Watling Lodge (Antonine Wall)
Watling Lodge (Antonine Wall)
There are two sections of the Roman Antonine Wall here, one on either side of the private house known as Watling Lodge. The lodge itself is not open to visitors; the real interest here are the Roman remains in any case! The section to the east is one of the best preserved ditch sections of the wall defenses. At its greatest extent the ditch is 12 metres wide by 4.5 metres deep
The Antonine Wall is essentially a Scottish equivalent to the more famous Hadrian's Wall far to the south. Unlike Hadrian's Wall, most of the Antonine Wall defenses were only turf and ditches, like the section seen here. The Antonine Wall was granted World Heritage status in 2008, as part of the much larger "Frontiers of the Roman Empire" World Heritage Site.

The section of wall at Watling Lodge is the only place along the wall (aside from the regularly spaced forts) where a road passes through. The road was defended by a guard tower and double-gates. The road north crossed the Forth and led eventually to Ardoch, in Tayside.

Visiting

The approach to Watling Lodge isn't very well signposted. More than once we had cause to thank our satnav! There is no obvious sign onto Tamforhill Road, and no brown tourist sign to show you when you've arrived at the Lodge. There is also no parking area. We parked on the access road to the indistrial estate opposite, which wasn't ideal, but at least it got us off the main road.

Now, having said all that, the Wall itself at Watling Lodge is quite impressive. This was my first real exposure to the Antonine wall, and the sheer scale of the earthwork banks and ditch was hugely impressive. Put any comparison to Hadrian's Wall out of your head; the Antonine Wall deserves to be appreciated for what it is, not for what it isn't!

You can walk a few hundred yards along the top of the wall, and there is a good information panel with an illustration showing how the Wall would have looked, and how Watling Lodge fit into the overall scheme of the defenses. If you walk to the west side of the Lodge you get a completely different view, as the Wall follows the slope of the land down, to cross the modern roadway.

If you cross Tamforhill Road there is a signposted trail along the top of the Wall as it winds through woodland. This is a very attractive length of the Wall, but the ditch is somewhat overgrown, so it is more difficult to make out the defenses. Overall, I was impressed by the stretch of the Antonine Wall at Watling Lodge; it gives a good idea of how the Wall was built, and just how impressive it must have been.