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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Ferry in the West HighlandsBridges and Ferries

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 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.

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), 256-74
This is similar to the above paper but covers England and Ireland as well as Scotland.

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.

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.

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.


Harper Bridges

Site giving details of several suspension bridges designed and built by Harper and Co., mostly in the north-east of Scotland.

Ferries in Scotland, Marie Weir, John Donald, 1988

This is a comprehensive study of ferries in Scotland whether on rivers, estuaries, sea lochs, or to the islands. Over 400 sites are identified, some very early and often predating bridges. Details are given of their origin along with interesting details of their operation and how they developed over the years. The book is fully illustrated with old prints and photographs.


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.


A.L.Taylor, The Braw New Coat - The Building of Ayr New Brig, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series, 1961

This paper details the long and complicated processes behind the building of this bridge which was needed as a replacement for the decaying Auld Brig. The new bridge was opened in 1788 but was washed away in floods in the 1870's.


Bridging the Dee at Kirkcudbright, T.R.Collin, Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright, 1981

For many years it had been hoped to replace the old and inconvenient ferry at Kirkcudbright with a newly built bridge. The passing of the Stewartry Road Bill afforded an opportunity for this as it allowed for funding of 50 per cent to be raised from local property owners and 50 per cent from subscriptions. The author details the enthusiastic fund-raising that was carried out, including a bazaar, the placing of the contract for the bridge, and its formal opening in 1868. By 1926 it was proving inadequate for the amount of traffic and was replaced by the present day bridge.


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.


Fraser, G.M., The Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen, 1913


Highland Bridges, Gillian Nelson, West Port Books, Edinburgh 2006 (2nd.edition); also Aberdeen University Press 1990


The Ancient Bridge of Stirling: Investigations 1988-2000, Ronald Page, Scottish Archaeological Journal. EUP, Vol 23 pt.2 (Sept 2001)


A Prehistoric Ford near Rough Castle, Falkirk, Janice Hamilton, Ciara Clarke, Andrew Dunwell & Richard Tipping, Scottish Archaeological Journal. EUP, Vol 23 pt.2 (Sept 2001)


The Building of Auldgirth Bridge, G W Shirley, DGNHAS, III, 23, 71


Bridgend Bridge, Dundrennan A Monastic Structure?, Alex Anderson and James Williams, DGNHAS, III, 81, 71


The third widening of Fleet Bridge, Gatehouse 1964-65, Alex D Anderson, Journal of the Institution of Municipal Engineers, Vol. 96, September 1969, 262-266


A Heritage of Bridges between Edinburgh, Kelso and Berwick, R Paxton & T Ruddock, Institution of Civil Engineers, Edinburgh


Dunkeld, Telford's Finest Highland Bridge, Christopher R Ford, Perth & Kinross Libraries 2004


Ferry Tales of Argyll and the Isles, Walter Weyndling, Allan Sutton Publishing 1996


Bridging the Leven, Gordon Burns, 2009


Kirk Sessions as Bridge Builders - Lochfoot & Twynholm, Alex Anderson & James Williams, Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Third Series, Vol. LXXXIII, 2009