Home > Resources > Mediaeval Roads












Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Mediaeval Roads

Itinerary of King Edward the First throughout his reign, Henry Gough, Volume II
A record of Edward's movements during his expeditions in Scotland that contains many clues to the network of roads in Scotland at that time. See page 82 and following for itinerary and pages 277-288 for maps of each expedition with explanatory text.


A contemporary account of the Earl of Hertford's second expedition to Scotland, and of the Ravages committed by the English Forces in September 1545, David Laing, PSAS, Vol 1, (1851-54) pps 271-81

This campaign had been ordered by Henry VIII who wanted to unite the two kingdoms by forcing the Scots to accept the marriage of his son Edward to the infant Princess Mary. Leaving aside the destruction caused by the campaign, the account is useful for its itinerary from which some idea of routes in the Borders can be obtained.


Note on the Antiquity of the Wheel Causeway, Haverfield, F, PSAS, Vol. 34 (1899-1900), 129-30

A short paper that lists references to the Wheel Causeway showing that it was in use in the Middle Ages.


The Ancient Bridges in Scotland, and their relation to the Roman and Mediaeval bridges in Europe, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol 46 (1911-12), pp 151-177

The author identifies nine periods of bridge construction: Roman; pre and post Reformation; "Collection" bridges; local, shire and military; and three consecutive phases of turnpike bridges. He notes that after the time of the Romans nothing seems to have been built until the early Middle Ages. The earliest bridges in Scotland were of wood, and were constructed from the 13th century onwards. Stone bridges began to appear around 1500, as was the case elsewhere in Europe.


Fords, Ferries, Floats and Bridges near Lanark, Thomas Reid, PSAS, Vol 47, (1912-13), pps 209-256

The author details all the crossings on the River Cyde from near Abington to Crossford, below Lanark, as well as on the Mouse which runs into the Clyde at Lanark. As well as giving the history of the crossings, he details the associated routes, some of considerable antiquity.


The Roads and Bridges in the Early History of Scotland, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol 47, (1912-13), pp303-33

This is a very useful account of roads and bridges up to the 16th century. Topics covered are references in early literature; references in contemporary documents including early mentions of placenames like Bridgend; the comparative chronology of bridges focussing on structural details as indicators of age; the history of the main Pre-Reformation bridges; and roads and bridges in the Pre-Reformation period.


The Most Ancient Bridges in Britain, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol.49, (1914-15), pps 256-74

This is similar to the above paper but covers England and Ireland as well as Scotland.


The Roads that led to Edinburgh etc, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol. 50, (1915-16), pps 18-49

The author examines the map and charter evidence for some early roads to Edinburgh, viz. Dere Street, Berwick, Roxburgh and Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk, Peebles, Biggar, Lanark, Hamilton and Glasgow. He provides many interesting insights, not least that Dere Street (and other Roman roads) may be native routes adopted by the Romans.


Ancient Border Highways: The Minchmoor (Catrail) Road, the Wheel Causeway, the Annandale Forest Road, the Well Path, and the Enterkin, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol. 58 (1923-24), pps 203-23

The author provides detailed information on each of these roads, much of it obtained by examining them on the ground. This helped to clarify their original purpose and correct misleading or erroneous conclusions based on the examination of (sometimes) incorrect maps. Particular points of interest are that the Minchmoor road was on the only east-west route and showed very early defensive works so was at least a potential invasion route in the Dark Ages. In the Middle Ages it may have been part of the route between Kelso Abbey and its Priory at Lesmahagow. He examines the Wheel Causeway and concludes that it was wrongly shown on the OS maps and identifies the correct route which was probably that between Carlisle and Berwick. He analyses the complicated network of routes north of Moffat and argues that the main Roman route to the Clyde was not by the road running to Crawford but rather by a more direct line to the Tweed and Broughton. Details are given of the Well Path which is part of the very old route between Edinburgh and Whithorn. He argues that the Enterkin route (Leadhills towards Thornhill), although important at a later date, may have originated in the need to transport lead to Dumfries.


Quarry to Abbey: an Ancient Fife Route, R Fyfe Smith and Rev. Norman M Johnston. PSAS, Vol 83 (1948-49), pps 162-167

The abbey in question is Balmerino, situated on the south side of the Tay opposite Dundee. In its charter mention is made of a right of way granted in the early 1200's to allow the monks to transport building stones from a quarry at Strathkinness, 3 miles west of St Andrews. The authors trace the likely course of the route, which was 8 miles in length, and identify segments that still remain.


An Old Road in the Lammermuirs, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol 83, (1948-49), pps 198-206

An account of a route running across the Lammermuirs from Long Yester (2 miles south of Gifford) to the valley of the Leader Water just abovbe Lauder. It may have been part of a longer route between Haddington and Lauder and probably originated in mediaeval times.


More Old Roads in the Lammermuirs, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol. 93 (1959-60), pps 217-35

This follows on from his paper listed above and examines a network of old routes across the Lammermuirs. The routes are Haddington to Duns, by Longformacus; Haddington to the Whiteadder Water; Dunbar to the Dye Water (west of Longformacus) and beyond; the Herring Road from Dumbar to Lauder; Whiteadder Water to the Dye Water; and the Military Survey's "Muir Road from Lauder to Dunbar". The routes were used for droving to England as well as for taking animals and farm produce to local markets. One or two of the routes may be mediaeval in origin.


Archaeology on a Great Post Road, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol. 96 (1962-63), pps 318-47

This paper examines the route/s taken by the road between Berwick and Edinburgh since early mediaeval times. Although it is very close to the line of the A1 (before recent improvements) from Edinburgh to Cockburnspath, the route south of here was by the A1107 as far as Huxton and then by minor roads through Ayton to rejoin the A1 just north of Berwick. The difficulties encountered by travellers at Ayton and Cockburnspath are detailed, as are changes made in the turnpike era. Interesting details of old bridges on the route are provided, as well as details of milestones.


The Scottish Itinerary of Mary Queen of Scots, 1542-8 and 1561-8, Edward M Furgol, PSAS, Vol.117, (1987), pps 219-231

A detailed discussion of the journeys undertaken by Mary Queen of Scots throughout Scotland. The microfiche provides full itineraries.


"Here Chapman Billies Tak Their Stand": a pilot study of Scottish chapmen, packsmen and peddlars, Roger Leitch, PSAS, Vol 120 (1990), pp 173-188

This is a comprehensive account of chapmen, itinerant vendors who travelled the countryside with goods that were often difficult to obtain otherwise. The paper contains interesting details of the routes they followed and the dangers they faced on their journeys.


The following author has numerous papers in the PSAS on castles in Scotland, mostly in the north-east. The papers selected below contain some reference to the siting of a castle in relation to early routes. The most comprehensive treatment of routes is in

"The Early Castles of Mar", Vol 63, "Corgarff Castle", Vol 61 and "Edzell Castle", Vol 65.


Simpson, W Douglas Note on Recent Excavations at Kildrummy Castle.Vol 54 (1919-1920) 134-45

Simpson, W Douglas The Architectural History of Huntly Castle. Vol 56 (1921-22) 134-63

Simpson, W Douglas The Royal Castle of Kindrochit in Mar.Vol 57 (1922-23), 75-97

Simpson, W Douglas The Development of Balvenie Castle. PSAS Vol 60 (1925-26), 132-48

Simpson, W Douglas Corgarff Castle, Aberdeenshire. PSAS Vol 61 (1926-27), 48-103

Simpson, W Douglas The Early Castles of Mar. (First Paper.) PSAS, Vol 63 (1928-29), 102-38

Simpson, W Douglas Edzell Castle. PSAS, Vol 65 (1930-31),115-7

Simpson, W Douglas Invermark Castle. PSAS, Vol 68 (1933-34), 41-50

Simpson, W Douglas The Barony, Castle, and Church of Rothiemay.PSAS Vol 69 (1934-35), 223-46

Simpson, W Douglas Fyvie Castle PSAS Vol 73 (1938-39), 32-47

Simpson, W Douglas Cairnbulg Castle, Aberdeenshire PSAS Vol 83 (1948-49)32-44

Simpson, W Douglas Glenbervie and its castle PSAS Vol 105 (1972-74), 255-61


Annals of the Solway Until A.D. 1307, George Neilson, 1899

This is a detailed history of the Solway and surrounding country from Roman times to the death of Edward I on his last incursion into Scotland. It contains much interesting information about the fording points as well as references that will be found useful in reconstructing early routes. Some images of early maps are included.


The Causey Mounth: A mediaeval route between Stonehaven and Aberdeen




The Roads of Mediaeval Lauderdale, R.P.Hardie, Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1942


James P Wilson, The Monk's Road to their Lands, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series, Vol 1, 1950


Early Travellers in Scotland, Hume Brown, James Thin, Edinburgh, 1978


Barrow, G. W. S., 1984, 'Land Routes: The Medieval Evidence', in Loads and Roads in Scotland and Beyond, ed. A.Fenton & G.Stell, 49-66, Edinburgh 1984 (John Donald), [also in Barrow 1992, Scotland and its Neighbours in the Middle Ages (London), 201-16, entitled ‘Land Routes’].


Ted Ruddock, Bridges and Roads in Scotland:1400 - 1750, in Loads and Roads in Scotland and Beyond, ed. A.Fenton & G.Stell, Edinburgh 1984 (John Donald), 78-91

This paper is best read in conjunction with Inglis' three earlier papers (above) as it is to a large extent a re-examination of his findings in the light of new evidence and further inspections of the bridges. The focus is on the physical structure of the bridges with details given on types of foundation, on rubble arches, and some comment on the roads.