In the barony of Seabegs near the canal, there is an artificial mound of earth where courts and deliberative councils were formerly held, as appears by the name Mote, which the place yet retains. There is also a small burying ground where formerly there was a Roman Catholic chapel.
In different parts of the neighbourhood there have been dug up urns, filled up with ashes, and stone coffins containing human bones. Somewhat more than twenty years ago there was found in the hollow of a freestone quarry near Castlcary, some wheat which had become black, and was supposed to have been there, from the time ~that the Romans possessed that station.
The small river Bonney,which separates a part of this parish from Denny and Dunipace seems to be the Cronan of Ossian.
Old Camelon,1 not Camelodunum but probably Bede's Guidi, appears to have been formerly a place of consequence. There are now few vestiges of it remaining; but not long ago, foundations of houses, and the direction of some of the streets were visible. Much has been said about the importance which it once had; we have heard of the riches and ornaments of royalty which were found here, when it was taken by the Romans But we have no authentic documents by which we can decide whether it was a habitation of stone of some of the ancient tribes of North Britain, or whether it was only a Roman station.
It was also reported, that Camelon was a seaport town; and in confirmation of this we are told that an anchor was formerly dug up2 in the ground near it. There are circumstances which authorise us to conclude, not only that the river Carron has been navigable farther up than the place where Camelon stood, but also that the sea came very near Falkirk, and covered the whole of that district which is now called the Carse. The name Carse in Scotland is generally applied to that land which has been formed by the retreat or exclusion of the sea. Our carse lands are very little raised above the level of the frith of Forth, and in many places are defended by its banks.,3 The carse which is very valuable inquality, might easily be enlarged by encroaching farther on the sea. Lord Dundas, by this method, has lately added 70 acres to his estate. About the beginning of this century, a Dutchman who was well aquainted with operations like those in Holland, proposed to the Duke of Hamilton to gain for him 2000 acres off the sea, adjoining his estate of Kinneal in the parish of Borrowstounness, provided he should be allowed to possess it rent free for forty years and be furnished with timber, etc., from the Duke's wood in the neighbourhood. The proposal was rejected; and the sea continues to roll its tides over those shallows, where fruitful field might now have been yielding an annual income of L.4000 or L.5000 to the proprietor, and a considerable quantity of provisions for the supply of this populous part of the country.
But the most prominent feature of antiquity in this parish is the Roman wall, built in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, under the direction of Lieutenant Lollius Urbicus. It in general follows the track where Agricola had previously erected a chain of forts. It is more than 1600 years since the wall was built and yet in several parts, both in this parish and elsewhere, its form and course are visible. It extends from the frith of Forth to the river Clyde, and was about 40 Roman, or 37 English miles in length. Carriden, Kinneal, and Blackness on the East, Dumglas and Old Kilpatrick on the west have been by different people, been suggested as its boundaries. Bede says, thta it began two miles from the monastary of Abercorn, and ended at Alduith, which appears to be the same place which is now called Dumbarton.4 If the wall terminated at Old Kilpatrick, Dumbarton was probably afort belonging to the Romans and we know, that on the east coast their forts and stations were carried far beyond the end of the wall.5
This wall, or rather defensive work, consisted of a ditch on the north, and a wall on the south. It varies as to the breadth of the ditch; but it is never less than 12 or 15 feet wide and the wall was about 12 feet thick at the foundation.6 The ditch was deep in proportion to its breadth; and the wall was high in proportion to its width. Notwith standing what has been said by some authors, no part of this wall appears to have been built of stone except in swampy places, where the nature of the ground required it. Forts or stations and between these, turrets or watch towers, were erected for the accom modation of soldiers to defend it;and as they were at no great distance from one another, a general alarm could be given at the approach of danger. Hence the vulgar belief
that the wall was hollow, and that the sound of a trumpet which was blown at one end could be heard at the other. Castlecary, Roughcastle, and Camelon, were the most remarkable forts or stations in the neighbourhood. The site of the two former are still to be seen.
Much light has beeb thrown on the history ofthe wall by stones and inscriptions, which have been dug up in various parts of it. A considerable number of these stones are in the College of Glasgow etc., one in Sir John Clerk's collection and one in Callandar House, with the following inscription:-
From these different stones it appears, that the wall was chiefly made by the 2nd and 20th legions, and the vexillations of the 6th and 20th, together with a cohort of auxiliaries.7 Every 100th part of a legion was called a century, and had a vexillum or pair of colours. To guard these, ten of the best soldiers were alloted for each vexillum, and these guards, which in every legion amounted to 1000 men, were called its vexillation.
This rampart is denominated by Buchanan, in his "History of Scotland," the Wall of Severus. Other writers have also given it the same name; but though it may have been repaired by Severus, as it was by different people, yet the wall which he built was not in this district of the country, but was drawn between the Solway Frith and Newcastle, nearly in the same direction in which Adrian had formerly built his.
The wall of Antoninus is generally known in this country by the name of Graham's Dike. Some are of the opinion that it derived this name from apowerful leader of that name who broke through this famous line of defence and routed the Britons, on the south side of it, who were then abandoned by the Romans Others affirm that in the reign of Malcolm II. one Gryme, who was connected with the royal family, aspiring to the throne, drew together some followers, and, in order to settle the commotion, the Pretender gotagrant for the term of his life of all that part of Malcolm's kingdom which was on the north side of the wall, and the line of separation was from this event called Gryme's Dike. It has also been suggested that as the building of this wall has also been attributed to Severus, so by translating Severus into English you have Grim; and in a country where the surname of Graham is so common as it is here, it was very natural to find the appellation Grim's Wall converted into Graham's Dyke.8 The name itself is of little consequence, but the wall itself is a striking monument of Roman activity.
The soldiers of the Roman Empire were not allowed to become enervated by idleness. They were constantly employed, and often engaghed in severe manual labour. Not only the walls which have been taken notice of, but also the various roads which they made in Great Britain are clear proofs that theywere called forth to exertion, and kept an active life. Along the south side of Graham's Dyke a causeway was formed for the more expeditious and comfortable travelling of the soldiers from one part to another.
Nearly opposite to Callendar House, an earthen wall of considerable height and thickness branches off from Graham's Dyke, runs through Westquarter House garden, and reaches the old Castle of Almond. From that towards the east there are few or no certain traces of it to be seen; but we may presume that it once ended at Linlithgow, where there was a Roman camp on the very place where the King's palace was afterwards built. This wall was no fosse, and, being broad at the top, was probably intended to be a road as well as a line of defence.
1. A new village in its neighbourhood is called Camelon
2. Sibbald's Historical Enquiries, chap. 7
3 A few days ago, in the morning of October 30, a tide being uncommonly high, the banks were overflowed by the sea, and the water not only entered many houses, but inundated several hindred acres of the Carse land.
4. Camden's Britannia, by Gough, article Lennox.
5. Sibbald's Enquiries.
6. The ditch in Callendar park is above 40 feet wide; in some other places it is not so much by half.
7. Henry's ' History of Great Britain"
8. Dyke in the Scotch language meams wall.