Celebrating Bo'ness Roman relic as part of week-long festival

It has been dubbed one of Britain’s best Roman relics, it’s featured on a Royal mail stamp and it inspired an amazing replica – which takes pride of place in Bo’ness.

Now the Bridgeness Slab is being celebrated during the area’s Big Roman Week festival, which kicks off later this month. A film about the famous Roman slab – or tablet – is being shown in the town’s library. Also scheduled is a talk about the rich colours used to paint the Bridgeness sculpture, and other installations along the Antonine Wall. There will also be a weekend walk to the Bridgeness Slab and other Roman sites around Bo’ness.

Madelene Hunt, the chair of Bo’ness Community Council, said: “Ten years ago we unveiled an impressive replica, close to where the original sculpture was found in Bo’ness. It’s seems an appropriate time to look back on the project and also reflect on what’s happened during the past decade. For instance, the Bo’ness replica has now inspired other Roman sculptures right along the Antonine Wall.

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“We’ve also seen the Royal Mail celebrate the Bridgeness Slab in 2020. And, in In recent months, we’ve seen a new display board installed on the Bo’ness foreshore, tempting walkers on the John Muir Way to explore our Roman sites.”

The Bridgeness Slab replica is situated off Harbour Road, Bo’ness.

The slab has a central panel in Latin, marking the completion of part of the Wall and honouring the Emperor Antoninus Pius. It also features a Roman cavalryman attacking local tribes – and Romans (in togas) getting ready to make a sacrifice to the gods.

Madelene added: “When the original slab was found in Bo’ness in the 1860s, it was quickly given to a museum in Edinburgh.

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“For some people in the town, it’s a bit like the Elgin Marbles. We would love to have the original Roman slab back. Sadly, that won’t be happening. Therefore an exact replica was the next best thing. And this is a wonderful piece to look at.”

The film about the the slab ‘The Mark of Rome’ is being shown in Bo'ness Library on Wednesday, September 21, at 2.30pm. The library will also host a talk on the sculpture on Thursday, September 22, at 7.30pm. The Roman walk will leave outside Kinneil Museum on Sunday, September 25, at 1.30pm.

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The Bridgeness Slab was featured in a series entitled Roman Britain, issued by the Royal Mail in 2020.

No need to book, just turn up. The free events are part of the Big Roman festival.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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The Community Council worked with Falkirk Council, Falkirk Environment Trust and partners to install the £70,000 replica off Harbour Road. The site also includes information panels about the Antonine Wall and the surrounding area.

“Whilst the Romans used fairly basic implements to carve out the original Bridgeness Slab, the replica was made using hi-tech tools,” said Mrs Hunt.

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“The original was scanned using lasers and then a new slab cut in sandstone using computer-controlled milling equipment. The final piece was hand-finished by craftsmen.

“The final result was an extremely accurate copy of the Bridgeness Slab – revealing details not easily seen on the Roman original.”