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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Turnpike Roads

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 Public Roads and Bridges in Dumfriesshire 1650 - 1820, James Robertson, G.C. Book Publishers, Wigton, 1993

This is a valuable resource as it makes the original text of the Minutes of the Commissioners of Supply and other records readily available to readers. After an introductory overview of the history of early roads in Dumfriesshire, extracts and summaries of the Minutes that deal with roads and bridges, along with commentary, are given. These allow a detailed insight into the development of the road system in Dumfries-shire along with the associated bridges. The book is illustrated with photos of bridges and contains a county map of 1807 showing all the main roads.


Development of the Road System in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. 1580-1890 Part I Anderson, A.D.,DGNHAS III 44 205

This paper, and the one immediately below, form a comprehensive study of the road system in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. In the first paper, the author looks first at the maps of Timothy Pont which show bridges and placenames indicative of a road or route. He then looks at various sources including a petition of 1642 by Post Masters that outlines the route to Portpatrick, Symson's Large Description of Galloway, burgh and church records and the records of the Commissioners of Supply to reconstruct the road system in the 1600's and around 1750. The turnpike acts and their associated roads are described up till 1890 when the County Council took over responsibility for roads.


Development of the Road System in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. 1580-1890 Part II Anderson, A.D., DGNHAS III 45 211

In the second paper, the author looks in detail at a number of important historical routes. These are Dumfries to Minigaff or Newton-Stewart; from Newton-Stewart to New-Galloway and beyond (the Old Edinburgh Road); from Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas to Ayrshire; Kirkcudbright to Gatehouse; and Kirkcudbright to Dumfries via Buittle or Dalbeattie.

Minutes of the Road Trustees of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright : A Classified Summary, compiled by Alex. D Anderson.
Copies deposited in the Archive Centre and Ewart Library, Dumfries and in the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.


Summary of Items relating to Roads in the Minutes of the Commissioners of Supply of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, compiled by Alex. D Anderson

Copies deposited in the Archive Centre and Ewart Library, Dumfries and in the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.


New Ways through the Glens, A.R.B. Haldane, Nelson, 1962


David McClure, Tolls and Tacksmen, Ayrshire Monographs No.13, AANHS, 1994


Wanlockhead Roads - Minutes of Fourth (Upper Nithsdale) District Turnpike Road Trustees 5/8/1789 to abolition of tolls, Robertson, J., DGNHAS III 54 161

The author discusses a number of items from the Minutes including the siting of tollbars on the proposed turnpike by Sanquhar and Muirkirk to Glasgow, exemption from tolls for the Wanlockhead mines if they maintained a road and difficulties tacksmen had in paying the rent if toll income was low.

The Carlisle to Glasgow Road, Miller, N. and Miller M., III 65 100

The authors detail the history of this road under the turnpike trusts. As an important national route £50,000 was made available under the Highland Roads and Bridges Commission for improvements and repairs. Telford was the engineer.

He rerouted the old road away from Longtown and built the "Metal Bridge" making for a shorter route. The turnpikes retained some sections and the rest was repaired by the Commissioners, who for administrative purposes had control of the whole road. Details of toll houses are provided.


Improvement to the Glasgow-Carlisle Road. 1815, Miller, N. and Miller M., III 67 67

Details are given of the design and construction of the bridge by Thomas Telford which had been built as an essential improvement to the Glasgow to Carlisle turnpike.

The bridge was opened in 1819 and closed in 1911 because of extensive corrosion. It was replaced by a reinforced concrete bridge in 1916.

Interesting details are given of difficulties with the Royal Mail, a dispute with a local landowner and severe flood damage.


The construction of Aberdeenshire's first turnpike roads, Thomas Day, Journal of Transport History, Sep 2003

(article page numbers are at foot of web page)


Roads and bridges in the Scottish Highlands: the route between Dunkeld and Inverness, 1725 -1925, G R Curtis, PSAS, Vol 110, (1978-80), pps 475-96

This paper examines the roads and bridges constructed in the Highlands by the Military authorities (the Wade and Caulfield roads), the Parliamentary Commission for Highland Roads and Bridges, and the Ministry of Transport in its early days. Details of how the roads were constructed in each period are given based on excavations undertaken prior to the A9 Trunk Road reconstruction, as well as descriptions of bridges in each period.


The Life of Thomas Telford by Samuel Smiles, London, 1867