The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier

The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier

‘The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier’ is a permanent gallery which showcases a unique collection of spectacular monumental sculpture and other Roman artefacts recovered from the Antonine Wall. 

The Antonine Wall was built around the year AD 142 in the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. It ran coast-to-coast across Scotland from the Clyde to the Firth of Forth.

The building of the new frontier limes was the culmination of a renewed attempt by the Romans to extend their empire into what is now southern Scotland. The Romans had already attempted to overrun Scotland in the late 1st century AD, but by 100 AD the Roman army had withdrawn to a line between the Solway and Tyne; it was here that the emperor Hadrian established a wall soon after 120 AD, which was to serve as the northern frontier of the Roman province of Britannia. However, scarcely 20 years later, with the accession of the new emperor Antoninus Pius, Hadrian’s Wall was abandoned, and the limits of the province extended northwards into the territory named by the Romans as Caledonia. 

Despite this immense investment in men and materials, the new frontier was short-lived and Roman troops may have been withdrawn from Scotland by the mid 160s AD, after little more than 20 years of occupation. Hadrian’s Wall became once again the frontier of the province until the final withdrawal of the legions from Britannia in the early 5th century AD.

This gallery explores the biography of one of the most important monuments of Roman Britain. The richly sculptured distance slabs of the Antonine Wall are unique to the frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Through The Hunterian’s rich collections the gallery investigates four key themes: The building of the Wall – its architecture and impact on the landscape; the role of the Roman army on the frontier - the life and lifestyle of its soldiers; the cultural interaction between Roman and indigenous peoples, and evidence for local resistance; and the abandonment of the Wall and the story of its rediscovery over the last 350 years. 

'The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier' also reflects the story of over three centuries of collecting and research by the University of Glasgow on the World Heritage Site.

The display is located in the Hunterian Museum entrance gallery.

‘The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier’ has been supported by Museums Galleries Scotland.

View slideshow of objects from The Antonine Wall display.