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Central Scotland - Millennium Wheels and Roman Walls.

Updated on February 9, 2017

Where Wheel and Wall meet

Extraordinary engineering: Millennium wheels and Roman walls at Falkirk, Central Scotland.

On the outskirts of the industrial town of Falkirk in central Scotland there are two most extraordinary and unique feats of engineering that stand within a few hundred yards of each other and yet are separated by almost 2 centuries of history; the Falkirk Millennium Wheel and the Roman Antonine Wall.

Where is Falkirk?

A markerFalkirk Wheel -
The Falkirk Wheel, Lime Road, Tamfourhill, Falkirk, Falkirk FK1 4RS, UK
get directions

The Falkirk Wheel - A giant boat hoist!

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat hoist designed to lift boats 79 feet from one canal,the Forth and Clyde Canal, via an aqueduct, a canal basin and two further locks to another, the Union Canal .

The 18th century saw Falkirk at the heart of the industrial revolution in central Scotland and at the forefront of new canal construction. The Forth and Clyde Canal was opened in 1790 to join the east coast to the west coast and in 1822 the Union Canal was built to complete a spur right into the centre of Edinburgh.

Where the two canals met at Falkirk a system of 11 locks was built for canal traffic to navigate the difference in height of 115 feet between the levels of the two waterways. This series of locks last used in 1902 fell into disrepair and were filled in by the early 1930s.

A regeneration programme to breathe new life into the canals and link the waterways once more for traffic and leisure activities resulted in the innovative design of the Falkirk Wheel. Opened in 2002 this towering structure is a focal point in a newly created canal basin and visitor centre where visitors can enjoy the experience of being hoisted by boat from one level to another or merely watch this feat of engineering in action.

With canal walks, boat trips, countryside walks and stunning views this really is a place for Wheels and Walls.

Great Engineering for a boat hoist- The Falkirk Wheel

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The Roman Wall

In 142AD the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius ordered the building of a wall from the Firth of Forth in the east to the River Clyde in the west in an attempt to extend and secure the northern boundaries of Empire beyond the existing Hadrian's Wall a hundred miles to the south.

The 'wall', which took 20 years to build, was actually built from layers of turf laid onto foundations of stone to a height of 13 feet. It stretched for a distance of 39 miles with a ditch and defensive pits on the north side and a military road to the south. Along the wall's length 19 forts were built, one every two miles interspersed with smaller 'fortlets'.The Antonine Wall was manned for only 20 years before the Romans retreated from Scotland and fell back to Hadrian's Wall.

The section of the wall at Falkirk, which includes Rough Castle Fort, one of the best preserved forts is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Antonine Roman Wall - The Falkirk Antonine Roman Wall

Antonine Wall Descriptive Plaque
Antonine Wall Descriptive Plaque

The Antonine Wall

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About the author

Antony was born in the small coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, and lived in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before returning to his native Yorkshire. He has spent his adult life in the north of England working for a UK Bank and two Government Agencies.

Now living in Yorkshire between the Dales and the Moors Antony enjoys writing and taking photographs. He has written and published two ebooks bringing together some of his short stories and humorous anecdotes, and been published in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

His interests include walking, photography, history, travel, reading and watching cricket.

Comments - have you ridden the Wheel or walked the Wall?

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