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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Military road south of CorgarffMilitary Roads

For maps of the Military Roads see NLS


Military Roads and Fortifications in the Highlands with bridges and milestones, Thomas Wallace, PSAS, Vol 45, (1910-1911), pps 318-333

An account of the Military Roads built after the Rising of 1715 to allow more effective control of the Highlands. Prior to that time there were only rough tracks, if any at all, that made access to many areas very difficult. Details of all the new roads and bridges are given as well as of the forts built at the same time.


The Military Road from Braemar to the Spittal of Glen Shee, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol.97, (1963-64), pps 226-236

The author traces the course of this road, built about 1750, and provides detailed descriptions of those sections that still remain, along with historical details of its construction. Bridges on the route are also described.


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 Military Roads in Scotland, William Taylor, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1976

This work gives a complete account of the Military Roads built in the Highland and South-West of Scotland by Wade and Caulfield between 1725 and 1767 as a response to the threat of Jacobite unrest in the Highlands and, in the case of south-west Scotland, to facilitate movement of troops to Ireland. The author describes each of the roads giving details of their financing, how they were constructed and difficulties that were encountered. A section of the book describes what can be seen of the roads today.


The Military Road.To Portpatrick, 1763, Arnott, M.C., DGNHAS III 28 120

This paper examines correspondence of Major William Rickman relating to the construction of the Military Road in 1763. The letters cover issues such as how work parties were organised, work rates expected of the men, the progress they were making and construction difficulties. It is clear that lengthy and troublesome negotiations had to be carried out wirth some landowners about the course of the road, and he was often approached to change the course of the road to suit local interests. He complains about difficulties with the Treasury on financing. The section of the road constructed during the period of the letters was from the Tarff through Gatehouse of Fleet to Newton Stewart.


Some Notes on the Old Military Road in Dumfries and Galloway, Anderson, A.D., DGNHAS III 72 79

The author identifies what remains of the road at various locations on its route, using various sources of evidence. He provides a list of sections that have either been obliterated or not yet identified.


A Walker's Companion to the Wade Roads, Joan and Arthur Baker, Perth: The Melven Press, 1982
After describing what the Highlands were like prior to road building, the authors explain the historical background to the Jacobite unrest and how Wade was appointed to prepare a report on the state of the Highlands and recommend what should be done.
As part of an overall military strategy for controlling the Highlands, he recognised the need for the provision of roads and bridges, specifically the linking of Fort William, Fort Augustus and Fort George (this was in Inverness and not the present Fort George which was built later) and Ruthven Barracks and to link these to the road system of the Lowlands.
This led to the building of the Great Glen Road linking the forts, the Dunkeld to Inverness road which continued the Edinburgh - Perth - Dunkeld road, the Crieff to Dalnacardoch road which continued the Glasgow - Stirling - Crieff road through Aberfeldy to Dalnacardoch where it joined the Dunkeld - Inverness road, the Dalwhinnie to Fort Augustus road and a link road between the Dalwhinnie - Fort Augustus road and the Dunkeld - Inverness road.

They describe how the roads were built and then provide detailed descriptions of the routes followed by each road and what can be seen today.


The Loch Lomondside Military Road, James Chirrey, Dumbarton District Libraries, 1984

Wade in Scotland, Edinburgh and London, J B Salmond, The Moray Press, 1934


Routes, Roads, Regiments and Rebellions : A Brief History of the Life and Work of General George Wade (1673-1748) the Father of the Military Roads in Scotland, Colin McCall, Amolibros (SOLCOL), 2003


Walking the Scottish Highlands: General Wade's Military Roads, Michael Pollard & Tom Ang, Andre Deutsch, London, 1984


Highland Highways: Old Roads in Atholl, John Kerr, John Donald, Edinburgh 1991


An 18th century military road in the Scottish Highlands and 3 of its bridges (Scottish History Online website)
Details of a project to preserve three bridges on a stretch of military road near Corgarff.

'Constructing the Military Landscape: Board of Ordnance Maps and Plans of Scotland 1689 to 1815', Carolyn J. Anderson.
Comprehensive study with many details of the military roads.