Bearsden's Roman Baths can be found a couple of hundred yards east, or downhill, along Roman Road from Bearsden Cross, the centre of the town. A gate in a low stone wall on your left gives access to a remarkable example of the survival of ancient archeological remains despite later development. It was part of the Antonine Wall built between AD 142 to 144. One of wall forts was sited in what is today called Bearsden. Antiquarians had long known of its location, but the dramatic growth of Bearsden following the arrival of a railway line from Glasgow in 1863 meant that it was lost, many thought forever, under a series of large Victorian mansions. All that remained was the road that followed the line of the Antonine Wall's Military Way, which became known as Roman Road.
In the early 1970s plans were approved to replace the old houses in this area with a series of apartment blocks. Demolition of the Victorian mansions revealed that much of the Roman archaeology remained in place, covered by the fill the Victorian builders had used to level up their sloping site. A major archaeological dig got under way in 1973, which uncovered most of the ground plan of the fort.
Especially well preserved were the remains of a bath house found in an annex at the east end of the fort (ie the end furthest from the centre of Bearsden). This turned out to be one of the best surviving examples of a bath house ever found in Scotland. Although development plans originally involved building on this part of the site, it was left vacant and gifted to the nation by the developer. The remains of the bath house are cared for by Historic Scotland.
All this gives the site of Bearsden Roman Baths rather unexpected surroundings. The south side of the site is bounded by the stone wall that separates it from the pavement on Roman Road. But the other three sides of the site comprise a series of apartment blocks constructed from dark red brick, with those to the west overlaying the site of the rest of the fort.
The bath house itself was a long and fairly narrow building aligned east-west, in effect running down the hill from left to right when seen from the Roman Road side. The far, north, side of the bath house had two rooms projecting from it, while a further room projected from the middle of the south side of the bath house. A few yards to the south east of the bath house is the site of the latrine block, also very well preserved.
The nearby information board gives a very clear idea of the different components of the bath house, and this is supplemented by discreet signs attached to the foundations of the various rooms that help you identify exactly what you are looking at.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.