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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Journals
Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (Website)

 

Click on links for further details of papers

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

Part II, III 45 211

Wanlockhead Roads - Minutes of Fourth (Upper Nithsdale) District Turnpike Road Trustees 5/8/1789 to abolition of tolls, Robertson, J., III 54 161
Roman Road near Moffat - Observations during gas pipeline construction, Yates, M.J., III 58 95
Roman Penetration in West Dumfries and Galloway, Allan Wilson, III, 64, 7
The Carlisle to Glasgow Road, Miller, N. and Miller M., III 65 100
Improvement to the Glasgow-Carlisle Road. 1815, Miller, N. and Miller M., III 67 67
Some Notes on the Old Military Road in Dumfries and Galloway, Anderson, A.D., III 72 79
Roman Penetration in E Dumfriesshire and Beyond, Allan Wilson, III, 73, 17
Bridgend Bridge, Dundrennan A Monastic Structure?, Alex Anderson and James Williams, III, 81, 71
Kirk Sessions as Bridge Builders - Lochfoot & Twynholm, Alex Anderson & James Williams, Third Series, Vol. LXXXIII, 2009
The Old Edinburgh Road in Dumfriesshire and Galloway
A D Anderson, Third Series, Vol.LXXXIV (2010), 101
 
The Roman Road in Annandale, Johnstone, J.T., II 9 85
Natural Determinants of Routes in Lower Nithsdale
Ballantyne, J.D., III 11 10
The Building of Auldgirth Bridge, G W Shirley, III, 23, 71
Notes on Roman Road through Annandale, Robertson, J., III 24 10
Excavations in Dumfriesshire, 1946, St Joseph, J.K., III 24 150
The Military Road.To Portpatrick, 1763 Arnott, M.C., III 28 120
Upper Nithsdale and Westward in Roman Times, Clarke, J., III 30 111

Roman Roads in S-W Scotland
(1) At Glenlochar, Crawford, O.G.S., III 31 22
(2) From Nith to Dee, Inglis, J.A., III 31 25
(3) The Tweedsmuir Road, Bailey, H., III 31 27
(4) From Castledykes (Corbiehall) to Crawford, Radford, C.A.R., Reid, R.C., and Truckell, A.E., III 31 30

The Drove Road into Annandale. Prevost, W.A.J., III 31 121
Notes on Roman Roads, Reid, R.C., III 32 73
Erickstane Brae, Prevost, W.A.J., III 37 111
More Notes on Roman Roads, Reid, R.C., III 37 123
The Road into Ayrshire
- Fortlet at Bankhead, Kirkconnel Clarke, J.- and Wilson, A.,   III 37 136
- A possible Roman Road between the Rivers Cessnock and   Ayr: Clarke, J. and Wilson, A., III 37 143

T- Roads in Upper Nithsdale and Beyond Clarke, J. and Wilson, A. III 37 151

Online volumes


The Roman Road in Annandale, Johnstone, J.T., II 9 85

This paper deals with a section of Roman road running north from Moffat to Little Clyde, some 10 miles. The writer notes that the road is more difficult to trace south of Moffat because of cultivation. Details of its construction at three separate locations are given. In view of differences from other Roman roads it is inferred that its main function was the rapid movement of troops rather than carrying heavy and constant traffic.

 

Natural Determinants of Routes in Lower Nithsdale, Ballantyne, J.D., III 11 10 (online)
The author
examines how the geographical features of the area such as the Lochar Moss, possible fording points, gaps in the hills etc and its history, particularly in relation to Galloway, determined the routes that developed, as well as the siting of defensive works and the growth of Dumfries.

The paper is particularly useful as an example of how such analysis can throw light on the development of early routes before advances in road making, drainage etc made dependence on geography much less.

 

Notes on Roman Road through Annandale, Robertson, J., III 24 10

This paper gives a detailed account of the course of the road through Dumfriesshire from the River Sark to March Burn north of Moffat, noting where remains of the road can still be seen and discussing the possible route where traces have been lost. Details are also given of an excavation carried out at Holehouselinn.

North of Moffat, the old stagecoach road runs very close to the Roman road and the author discusses the course taken by both roads and gives an account of an excavation of a culvert on the coach road.

 

Excavations in Dumfriesshire, 1946, St Joseph, J.K., III 24 150

This paper deals with the Roman road running from Raeburnfoot across Craik Muir, probably to Trimontium. The author describes the remains of the road and gives details of three recent excavations. One of a mound just feet from the road at Craik Cross Hill did not give dating evidence but was very likely to have been a signalling post. Another was of the road nearby and the third was at the fort which gave some idea of its structure. Earlier finds suggest an occupation date in the Antonine period.

He then discusses the route the road might have taken to the south-west where it presumably joined the Annandale road.

 

The Military Road To Portpatrick, 1763, Arnott, M.C., 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 with 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.

 

Upper Nithsdale and Westward in Roman Times, Clarke, J., III 30 111

Recent discoveries had shown that, contrary to previously held opinion, the Romans had had a presence in south-west Scotland. The author lists these discoveries and discusses the extent to which the Romans might have penetrated further into Upper Nithsdale and to the west.

Looking at a possible route to the west from Carronbridge he notes a tradition that a road ran westwards up the Shinnel Water near to Tynron, over to Dalquhair (NX6599) and Polwhat Rig (NS6002). He examined a very old road running via Colt Hill (NX6999) over to the south of Windy Standard (NS6201). He suggests it might have been a patrol track for cavalry rather than a main road which strategic considerations suggest would have ran from Carronbridge to Moniave and then either towards Carsphairn or Dalry to join a north-south road from Glenlochar to the Ayrshire coast.

He then looks at the possibility that the Roman road extended northward from the Carronbridge - Durisdeer area. Field investigations resulted in a possible temporary camp being found near Kirkconnel, and a small fort at Bankhead Farm nearby was also found. Assuming the fortlet implies the presence of a road, he suggests a possible course would have been from Durisdeer up between Dalpeddar Hill and Auchensow Hill then fairly directly past Bankhead towards Corsincon Hill.

 

Roman Roads in S-W Scotland.

(1) At Glenlochar, Crawford, O.G.S., III 31 22
The author investigated a road leading north out of the fort at Glenlochar (3 miles NW of Castle Douglas) and followed faint traces for just over a mile to the south of Carmichael. With nothing found north of here he notes the possibility that it might have been a branch road leading off a north-south route following an older line of road than the A713 that could have led to the coast. To the north it could have run to the Ayrshire coast though he did not think the road running near Dalmellington was of that date.

He also investigated an old road running west from the Old Military Road near Milton (2 miles south of A75 near Crocketford) to see if it was Roman and could have led to Glenlochar. He describes what can be seen along its course (Glenarm, Barr, Hermitage, Old Bridge of Urr, Clarebrand, Crossmichael and continuing as the Kirk Road probably to Lauriston and Gatehouse) but concludes that although very old it was not Roman.

(2) From Nith to Dee, Inglis, J.A., III 31 25
The author gives an account of a search for two Roman roads in Dumfriesshire. One may have led from Glenlochar through Milton to Dalswinton and the author refers to the previous paper that had traced its course west of Milton, noting that although it had not been thought to be Roman, an air photograph suggested that further investigation might be justified.

East of Milton he suggests a route to Dalswinton leading north past Shawhead and over Dalquhairn Hill. A branch road may have left this road near Loaninghead and run north-east to Carzield.

see map (for illustration only)

(3) The Tweedsmuir Road, Bailey, H. & Blance, B, III 31 27

A discovery of a marble head at Hawkshaw (2 miles east of Moffat to Edinburgh Road and 9 miles north of Moffat) well off the line of the Roman road running north to Crawford suggested there might be a road near Hawkshaw.

The track from nearby Carterhope to Erickstane was examined but although it had features common to Roman roads could not be confirmed as such.

see map (for illustration only)

(4) From Castledykes (Corbiehall) to Crawford, Radford, C.A.R., Reid, R.C., and Truckell, A.E., III 31 30

The authors note that the Roman road runs from Crawford to Inveresk when it might be thought that there should also have been a road to the important Castledykes site.

In searching for a road they followed a short stretch out of the south gate at Castledykes and then over Carmichael Hill to Howgate Farm and Howgate itself noting features suggestive of a road. South of Howgate they found remains of a road close to the minor road leading to Roberton where there may have been a bridge connecting with the Inveresk road on the other side of the river.

 

The Drove Road into Annandale. Prevost, W.A.J., 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.

 

Notes on Roman Roads, Reid, R.C., III 32 73

The author gives examples of early charters that have references to early, possibly Roman, roads. The first deals with the Roman road running through Raeburnfoot which must ultimately have led from Newstead to Galloway. A 13th century charter refers to a royal road running from Annandale to Roxburgh which in part at least must be the Roman road and its course might be ascertained if the placenames in the charter could be identified. There is another reference (in the Liber Melros) to a royal road running from the Dunscore area, where the monks had lands, up towards Glencairn.

Another example he gives is a charter of 1558 relating to Wandel in Lanarkshire which refers to the "Merchant Way", which would help determine its crossing point on the Clyde.

 

Erickstane Brae, Prevost, W.A.J., III 37 111
The author gives early references to the Erickstane, north of Moffat, and then discusses the various roads in this area and historical events associated with them. A useful map is included.

 

More Notes on Roman Roads, Reid, R.C., III 37 123

This paper details research into the course of the Roman road running across Craik Muir both to the north-east and to the south-east over to a fort near Langholm. It also looks at the possibility of a Roman road running north through Ayrshire.

In view of the distance from Raeburnfoot to Newstead a search was made for a fort near to Roberton, particularly at a place called Africa. Two sites with this name were examined but no Roman evidence was found, nor could the course of the road be identified. The name itself was a Galloway one and may have referred to a woman called Affrica who lived in Nithsdale in the 1200's.

The author then examines the evidence for, and the various proposals that had been put forward for the likely course of a road between Raeburnfoot and the fort at Broomholm near Langholm.

With regard to a continuation of the Nithsdale road into Ayrshire (at the time traced as far as Carronbridge), the author suggests there may have been a fort at Hurlford, near Kilmarnock, if an east-west road from Loudoun Hill passed through there but notes that urban development make it unlikely that it could ever be found. He refers to recent excavations on the potential line south of Hurlford (see Clarke & Wilson below) and then discusses the possibility that the mediaeval toll points for Ayr (Mach, Karnebuth, Lowdun, Croseneton and Laichalpin) may have been sited on Roman roads and so furnish a clue to the course of the possible road.

 

The Road into Ayrshire. - Fortlet at Bankhead, Kirkconnel Clarke, J.- and Wilson, A., III 37 136

The Road into Ayrshire - A possible Roman Road between the Rivers Cessnock and Ayr: Clarke, J. and Wilson, A., III 37 143
Given that a much-decayed road had been found running past the fortlet at Bankhead near Kirkconnel there was a strong possibility that the road continued into Ayrshire. The paper is an account of excavations undertaken to see if any remains of such a road could be found.

Four roads were found just south of the Cessnock where there was a ford and at least one earlier bridge. One road in particular aligned on the ford, which suggested it had an early date. Two holloways leading to the ford were examined and one in particular with a bed cut out and a roadway laid with stones was suggestive of Roman construction.

They then looked at a point north of Mauchline to see if any early road diverged from later roads leading in to Mauchline. A much damaged road was found which bypassed the town leading to a ford on the River Ayr at Kingencleugh. A holloway associated with this ford showed signs of being cut and laid with cobbles and a parchmark had been reported south of the ford.

The authors recognise that the findings are suggestive only and that proof would only be available if a definite Roman structure was found associated with this line.

The Road into Ayrshire. - Roads in Upper Nithsdale and Beyond Clarke, J. and Wilson, A. III 37 151

This paper examines the routes a possible Roman road running past the fortlet at Bankhead Farm could have taken.

To the south two routes would have been possible, one running between Dalpeddar Hill and Auchensow Hill and possibly coming from Durisdeer where there were marching camps; the other crossing the Nith at Sanquhar and running down its west bank to Carronbridge where there are also Roman remains.

To the north of the fortlet they suggest two possible routes as far as Corsencon Hill. Given a tradition of a Roman camp on Avisyard Hill and the strategic need for a base in this area. they then look at two possible lines to Avisyard Hill.

They then examine a possible line north of Avisyard with a ford over the Lugar at Cumnock, the fords over the Ayr and Cessnock examined above and the straight line of the modern road to Hurlford.

Again they recognise the need to identify Roman structures on this line if a road is to be proved.

 

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

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., III 45 211 (online)

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-Sewart 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.

 

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

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.

 

Roman Road near Moffat - Observations during gas pipeline construction, Yates, M.J., III 58 95 (online)

The opportunity was taken during the construction of a pipeline to examine a Roman road at Muckle Hill near Moffat. The road was 8.5 metres wide and in cross section showed features consistent with Roman construction.

 

Roman Penetration in West Dumfries and Galloway, Allan Wilson, III, 64, 7 (online)

This is a thorough review of previous research into the Roman presence in this area, and the author's own findings.

He looks first at an east-west route, tracing it in sections to the Stranraer area through the forts at Glenlochar and Gatehouse, then at a possible route from Drumlanrig to the south west.

The marching camps at Girvan could imply a route to the west and he discusses the alternatives that had been proposed. Near to the Solway, temporary camps suggest a link to the Annandale road and there may have been a road from the coast up towards Drumlanrig and Durisdeer, and then into Ayrshire.

Possible routes along the Dee, Ken and Doon Valleys are disucssed along with a potential route to Girvan by the Cree valley. The paper concludes with an examination for evidence for a route from Stranraer towards Girvan.

 

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

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 (online)

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.

 

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

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.

 

Roman Penetration in E Dumfriesshire and Beyond, Allan Wilson, III, 73, 17 (online)

Like his paper on west Dumfresshire this is a valuable overview of evidence for Roman roads in the area. Evidence is examined for roads along the main valleys such as the Nith, Annan, Tweed, Esk, Ewes and roads that may have linked some of these.


The Building of Auldgirth Bridge, G W Shirley, III, 23, 71 (online)

 

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

 

Kirk Sessions as Bridge Builders - Lochfoot & Twynholm, Alex Anderson & James Williams, Third Series, Vol. LXXXIII, 2009

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