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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Drove Roads

The Drove Roads of Scotland, A. R.B. Haldane, David and Charles, 1973

This is a now classic study of drove roads and the droving trade. The author looks first at the origins of droving from the earliest times to its expansion after the Union of the Crowns in 1603 and of the Parliaments in 1707. He details the working life of a drover and how the trade was financed, then examines the roads in various parts of Scotland, including the south of Scotland. An account is given of cattle fairs, particularly the great Trysts at Crieff and Falkirk and some others like Dumfries which was an important centre for cattle from south-west Scotland and Ireland. He then looks at the movement of the cattle through England and the arrangements made for their fattening before finally reaching London and other cities. The growing trade in sheep is also examined. He traces the gradual decline of droving from the growing use of sea transport and later of rail transport, although droving itself remained in places as late as the early 1900's.


The Shielings and Drove Ways of Loch Lomondside, John Mitchell, Jamieson & Munro in assoc. with Stirling Council Library, 2000

The author gives the background to the movement of cattle up to the summer pastures on high ground where the women and children would live in shielings for several weeks. This practice, intended to fatten cattle and keep them away from growing crops lasted up to the late 1700's. He locates the remains of the shielings through placenames and fieldwork.

He then examines the droving routes in the area and gives the background to the trade from the 1500's to its decline in the early 1900's. The routes to Glasgow and across to Crieff and Falkirk are described in detail.


Drove Roads, John Reid, Calatria, No 22, Autumn 2005, Journal of the Falkirk Local History Society

This paper looks at the growth of drove roads in the Falkirk area from the early practice of summer grazing on high ground to the establishment of the major Trysts in Falkirk when these moved down from Crieff. Details are given of the four venues that were used at one time or another.

The various routes converging on Falkirk are described as are those leading southward, using evidence from maps, sasines, placenames and the location of common lands that were used both for summer pasture and rest points when droving.


The Drove Road into Annandale. Prevost, W.A.J., DGNHAS, III 31 121

The author gives the history of the cross-border trade in cattle which was documented from the early 1600's. The traffic from the south-west of Scotland and from Ireland passed through Dumfries-shire on its way to Carlisle, with additionally, some Highland droves coming from the north.

Although many of the northern droves took more easterly routes there was still a substantial number of cattle entering Dumfries-shire. He identifies and describes the complex network of the routes taken through the area and provides much interesting local detail.

MacDonald, Mairi A, 'Drovering' TGSI 49 (1974-76) 189-197
The paper details the difficulties faced by drovers and the qualities and skills needed to carry out droving successfully. Apart from physical stamina, the drover had to be a person of probity, had to have considerable veterinary knowledge and have good business acumen. There were definite dangers to be faced on the journey, from robbers to getting animals safely over water. A description is given of the main droving routes leading to Falkirk.

MacDonald Murdo, 'The Droving Trade in the Records of the Commissioners of Supply of Argyllshire' TGSI 58 (1992-94) 1-7
The Commissioners of Supply, along with JP's were responsible for roads, ferries and bridges from 1686 up to 1775 when the first local act for Argyleshire was passed.
The paper examines a number of issues relating to droving that were dealt with by the Commissioners. These included rates on ferries, the condition of quays, damage to roads and crops and what support should be given when outside interests threatened to affect the trade.
Interesting details are given of the main Argyll market at Kilmichael-Glassary and of some of the routes that were followed.

Eric Cregeen, Recollections of an Argyllshire Drover, Scottish Studies, Univ. of Edinburgh, Vol.3, Pt.2, 1959