THE Antonine Wall has been accorded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO – putting it in the same league of importance as the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, Hadrian's Wall, and Stonehenge.
The decision was announced at UNESCO's world heritage committee's meeting in Quebec on Monday.
The bid was submitted by the UK government in January and was supported by the Scottish government five local authorities, including North Lanarkshire, through which the 37-mile wall runs.
The wall becomes Scotland's fifth UNESCO World Heritage site along with New Lanark, Edinburgh's Old and New Towns, The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, and St Kilda.
It was built in AD 142 under the orders of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius following the Roman army's campaigns in Scotland, and it runs from Bo'ness on the Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde. It was made up of 12-foot high turf ramparts on a stone base, fronted by a deep wide ditch. About two thirds of it has survived. In this area there are remains of forts in Croy and Twechar, and there are well-preserved stretches in the Falkirk/Bonnybridge areas and at Bearsden. For a generation it formed the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire and the bid for World Heritage status was part of a joint effort with three European countries to mark the frontiers of that empire.
Scottish culture minister Linda Fabiani said: "I'm delighted the Antonine Wall and its archaeological and historical significance has been recognised by the World Heritage Committee.
"The decision reinforces the Antonine Wall's international status which is thoroughly deserved. The Antonine Wall represents an incredible part of Scotland's history. It's inscription as Scotland's fifth World Heritage site – the highest accolade of a nation's heritage – should be celebrated by everyone."
MP Rosemary McKenna commented: "I am absolutely delighted. This has been the result of the tremendous amount of hard work on the part of the five councils involved, along with the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport in London. I have been involved with them in persuading the government that this should be a World Heritage site and in persuading UNESCO that this went ahead."
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP Cathie Craigie said: "I am absolutely delighted. This is great news for Kilsyth and the surrounding area. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to gain this recognition."
John McColl, chairman of Croy Community Council, said: "This is tremendous news for the whole district and should lead to many more visitors to the area. Even before this announcement was made we could already see the difference the investment at Auchinstarry has made. This will add to that."
SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn also hailed the decision as "fantastic news" and has lodged a congratulatory motion at the Parliament.