Bar Hill Roman Fort lies near the top of Bar Hill, in a strategic location looking north over the Kelvin Valley to the Campsie Fells. It was built as one of the forts housing troops manning the Antonine Wall, which was for a while the north-west frontier of a Roman Empire. Along with Rough Castle near Falkirk, it is one of the two best locations along the Antonine Wall to gain a real impression of what the wall was like, and what life would have been like for the troops manning it.

The Antonine Wall was built from AD 142 to 144 and ran for 60km from Bo'ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. Like the better known Hadrian's Wall to the south, it formed a solid barrier right across the country. A clear symbol of Roman power and authority, the wall probably served to control the movement of people and goods between the Roman-controlled area to the south and the lands to the north.

The wall was in use for around 20 years. The relatively short period of occupation and the materials used in its construction mean that it has survived less well than Hadrian's Wall: but in its day it would have been just as formidable a barrier. The wall itself was built on stone foundations, 4.3m broad, on top of which turf was laid to a height of 3.6m. The top of the wall probably carried a wooden walkway protected by a wooden breastwork.

In front of the wall a ditch was dug to a depth of 3.6m and a breadth of up to 12m, with the spoil forming a mound along the north edge of the ditch. And in some places, as can be seen at Rough Castle, the wall was additionally protected by pits containing stakes. A little way to the south of the line of the wall ran a Roman Road, the Military Way, which was some 6m wide. At intervals of around 2 miles a fort was built to house the troops manning the wall. There were probably 19 of these along the wall, though only 17 have been found on the ground.

Bar Hill Roman Fort was unusual in that its north wall does not form part of the Antonine Wall itself. Instead, while the Antonine Wall follows a course a little way down the shoulder of the north side of Bar Hill, the fort is draped over the summit of the hill and built on its upper slopes. The Military Way passed between the fort and the wall.

It has to be said that the Antonine Wall as it runs along the flank of Bar Hill is not as well preserved as it is at Rough Castle, though here you do get more of a sense of how it would have commanded the landscape. Perhaps the best reason to visit is that, after excavations between 1979 and 1982, the plan and some lower levels of stonework of some of the buildings were left on view.

The largest visible building is the headquarters, placed on the south-facing slope of the hill, presumably with an eye to maximising sunlight. But in many ways the most impressive building is the bathhouse, which originally stood close to the north wall of the fort on the fairly steep northern slope of the hill. Here enough remains on the ground to give an impression of the function of what, for many who lived here, would have been one of the most essential buildings in the fort.

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Founded: 142-144 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Matthew Allen (3 months ago)
Very nice place and free! About .50 miles/800 meters walk up a decent path, some loose gravel but not much. The ascent takes about 25 minutes of casual walking. Very beautiful scenery and you may even get right up next to some cows. Old bunkers, maybe, near the path as well. The site itself you have to use your imagination on, they have outline and signposts telling you what was supposed to be. Antonio wall is maybe still there, not sure...there is a ravine and some rocks that look old...but 1800 years old I cannot say. You should come here though to experience a piece of history. There are no staff members or building here, no toilets or cafes here as well. Great place for a picnic!
Erin Campbell (5 months ago)
A must see if you’re in the area! The walk is lovely and there’s great information signs around the site. A great thing to do on a sunny day!
Conner Regan (10 months ago)
Nice easy walk, took my 3 year old he was fine. There is 2 ways (maybe 3) to the top of Bar Hill, one is a gentle incline with the other, which we came down, very steep. Lovely walk taking you through the farmers fields then the woods and then onto Barr Hill itself, some great well signed points of interest on the walk, which could be done quickly if no breaks. View from the top was exceptional, I was lucky it was a nice clear day, had a picnic then ascended the steep slope, the views are absolutely unreal: You can see all Campsie Glens and facing Croy Hill and Roman Fort.
Alan English (15 months ago)
Fantastic walk for the family and friends. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend to all.
John waller (15 months ago)
A serene spot with an amazing view. Some stonework showing from previous investigations, such as the Bathouse and Headquarter building foundations. There's a general fort shaped earthwork, but dont expect high walls and deep ditches. It's worth it for the view, but quite a steep 10 minute hill walk to the top, with no vehicle access.
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