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Resources on Old Scottish Roads

Berwickshire Naturalists Club

Link to Internet Archives
All of the references below can be reached from this link. However, a few longer papers are linked directly. Some of the items below are just short notices of a topic.

Volume 4 (1857-62)
Page 378 In a discussion of the battle of Flodden mention is made of a very old bridge called the Branx bridge. It crossed the Pallinsburn near Branxton, opposite the road to Mardon and was said to have been where the English crossed to battle. Most of the bridge had disappeared at the time of writing.

Page 454 Notices of the Remains of Ancient Camps on Both Banks of the River Tweed, near Milne-Graden, David Milne Home.
Discussions of fortifications near Twizel Ford, about 3 miles NE of Coldstream, and the practice in the 16th century of keeping a watch on the fords on the border.

Volume 5, (1863-68)
page 90 Ancient bridge in Coldstream, Revd. Peter Mearns
Details of the remains of a bridge that was probably connected with Coldstream Abbey, founded c.1150.

Volume 7, (1873-75)
page 57-58 Notices of Chatton
Includes list dating from the 1550's of fords to be guarded against Scots incursions

page 167-168 Anniversary Address
Mention of old bridge at Etal. Etal is in Northumberland, 5 miles east of Coldstream. The bridge dated from the middle ages and was in a ruinous state.

pps 223-225 Extracts from the Session-Book of Hutton Parish, A.D. 1649-1677, James Hardy
Many details of assistance given to the needy. Collections for Leet, Ednam & Linton bridges.

page 491 Maxwellheugh and Springwood Park, James Tait
Note of bridge over Teviot and some local roads built in 1794.

Volume 8, (1876-78)
page 422, 423 Mentions of Ashiesteel Bridge (4 miles W. of Galashiels) and Shirra's Road. The bridge broke when first being built; the Shirra's road was a track used by Sir Walter Scott, who was the Sherrif of Selkirkshire, to reach the Shirra's Knowe on Peel Farm (Note: Scott lived at Ashiesteel 1804-1812).

Page 426 Former ford near Ashiesteel Bridge (800m upriver) where there had been a riding stone to show the depth of water. There was still a boat there.

Page 439 Ashiesteel ford disused for several years. Mention of King's Ford where the Caddon joined the Tweed at Caddonfoot.

Volume 9, (1879-81)
page 105 The Catrail, or Picts-Work-Ditch, James Smail - reference to the Galloway Road p.115; Wheel Causeway, p.116
In this discussion of the Catrail, a linear earthwork said to have ran from Galashiels to Wheel, the author says that at Cliffhope and Dawstone Edge (NY5699) near Peel. it may have been used as the "Galloway Road". It got this name from the Galloway ponies that carried coal from collieries in Northumberland up to Hawick - he mentions another "coal road" running to Jedburgh by Kale Water Head and Riccalton (about 5 miles SE of Jedburgh). In a reference to the Wheel Causeway he sees it as a Roman road going down by Deadwater, and notes how similar it is to the Catrail in places. However, see Harry Inglis ( Ancient Border Highways etc PSAS, Vol.58, pps.203-223) for some interesting observations on the Wheel Causeway and the Catrail in this area.

page 446 Mention of a "curious old bridle bridge" near Cockburnspath Tower (Canmore record).

Volume 10, (1882-84)
page 17-18 Mention of Kemylpeth (note: this is what Dere Street is called for the first few miles over the English Border, now Gamelspath).

page 307 Black Dyke and British Camps, James Tait
This was said to have ran for about 10 miles from Legerwood parish on the north, down to Mertoun parish in the south, although when Tait was writing most traces had disappeared. There was a tradition that it had been used as a road, and even that it was a Roman road. See also Vol.26 (page 359) The Black Dykes of Berwickshire, J H Craw which has a map showing the course of the dyke.

page 14 Kelso Steps (Calsy or Causeway steps?)
In an account of a field visit to Hounam, mention is made of two localities near Hindhope called Kelso Steps. The writer says that the name could indicate they were built and used by monks from Kelso when journeying to Redesdale to collect tithes of horses due to them. However, the entry in the index appears as: "Kelso Steps (Calsy or Causeway Steps?)" suggesting they were called after Kelso because of the similarity in pronunciation..

page 401 Notes on Yarrow, James Hardy
Deuchar Bridge (Canmore record) - Details of this very early bridge over the Yarrow. It gave access from Ettrick and the south of Yarrow parish by a road over Kershope-swire. There was said to have been a road up by the Deuchar Burn to Minchmoor and Traquair and then Edinburgh. There is another reference to the building of a bridge over the Yarrow in 1653, possibly that at Mountbenger and Eldinhope.

Volume 12-13, (1887-89)
Part 1, (1887), page 130 Old Roads on Gala Water and Vicinity, Miss Russell of Ashiesteel
The writer describes how people used to travel up by the Gala Water, crossing and recrossing many times on their way to Edinburgh. She also says that there was an old road from Berwickshire to Glasgow that came by Langshaw (about 4 miles north of Galashiels) over to Clovenfords, then past Laidlawstiel to the Tweed. There had been a smithy at Laidlawstiel on this old route. (Note: The road is shown on the Military Survey map c.1750 although at Langshaw it runs up to Lauder rather than Earlston).

Volume 14, (1890-93)
Part 1, (1892), page 138 Rule Water Ca'Trail, W Deans
This traces an earthwork in the area about 10 miles south-west of Jedburgh, which was thought by the author to have been a road. It is quite hard to follow its course from the text and it does not appear on OS maps except possibly an entrenchment near Hazelly Cleugh (NT5308) although this is noted by the RCAHMS (NT50NW 9) as an agricultural boundary. The author mentions a couple of old tracks including an old disused road that went from Jedburgh to Liddlesdale and passed near Earlside (NT5309). Much of the area is now heavily forested.

Part 2, (1893), p 328 Former lines of road about Ashiesteel, Miss Russell of Ashiesteel
The author discusses various routes between Selkirk and Ashiesteel and the route Mary Queen of Scots might have taken between Edinburgh and Jedburgh. Before the Yair Bridge was built, the Tweed was crossed at the King's ford (Blakehope ford) opposite the mouth of the Caddon. She mentions the fact that Ashiesteel ford had changed its position over time.

Volume 15, (1894-95)
Part 1, (1894) pps 47-50 Edincains Bridge and Other Ancient means of Communication, with their antiquities
The origin of the name is discussed - theories revolve round a King Edward or Edwin though nothing definite has ever been ascertained. The writer refers to the many bridges over the streams in this whole area. He notes that Edincains bridge had been destroyed by a farmer to prevent people using a public footpath on his farm.

page 180 Innerwick Castle, Edinkins Brig and Thornton, Dr Hardy
Traditions about the name of the bridge. Blown up by gunpowder.

Volume 19, (1903-05)

Part 2, (1904) page 169 The Liberalis Stone, Rev. Robert Borland
Sir Walter Scott was very interested in this (also known as the Yarrow Stone) and had a note to his "Dowie Dens of Yarrow" saying that it was uncovered when ploughing Annan's Treat. The writer says it was actually Annan Street, the old Roman road to Annan. (Note: It is not clear what evidence he has for this - it is probably a conjecture).

page 206-7
Mention of bridge over Etterick at Selkirk replacing one half a mile away, that was swept away in 1777. The first bridge was built by Alexander II in 1234 and was two miles downstream. Old bridge at Deuchar damaged in flood of 1734.

Part 3, (1905) page 296 Note that Dunglass New Bridge is 90 feet high and on the county boundary; Dunglass Old Bridge is very ancient and picturesque.

page 333-339 Cuthbert's Hope, Roxburghshire; with an appended note on Dere Sreet, George Watson
Mention of Dere Street in charters. Discusses the derivation of the name and argues that it has mistakenly been called Watling Street. In a charter for the parish of Maxton, a king's highway from Roxburgh to Annan is mentioned. He says this came by the Liddel to the Wheel Causeway which it followed to the Rule Water, then by Swinnie Moor to Jedburgh. It then went to Roxburgh from where it went by the Tweed then up Lauderdale to Newbattle and beyond. Around St Boswells it was probably the same as Dere Street. (Note: The Annan road is thought to have ran over Craik Cross Moor following the course of a Roman road. The road he is talking about is probably the mediaeval route between Carlisle and Berwick.) He continues discussing Dere Street with charter references for it being in the vicinity of Thirlstane, Channelkirk, Cranston and between Newbattle and Cowden.

Volume 20, (1906-08)
Part 1, (1906) page 111 Berwick Bridge - reference to Berwick Bridge being destroyed by floods c.1295 as the arches were too low.

Part 2(1907) page 173 Leaderfoot Bridge erected 1780
page 174 mention in passing of Monk's Ford near Old Melrose

Volume 21, (1909-11)
Part 2, (1910) pages 169 - 205 Notes on Pawston, Mindrum, Shotton etc, by the late James Hardy
Contains interesting references to fords and paths from charters and other sources

Volume 22, (1912-15)
Part 2, (1913)
page 50-52 Anniversary Address, James Curle
Description of Dere Street

page 122-123 In 1294 there was a major flood on the Teviot that damaged bridges including that of Berwick.

page 133 Repairs to Berwick Bridge

page 153 The monks of Kelso had a road for waggons to Berwick and a resting place at Simprin.

Part 4, (1915)
page 398, 399 Jedburgh Typography (1817-1845), J Linsay Hilson
1829, 1830, 1831 Three items printed in Jedburgh, viz. a) line of road to be taken from Caitha in Roxburghshire by Jedburgh and the Carter Fell to Newcastle; b) Report of the Roxburghshire Committee on the road between Edinburgh and London by Jedburgh; c) report on a proposed alteration of the line of road from Hundalee Smithy to near Jedburgh by Ferniehirst and Edgerston Rig, to Whitelee Toll Bar. This last item mentions a proposed tunnel.

Volume 23, (1916-18)
Part 1 (1916)
page 116 Maxton: Bow-Brig-Syke apparition

This is a tale of two sisters who used to appear near a small bridge. They had been murdered and placed under the flat stones that had formed the bridge. Once they were found the apparitions ceased.

Page 127-130 Fa'un Brigs Game
Description of an old game where a couple of players form a bridge under which the others run. The bridge collapses on the last player who is detained until a ransom is paid. The game continues until all have been caught and ransomed.

Volume 24, (1919-22)
Part 4 (1922)
page 493
Note on Hexpethgatehead which was a pass where the Wardens of the Middle Marches would meet.

page 423-450 Chirnside Common, J H Craw
There are a number of references to roads and fords in this account of the Common, along with a map.

Volume 25, (1923-25)
Part 1 (1923) pages 4-7 Anniversary Address: Notes on early cycling and motoring, James M'Whir

Part 3 (1925) page 455/456 In 1725 a post boy was lost on his journey between Edinburgh and London, possibly near Holy Island.

page 456 First Hegira of Lindisfarne Monks with the Body of St Cuthbert, AD 875-883, Howard Pease
In response to Danish raids the community of Lindisfarne left with the body of their saint and other relics. The route they took on their exile is not known for definite but may be shown by the dedications of churches to Cuthbert. At one point they may have crossed over the Solway to Whithorn from where they would go by Kirkcudbright, Ballantrae, Girvan, Straiton, Maybole, Prestwick, Monkton, Mauchline, Sorn, Glencairn, Moffat, Ewesdale (all with churches dedicated to Cuthbert) and then down to Bewcastle.

page 372 Details of the new bridge being built at Berwick - see also immediately below.

Volume 26, (1926-28)
Part 1 (1926) page 41 Note on the Roman Road in Oxnam area

Part 3 (1928) page 318 The Story of the Foul Ford: A Lammermuir Tragedy, Thomas Gibson
This is a story of an apparation seen at the Foul Ford which is half-way between Greenlaw and Longformacus on the road through the north muir (now a track running about half a mile east of Kettleshiel). See also pages 301-303

page 44, 45 Berwick new bridge (Royal Tweed Bridge - Canmore record)
Visit to bridge with some details

Part 2, page 129 Note on progress in building of the new bridge.

page 134 Plate X Photos of timbers of old wooden bridge at Berwick exposed during work on new bridge.

Volume 27, (1929-1931)
Part 1 (1929) page 45 Herring Road
In this account of an excursion to the Mutiny Stones (just north of Byrecleugh and 4 miles west of Longformacus) there is mention of a nearby Herring Road and an old inn where the Lammermuir shepherds would gather annually to reclaim lost sheep. The Herring Road can be seen on the 1:25000 map crossing the Dye about 3 miles upstream from Byrecleugh.

page 93 Crachoctrestrete: A Forgotten Berwickshire Road, J Hewat Craw
The author discusses the route of this old road based on the evidence of various charters. It ran from at least near Warlawbank up to Eyeford near Butterdean. Its name, its mention in mediaeval charters and its following a parish boundary show its antiquity.

Part 2, (1930)
page 165 Travelling 200 Years Ago

In 1722 it took 7 days to travel from Edinburgh to London.

Page 176 Soutra Aisle, The Roman Road and Channelkirk
Pages 179, 180 Details of the course of Dere Street

page 268 Ancrum Bridge
Collections in all churches in Scotland for the repair of Ancrum Bridge almost destroyed by flooding in 1698

Part 3 (1931)
page 330 Deep Trackways on Simonside Hills, E R Newbigin
(in England but of some relevance)
Although dealing with tracks on hills in Northumberland it may have relevance for similar trackways in Scotland. One possibility the writer looks at is that these are prehistoric.

page 53 Starchhouse Toll, Mordington
Note on border marriages carried out here.

Volume 28, (1932-34)
Part 1 (1932) page 83 Ancrum Bridge
Collection in 1666 at Ayr Kirk for repair of Ancrum Bridge

Part 2 (1933), page 167 Crossings of the Tweed
In discussing the battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 it was noted that Berwick Bridge had been swept away in 1294 and was not rebuilt until 1492. The only way of crossing the Tweed was a ferry and a ford at Yarrow, one mile upstream from Berwick.

Part 3 (1934) page 208 Coldstream Bridge

Before the bridge was built in 1766, the road into England crossed at a ford. The town was lit by gas in 1834, the first in Scotland to do so.

Volume 29, (1935-37)
Part 2 (1936) page 195
Note of a drove road that crossed Borthwick Water 6 miles west of Hawick and ran over Commonside Moor towards Hermitage and Gilsland.

Volume 30, (1938, 1939, 1940-46)
Part 2 (1939) page 181
Note on the Bourjo, a quarry where some of the stone used in Melrose abbey was obtained.

Volume 31-32, (1947-52)
Volume 31, part 1, (1947) page 22-34 Pennymuir, Woden Law and Dere Street, Sir W Aitchison
Detailed analysis of the course taken by Dere Street over the Cheviots (see also page 11).

Volume 33-34, (1953-58)
Vol. 33 pt.1, Extracts from the Records of the Corporation of the Skinners and Glovers, Duns
page 11 payments to those poor who had passes to move around the country.

page 12 payment from 1754 onwards for the upkeep of the highways - this was probably to ensure members did not have to do statute labour work on the roads themselves.

Vol.34 pt 2 page 84-86 Note on Kelso Bridges, G W Bennett
There had been a stone bridge between Roxburgh and Kelso in the middle ages but it had been destroyed by 1410 or 1411. Ferries were then operated until a new bridge was started in 1754 although it was destroyed in a flood in 1797. The present bridge dates from 1803 and was designed by John Rennie. It was a toll bridge and the tenant built a house with the profits which was called "Plunder Hall". The tolls led to a riot in 1854.

Volume 35-36
Volume 35
Part 3, (1961) page 276-277 Hermitage Castle and Upper Liddesdale, Miss Donaldson-Hudson
Details of a road used to bring coal from the North Tyne collieries to places like Hawick and Jedburgh. It passed through a toll-point called Bloody Bush - she lists the toll-rates and the distances from Bloody Bush (note: the Bloody Bush is on the border 6 miles ENE from Castleton NY5791)

p.288 Notes on Seven Lammermuir Roads, Angus Graham
The roads covered are Dere Street north of Channelkirk; Haddington to Lauderdale; Haddington to Duns, by Longformacus; Haddington to the Whiteadder Water, by Johnscleugh; Dunbar to the Dye Water and beyond, by Johnscleugh; the Herring Road; "Muir Road from Lawder to Dunbar". In addition to describing each road he details its historical associations. The author had already written two papers about these roads (except for Dere Street) in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland (see here - vols. 83 & 93) but all the papers are well worth reading.

Volume 36
Part 2, page 143 Toll Bar Monument at Bloody Bush, Ruth Donaldson-Hudson
More details of the coal road passing through the Bloody Bush toll-point - see Vol.35 immediately above.

page 146 An Adventurous Ride - Battle of Sclaterford - Illicit Whisky Trade, Ruth Donaldson-Hudson
These are notes on two bridges about two and a half miles north of Bonchester Bridge, 1) a rider approaching a bend on the bridge over the Rule Water too fast and the horse leaping the parapet into the river; 2) a skirmish at the Sclaterford; and 3) an inn at the other bridge involved in the illicit whisky trade.

Volume 37, (1965-67)
Part 3, (1967) page 189 ff A Short History of Transport and Agriculture in Berwickshire, James Hood
Details of roads, the turnpike and statute labour system, and transport.

page 222 Note that Fogo Bridge over Whiteadder was built by Sir James Cockburn and has an inscription and date of 1647.

Volume 38, (1968-70)
Part 3 (1970), page 175 ff The Postal History of Berwickshire, T D Thomson
Many details of the postal history are given.

page 218 The "Historical Diary" of Mr James Watson of Duns, Grace A Elliot
Note that "on the north side of Coldingham Manse there is a road called the "chirett" from the French "Charette" a "road for wains". This we know today as the "chariot way""

Volume 39
Part 1, (1971) page 29 The Straight Furrow, K M Lishman
Excerpt from farm account book noting increase in rates on Coldstream and Eccles roads between 1892 and 1896

Volume 40-41, (1974-80)
Volume 40
Part 2, (1975) page 90 Marriages at Lamberton Toll 1753 - 1940, Revd. J C Lusk
Details of marriages carried out at Lamberton Toll which was on the Border, and of the early route of the Great North Road.

Part 3, (1976) page 176 Union Bridge, Revd. J C Lusk
Details of this suspension bridge which is 6 miles upriver from Berwick.

Volume 41, (1977-1980)
part 1, (1977) , Forgotten Industries of Berwickshire, Grace A Elliot
page 2 mention of salt roads

Part 4 (1980) page 257 mention of fines on carters 1815

page 264 Great North Road, T D Thomson
This looks in detail as to when the new road by Grantshouse replaced the Old Post Road over Coldingham Moor.

From British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB). (Abstracts only)
Vol.48 (2), 2000 page 179-181 Fogo Bridge, L H Cleat

Vol.49 (3), 2004 page 193-207 Discarded Artefacts...from a mediaeval road? Excavations at Houndwood, Berwickshire, Ronan Toolis.