In this article, Gillian Barrie of the Central Scotland Forest Trust tells us about the Access to the Antonine Wall project. The Antonine Wall is one of five current World Heritage Sites in Scotland.
In 2008, the Antonine Wall was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and now forms part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, which includes Hadrian's Wall in England and the German Limes.
When this status was awarded, it increased the profile of the wall and raised expectations at a local level, amongst local communities, stakeholders and agencies, about what it could mean in terms of attracting visitors to the area and the potential economic benefits that this could have.
While recognising the potential opportunities that this status could bring however, there are currently considerable limitations in terms of accessing the Wall in both physical and intellectual terms. For example, if you want to go to the Wall, what are the best bits to visit, how do you get there, what barriers exist to accessing it? Also, where can you find out about the Wall, what resources are available to learn about it?
These issues are largely as a result of the nature and condition of the Wall, as it is not a continuous feature in the landscape and in many places the setting is degraded and has been impacted upon by inappropriate development.
A number of partners therefore felt that it was worth exploring the nature and extent of these barriers to access at a local level and to consider how these might be overcome. A pilot project was therefore proposed which would:
Consider what barriers and opportunities to accessing it there actually were
The project took place along stretch of the Antonine Wall between Croy and Twechar.
The project received funding from Kelvin Valley LEADER, East Dunbartonshire Council's Community Grant Scheme, as well as contributions from partners including CSFT, North Lanarkshire Council and Historic Scotland.
The different partners that were involved in taking forward this project brought a breath of expertise and knowledge to the project, so we had most of the help and advice we needed around the table throughout the project. By engaging with the local community we were also able to add a local dimension, which further helped with project delivery.
The celebratory event which was the culmination of the engagement process was a real success (helped by great weather!) as it was led by the community and showed their desire to celebrate and promote the Antonine Wall at a local level.
The asset map that was created through the engagement process is a great legacy from the project. It captures information on the best routes up to and around the Wall and captures information on all of the other local assets, as identified by the local community.
The biggest challenge was to encourage local residents and communities to participate in the process and to tell us how they accessed and enjoyed the Wall. Communities are increasingly being asked to engage with local policy and decision making and agencies and stakeholders could be accused of "over-consultation". As such, making participating as easy as possible was important.
Ensure that you have a good steering group set up, with all the relevant partners and stakeholders participating, coupled with buy-in from the local community.
We hope that the various partners and stakeholders active in the local area, will work in partnership with the community to take forward the priorities identified.
A copy of the final report and recommendations can be found at www.csft.org.uk. For a copy of the interactive PDF of the asset map, please contact Gillian Barrie directly.
Gillian Barrie (CSFT)
TEL: 01501 824 793