These altars were discovered near Auchendavy by "navvies" during the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1771.
East Dunbartonshire is rich in Roman history. The Antonine Wall and the Roman Bathhouse in Bearsden are two of the most important survivals. The best evidence of the wall can be seen at New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Bearsden, where the stone base is clearly visible. The ditch to the north of the rampart can be seen to best effect at Bar Hill, Twechar
The Romans and the Antonine Wall
The 60 km Antonine Wall was designed as a continuous barrier across central Scotland, from the Forth near Bo'ness to the Clyde at Old Kilpatrick. It was constructed from about AD 142 onwards, over several years, by legionaries from the three British Legions - II Augusta, VI Victrix and XX Valeria Victrix.
The Construction of the Antonine Wall
The wall was made of cut turf piled in layers on top of a solid base of stones, along the front and back of which were laid kerbs of squared stone. A short distance in front of the wall a deep v-profile ditch was dug as an extra fortification. A road, known as the Military Way, was constructed behind the wall for transporting goods and maintaining sound military communications.
The Roman fort at Cadder, near Bishopbriggs, was on a site now skirted by a bend in the Forth and Clyde Canal. It was a medium sized fort which could have accommodated up to 500 troops. Many objects and artefacts were found here, including inscribed building stones, altars and pottery. A Roman stone can be seen at the club-house of Cadder Golf Course nearby.
The name Kirkintilloch is derived from the Celtic 'Caerpentaloch' meaning fort at the head of the hillock. This refers to the Roman fort in the vicinity of what is known nowadays as the Peel Park. The site of this fort is located where the B8023 road between Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth (via Twechar Bridge) passes close to Auchendavy Farmhouse. The fort was partly destroyed during the building of the Forth and Clyde Canal. While digging the canal in 1771 a group of five altars was found. These were dedicated to a total of eleven gods, including "the spirit that watches over Britain.
The fort at Bar Hill was built at one of the highest points on the wall to give the best view possible. Unusually, it was detached from the wall, with the Military Way passing between the fort and the wall. It covered just over three acres and the outlines of the headquarters building and bath house can still be seen. The well, from which a remarkable collection of objects were recovered (including stone columns, coins, building stones, iron weapons and tools) is also visible.
In Bearsden, the remains of a Roman bathhouse (adjacent to the site of the Antonine Wall fort) can be seen on the north side of Roman Road, a short distance east of Bearsden Cross. Two stretches of the Antonine Wall stone base can be found in New Kilpatrick Cemetery, Boclair Road.
The Antonine Wall was inscribed by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Canada in July 2008 as the United Kingdom's newest World Heritage Site. Further information can be found on the Antonine Wall dedicated website.