A new replica distance stone and towering Roman head sculpture mark another exciting chapter in history at the Nethercroy Site of the Antonine Wall, part of the UNESCO Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage site.
The Roman head sculpture, was named Silvanus, following a public naming competition, and means Roman god of the woods. Sitting alongside a replica of a distance stone, originally found at Westerwood and now replicated by stonemasonry students at the City of Glasgow College, the installations aim to raise awareness of Roman heritage and the significance of this historical site to the local community and visitors from further afield.
The Antonine Wall runs across Croy Hill, and the site at Nethercroy was selected for its close proximity to the Wall yet is far enough away to not cause any damage to the Scheduled Ancient Monument. It’s situated on a major path network with easy access from the canal and the John Muir Way, encouraging people to come along and steep themselves in the area’s history.
The exciting sculpture has been commissioned as part of The Rediscovering the Antonine Wall project. This is a partnership of five local authorities and Historic Environment Scotland, led by West Dunbartonshire Council, which is delivering a wide range of community-led projects along the line of the wall. The aim of the £2.1m project is to raise awareness of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site among local communities, give them the opportunity to explore and share aspects of Roman heritage that are important to them locally, and encourage community-led regeneration and place-making.
Emma McMullen, Antonine Wall Project Manager at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “We are delighted to launch the replica distance stone and sculpture to raise awareness of the area’s Roman heritage amongst the local community and for visitors to Croy Hill. The unique partnership with City of Glasgow College has added significant value in terms of proving opportunities for the students involved and the sculpture is already proving to be a draw to the local area, putting the Antonine Wall at Croy Hill firmly on the map.”
Distance stones are highly decorated stone sculptures offering a dedication to a Roman Emperor and marking the distance of the wall completed. The original distance stone was found at nearby Arniebog, by Westerwood Fort in 1868 and is now in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. The replica was produced in partnership with City of Glasgow College which gave stonemasonry students the opportunity to carve a replica based on the original.
Designed by artist Svetlana Kondakova and Big Red Blacksmiths, the metal sculpture is of a Roman soldier’s head. It looks out from the line of the Antonine Wall across the Kelvin Valley towards what the Romans considered ‘barbarian’ territory, beyond the edge of the Roman Empire.
Lorna Bowden, Planning and Place Manger with North Lanarkshire Council, said: “The development of this new sculpture and stone is exciting, not just for the local community but for everyone with an interest in Roman history and the Antonine Wall. The local community is extremely proud of the heritage that’s right on their doorstep and this sculpture adds another element to the area’s story that people, young and old alike, can learn about and feel part of. I would also like to thank everyone involved in delivering this element of the project and bringing another part of the story to life.”
“Now we’re able to travel a bit further afield I would encourage people to visit the Wall, learn more about it’s exciting history and transport themselves back to Roman times.”
Patricia Weeks, Antonine Wall World Heritage Site Co-ordinator at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “These installations are a modern response to this ancient site, something that was designed to capture the imagination of locals and visitors alike. They offer a wonderful surprise to those who weren’t expecting them while others are beginning to actively seek them out and head to Croy Hill and other nearby parts of the Antonine Wall to learn more, which is just what we were hoping for.”
Martin Rogan, Lecturer in Construction at City of Glasgow College, said: “Five of our stonemasonry apprentices took on this project on top of their regular course work. It’s been an incredibly valuable experience for them, and an excellent example of the important working partnerships our College maintains with industry, in order to provide our students with opportunities to work on real life projects. I know our apprentices are very proud to have been involved in the Rediscovering the Antonine Wall project which is creating a historical legacy for future generations.”
The scheme has been designed by Land Use Consultants and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Kelvin Valley & Falkirk LEADER.