The Antonine Wall is the remains of imperial Rome’s north-west frontier in central Scotland and part of the multi-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the Wall has a lower popular profile than its counterparts in England and Germany, it has nevertheless been the object of significant study, with a research tradition that has resulted in a number of syntheses. These focus on its initial period of construction, functional operation, and abandonment, as well as the unique characteristics that make it “the most complex and highly developed of all frontiers constructed by the Roman army.”
This paper looks beyond the period and themes that have characterised the Wall’s research tradition, and situates it within recent discourse on the afterlife of frontiers: an agenda that has been particularly pursued for Hadrian’s Wall. It is argued that traditional research artificially elides time between the present of modern investigation and the past of the Roman period, leaving the intervening post-Roman centuries comparatively unexplored and absent from academic discourse and public presentations of contemporary significance. A new diachronic framework is proposed that accommodates both traditional Roman frontier concerns and emergent themes from new investigation of the Wall’s wider biography.