Rough Castle, Falkirk

Discover the Antonine Wall – the Romans’ last attempt to conquer Scotland

Published: December 6th, 2012 at 1:58 pm


Roman ambition knew no bounds. In around AD142, some 20 years after the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall was erected across central Scotland in a bid to take the north.

But, despite having created one of the largest empires ever seen, the Romans were stymied in their attempts to advance. They faced unrelenting attacks from the Picts, who harried the 37-mile long wall. A visit to the fort at Rough Castle, now woodland-edged, will transport you to that era.

A A triumph of engineering

Start from the futuristic-looking Falkirk Wheel, Britain’s only boatlift. Follow the sign at the back of the visitor centre for the Union Canal. Halfway up the hill, branch right to pass under the canal aqueduct that meets with the wheel. Take the second right to follow a gravel path into the Rough Castle Community Woodland.

Continue on the gravel path straight ahead, signed ‘Roman Fort’, ignoring any turn offs to later merge with another gravel path that runs right, by a railway fence. Walk on to follow a sign for the fort.

B Rough Castle Roman fort

This leads to a steep grassy slope – the southern edge of the Rough Castle fort.
Bear right to explore. The Rough Castle fort occupies around half a hectare, and would have been home to 500 soldiers tasked with defending their section of the earthen-built Antonine Wall. The rampart and ditches can be followed round the fort, and ruins of once important buildings are clearly visible. Also in evidence are some nasty defensive pits, which troops would fill with pointed stakes and camouflage over.

Bridges lead across a burn to a very well preserved section of the wall. Continue west, past a car park, and along the road. As you near Bonnybridge, take a shortcut on the right under the Forth & Clyde Canal. Turn right and keep straight on at a roundabout. Then branch right for the signed towpath.

C Forth & Clyde Canal

From here, simply follow the canal left for a return to the Falkirk Wheel, reached via a footbridge (open during daylight hours).

This wooded stretch makes a lovely finish to the walk on a summer’s day.

Useful Information


From Edinburgh, take the M9 west for Stirling. Exit at Junction 8 and follow signs for Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is accessible by bus from either Falkirk Grahamston or Falkirk
High Station.


Visit Scotland

0845 859 1006


Alder’s Traditional
Tea Room

30 Cow Wynd, Falkirk


01324 639625

Enjoy home baking and a friendly buzz at this long-established tea room.


Macdonald Inchyra
Hotel and Spa

Grange Road, Falkirk


0844 879 9044

Extensive estate grounds and spa treatments ensure a luxurious stay.


Blackness Castle

Blackness, West Lothian

EH49 7NH

01506 834 807


This imposing 15th-century fortress overlooks the
River Forth.



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