The Antonine Wall World Heritage Site Application

Early in 2003, Scottish Executive Ministers, initiated a proposal to have the Antonine Wall put forward as a World Heritage Site. The Antonine Guard pledged their support at the earliest opportunity and supported the launch of the T.A.W. as an educational resource.

One of the remits of our organisation is to help raise the public profile and awareness of Scotland's archaeological and cultural inheritance from Roman times. We therefore see the application for World Heritage Site status as a major opportunity for bringing not only The Antonine Wall, but also other major iconic Roman sites in Scotland, such as the Gask Ridge and Ardoch fort, to much greater public awareness and appreciation.

We are motivated to do so from several viewpoints: the intrinsic archaeological value of the sites per se; the current often disgraceful abuse and dereliction of these Roman sites and our awareness from our widespread experience throughout Europe and the UK, of how Roman heritage has brought massive socio- economic benefits to local and national communities through cultural tourism.

Such benefits can, of course, only be achieved sustainably, if they are first predicated upon the protection and conservation of the archaeological integrity of the site in question. This is no more true than in the case of The Antonine Wall, because of the negative impacts of the industrial revolution and post industrial decline over the last 200 years. These negative impacts include having large sections of the wall being lost through industrial development/social building, coupled with ongoing vandalism and neglect, especially, but not exclusively, in the more socially deprived areas.

We therefore welcome the fact that the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport initiated contact with the planning departments of the local government authorities along the line of the wall to ensure proper protection of its remains and immediate environs. This is a very important, indeed vital first step, but securing the future for The Antonine Wall if not the achievement of World Heritage Site status, will require not only statutory, protective, planning procedures, but also a wide ranging social, economic and educational approach. The first and the last will be especially important in developing a new local culture where T.A.W. will be seen as a valued community 'possession' and not just somewhere to dump industrial or garden refuse, old cars or to be used as a quad/trail bike training course. There is a positive feedback loop in this too, because if something that the world values runs through a local community's backyard and it also generates economic activity and employment, then of course it will help encourage a natural stewardship and local 'policing' psychology within that said community.

To this end The Antonine Guard seeks to continue and expand its work with schools, museums, universities, local history groups, local and national government and private organisations in promoting and protecting The Antonine Wall and other iconic Roman sites in Scotland.