the Roman army. The reverse covers four of the forts: Rough Castle, Castlecary, Croy Hill, and Bar Hill. There is a plan for each of the four forts, and there is an additional aerial photograph of Rough Castle. Local directions are provided for each fort.

There is a short reading list of three items that includes the OS Map of the Antonine Wall.