Falkirk’s Roman links to be boosted

Events such as Big Roman Week celebrate the town's links with Ancient Rome
Events such as Big Roman Week celebrate the town's links with Ancient Rome

More will be done over the next five years to promote The Antonine Wall as a major tourist attraction.

The Roman wall stretches from the Firth of Forth in Bo’ness through many parts of Falkirk and central Scotland to the Firth of Clyde at Old Kilpatrick.

The 39-mile construction was started in 142 AD and in 2008 was awarded World Heritage Status, giving it international recognition.

Thanks to this, the wall is now better protected than ever, with all council areas it runs through having to take steps to make sure no planning is approved close to the wall and that it is adequately signposted and promoted.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee last week, members heard the local action plan to run to 2019.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said the plan would be beneficial for everyone. She said: “This plan will not only provide a boost for tourism, but also protect the local heritage.”

The report recommends ways of developing the economic and social potential of the Antonine Wall and how to improve ways of working in partnership with organisations involved in managing the site.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “At times I have been frustrated by the lack of investment in the Antonine Wall but it looks like it will be better promoted. “

Part of the promotion includes an interactive app about to go live that visitors can download to their smart phone and use to navigate the site, highlighting important landmarks and points of interest.

The Antonine Wall phone app will be launched in the spring and, using GPS, will allow visitors to track the wall in real time as they move around the sites.

Mr Mahoney continued: “The Antonine Wall can be difficult to find as it’s not sign- posted well.

“In fact, in Bo’ness recently we had some Japanese tourists taking pictures of what they thought was the wall. We had to tell them it was just a ditch and pointed them in the right direction.”

There are not expected to be any financial implications on the council for their part in implementing the plan, although officers will need to spend more time on the attraction.

Events such as Big Roman Week, a festival in September celebrating the links Falkirk has with Ancient Rome, will continue and further ways to promote the Wall at Callendar House and Kinneil House in Bo’ness will be explored.

Councillor Robert Spears said: “I’m happy to back a local plan to promote the Antonine Wall. We need to maximise the tourism potential of the area.

“Lots of tourists come here for The Falkirk Wheel and to see The Kelpies, we need to boost The Antonine Wall and make it a must-see site for tourists as well.”

Local historian Ian Scott welcomed the plan and the launch of the new app.

He said: “The Antonine Wall is Scotland’s most important Roman monument and since 2008 a designated World Heritage site.

“With nearly half of it lying in the Falkirk Council area it is obviously a precious asset. We we must do everything in our power to protect and present it to our own people and to the thousands who come each year to Falkirk district.

“Thanks in part to the annual Big Roman Week and the work of the Friends of Kinneil, there is more local interest than ever in Scotland’s Roman heritage and the new initiatives can only make things better.”