Review – The Antonine Wall: papers in honour of Professor Lawrence Keppie

3 mins read

David J Breeze and William S Hanson (eds)
Archaeopress, £30
ISBN 978-1789694505
Review Andrew Tibbs

Undoubtedly, Professor Lawrence Keppie has made some of the most significant contributions to our understanding of the Antonine Wall, as well as to the rest of Scotland during the Roman period. It is therefore fitting that this volume has been produced to honour his work.

This book contains 31 papers and gives an update on current research and understandings of the Roman Wall. Appropriately, it begins with an insight into the life and achievements of Keppie, and what has motivated him to study Scotland’s Roman Wall. This is followed by a summary of current knowledge and thinking relating to the Antonine Wall, which is particularly useful given the recent application of new analytical techniques that are shaping our interpretation.

Other papers include a new summary, the first in 15 years, of the environment at the time of the Wall’s construction, and a discussion of the impact of the Wall on the Iron Age population living around it. Several papers look at the planning and construction of the Wall, including a summary of the Hidden Landscapes of a Roman Frontier project, which has analysed laser scans of the Wall and its fortifications, leading to several new insights.

This is a diverse volume that explores many different areas of research, such as the evidence for women in lowland Scotland, an area of study that has received little previous attention. There are also comparisons between fortlets on the Antonine Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, and the Upper German frontier; updates on the current thinking about the strength of the army occupying the Wall; and a new study into pottery and cereal supplies to the frontier. However, it is the penultimate paper that reminds the reader of one of the most significant achievements in recent years, securing World Heritage Site status for the Antonine Wall, along with the impact and influence this has had on communities living alongside this monument.

David Breeze and Bill Hanson have done an excellent job in bringing together a range of papers on what is a fascinating and important area of Roman research. It is a fine tribute to the career and scholarship of a remarkable individual.

This review appeared in CA 365. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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