David 1 came to the throne in 1124 he, and the later
Canmore kings, introduced major changes in the way Scotland
was governed which had a profound effect on all aspects
of life, including roads and transport. It is at this
point that we begin to leave the vague trackways and
settlements of the Dark Ages behind and see the emergence
of routes, which are still with us today.
story of David 1 is well known. He was brought up in
the Anglo-Norman court and when he became king called
on many of his friends from the court to help him establish
his new kingdom. An exceptionally able man, there were
four key elements in his strategy.(1)
These were the introduction of a variant of the feudal
system; the reorganisation of the Church to enable it
to play a major role in many aspects of society; the
promotion of local and foreign trade principally through
the formation of new towns; and the administration of
law and order by the establishment of sherrifdoms. A
number of new shires were formed and each of these elements
in his strategy had its part to play in their development.
Ayrshire as an entity had to wait until Carrick was
separated from Galloway in 1186 and the shire was formed
a few years after this. A castle was built near Ayr
about 1197 and the sheriff resided there. The new burgh
of Ayr was created about 1200 and Irvine was founded
at much the same time. As new towns they were given
special trading privileges to encourage people to settle
there. Among these, there was the important right given
to Ayr to collect tolls at various points on the boundaries
of the new shire.
Kyle and Carrick were given by the king to major vassals.
Cunninghame was held by the De Morville's with their
centre somewhere near Kilwinning and Kyle-Stewart (between
the Ayr and Irvine) by the Fitz Alans who later became
the Stewarts. Their stronghold was at Dundonald. Kyle
Regis, between the Ayr and the Doon, was held directly
by the king. Carrick was still part of Galloway, which
held itself apart from the rest of the emerging Scotland
but events led to it being separated off from Galloway
as an Earldom, under the Scots king, in 1186. It was
common for major landowners to found a monastery - thus
Kilwinning in Cunninghame, and Crossraguel in Carrick.
A monastery was intended for Dalmilling in Kyle but
never became established. Over in the east of the shire,
extensive lands were gifted to Melrose Abbey and they
had a centre at Mauchline to manage these. They also
had lands in Maybole.
in Early Mediaeval Times
Move cursor over feature. Roads link
to brief descriptions but detailed discussion of evidence
is in main text.
from the 1935 Ordnance Survey map. © Crown copyright
Under each of the major vassals there were minor vassals
who each received areas of land and it is these which
in many cases were the forerunners of the parishes.
On arriving in an area, they would set up a fortified
dwelling, sometimes a motte and bailley, sometimes an
enclosure, and sometimes using old hill forts and crannogs.
The enclosures were called "tons" e.g., Eglinton, Symington,
Riccarton. Collectively, the residences were called
vills. Each usually had a church associated with it.
It is not known how the existing
population reacted to these incomers but the large number
of fortified sites may indicate a degree of hostility
on their part or at least, prudence on the part of the
is the context in which we can begin to see the establishment
of a network of routes. Some were already there but
new ones were created. The toll points show the skeleton
of a long-distance network. There were two routes north
through the Lochwinnoch Gap and over the Fenwick Moors,
one up the Irvine Valley into Lanarkshire, another along
the Nith towards Dumfries and one either in the Doon
Valley north of Dalmellington or south of Glenapp near
to Stranraer. The towns themselves had a network of
local routes as well as bridges and fords.
In the countryside, the new "vills" with their central
strongpoint and associated churches, farms and mills
would have been responsible for a rapid growth in local
networks as well as longer routes between neighbouring
vills and to the strongholds of the major vassals. The
abbeys and the religious establishment at Fail as well
as that at Mauchline were major landowners in their
own right and would also have contributed to the growth
of local networks.
common feature of the middle ages was the presence of
pilgrims on the highways. A major route to Whithorn
led through Ayrshire and there seems to have been a
route or routes to Paisley, Govan and Glasgow where
different saints were venerated. To help pilgrims, and
travellers in general, the Church provided spittals
where they could rest, and a number of these existed
in those days was of course difficult and slow. Travellers
must often have been tired and hungry and chilled by
exposure to wind and rain. To be stranded at night was
a real hardship and fording streams in flood carried
real dangers of drowning. Journeys would have been undertaken
on foot or on horseback. Commodities were carried on
packhorses, with carts and wagons a rare sight. Perhaps
surprisingly, travel may have been easier at that time
than later because there was relatively little movement
and the "roads" would not have been in the bad condition
they were prior to the turnpikes.
will now look in more detail at each of these features
to try to trace what routes there were.
our purposes, identifying routes, the most significant
of the above elements of the new society was the fact
that in 1202 William the Lion granted the Burgesses
of the new town of Ayr the right to levy tolls and customs
on goods passing certain points in the area. We are
very fortunate to have this list as it allows us to
posit routes from these places to Ayr.
toll points were at Mach, Karnebuth, Lowdun, Croseneton
and Lachtalpin and it is almost certain that they are
listed in order from north to south or vice versa. The
most promising identification would be Mach as in the
area of the Maich Burn, near Kilbirnie, Karnebuth as
a point on the Stewarton road over Mearns moor known
as Cairn or possibly the later Kingswell or Karin as
it was known or Carnbooth near Carmunnock, and Lowdun
is clearly Loudoun. Croseneton may be near Corsincon
and Lachtalpin could be Little Laicht north of Cairnryan.
Three stones are found near here, which marked the boundary
with Galloway, and one is still known as the Taxing
Stane. As said, they may indicate routes already in
it is to be identified with the crossing of the Maich
it is fairly reasonable to assume a routing past Kilbirnie,
perhaps crossing a ford at Pitcon one mile north of
Dalry and then running east of the Garnock and Kilwinning.
This would avoid unnecessary river crossings. Once over
the Irvine, whether at Irvine itself where there were
fords or further upriver, it would either have gone
via Dundonald or the coast to Ayr. An intriguing possibility,
if this is correct, is that it might be an older route
into the heart of Strathclyde. It would be equally easy
to head for Dumbarton or the later British capital at
Govan by this route and it would be coming from an area
incorporated into Strathclyde in the 800's. Without
this explanation, it is hard to account for a route
being here at all.
Barbour's Life of Bruce mention is made of the Makyrnock
It is made in an account of a skirmish prior to the
battle of Loudoun Hill between Douglas and De Mowbray.
It was identified with this route by the translator,
George Eyre Todd, who says that the battle took place
at Edryford where on the south there was an ascent and
a narrow way, and to the north was a "difficult way".
On both sides there were impassable marshes. In a footnote,
he suggests that it could more properly be known as
the "Maich and Garnock Way", two streams which flow
towards Kilbirnie Loch, and refers to an old ford crossing
the Maich Water among the marshes at the loch.
possibility is that it was in the Irvine valley, a suggestion
made by Hendry and Strawhorn in their study of an old
road found above Darvel in the 1950's. (4)
Yet another is that it may
have ran on or near to Macharnock Moor, possibly the
same road shown on Moll's map which ran from Kilmarnock
past Rowallan and Robertland towards Glasgow or even
the present A77 line to Glasgow. Macharnock Moor was
to the east of Robertland in the north part of Fenwick
parish and the ford would be over what is now called
the Kilmarnock Water. The editor of Pont's Cunninghame:
Topographised, Dobie, states the possibility of the
Way being in the Macharnock Moor area.
till a strait place gan he ga,
is in Makyrnockis Way;
Netherford it hat perfay;
lyis betuix marraisses twa, Qhuhar that na horss or
lyve may ga.
said, Karnebuth could be identified as a point on the
Stewarton - Mearns road known as Cairn or with Kingswell
on the present Eaglesham road which used to be known
as Karin. Either would fit fairly closely with the present
A77 route, although the route of this time would not
necessarily be identical with the modern road - it is
just a natural route. As noted above, it could be on
the Makyrnock Way; it is certainly closer to Loudoun
possibility is that it was at Carnbooth, just south-west
of Castlemilk on the south side of Glasgow. This would
give a reasonable route, perhaps close to the A77 line
and then running through Mearns to Cathcart and Glasgow.
It is noteworthy that Rutherglen shared Karnebuth (and
Lowdun) in its list of toll points; but this in itself
is not enough to decide between the above identifications
(see The Toll Points of
Ayr and Rutherglen for a discussion on this.
is confirmation of a major route south of Kilmarnock
which could be a continuation of this road on the A77
line. In an old charter of about 1290 relating to the
Symington area, there is mention of the great way (magnam
viam) leading to Ayr. (6)
Unfortunately, there are not enough clues in the charter
to say exactly where it was and where it came from.
A reference to it being near the lands of St Thomas
of Aconia (present Spittalfield area) suggests it was
a north-south route, and of course the "spittal" may
have been for travellers on the road. The term magnam
viam implies considerable traffic and that it might
have been a "made" road, perhaps in parts only.
can hardly be any doubt that this was a route well used
in mediaeval times. The Roman road which headed for
the fort at Loudoun Hill would have made for easy travel
from central Lanarkshire and beyond, and there are historical
references of military movements through the area such
as the battle of Loudoun Hill and Wallace's ambuscade
of an English troop at the same location some time earlier.
J Keith Joseph in his study of the Roman road that led
to the fort at Loudoun noted the presence of mediaeval
hollow ways beside the main road near Allanton (A71),
which implies considerable traffic.
As already mentioned, a twelve foot wide road with kerbs
and a fill of small stones and gravel laid on large
stones was examined by Hendry and Strawhorn in the 1950's
just north of Darvel at the eastern end of Dalwhatswood
Farm where a 90 yard stretch was identified. It reappeared
300 yards further to the west where it skirted a gully
and led to a ford over the Howgencraig Burn. A track
from this ford towards Clearmount Farm is shown on the
6" map and this may be a continuation of this road.
It does not appear on older maps.
is a strong possibility that the route from Loudoun
crossed the Irvine at Newmilns and ran on the south
side of the river to Galston and then made its way to
Ayr via Fail - this is discussed more fully in the section
It seems clear enough that this was on a route up the
Nith Valley. Dumfries was also a burgh, set up like
Ayr to contain Galloway and the implication is that
it must have been a safe route for trade. It is difficult
to say what the route was between the Corsincon Hill
area and Ayr. One clue that it could have been via New
Cumnock is that in the 1306 invasion of Scotland, Edward
II took a large army up the Nith valley to New Cumnock
where he held a parliament. This is not to deny the
possibility of other routes; there was certainly an
old track over to Auchencloigh from where the Drongan
area and ultimately Ayr could be reached.
there is a suggestive Laight Alpin near Waterside on
the Ayr to Dalmellington route, the generally agreed
identification is Little Laicht north of Stranraer.
As such it clearly points to a north south route. Later
evidence suggests two or three routes from here to Glenapp
and others further north. It is as well to remember
that these routes were created whilst Carrick was part
was not long before a dispute arose between Ayr and
Irvine about trading rights and in 1372 Irvine was awarded
sole trading rights in the baronies of Cunninghame and
Largs. It is not clear how this links to the above toll
points (Mach, Karnebuth and Lowdun being in Cunninghame)
but at least it allows us to infer trade routes to Irvine
within these baronies. That being so, it is reasonable
to assume routes north to Largs, up to Kilwinning, Dalry
and Kilbirnie, to Dunlop and Stewarton and across to
Kilmaurs and the Kilmarnock area.
Prestwick was the first burgh in Ayrshire but for various
reasons never attained the status of Ayr. It was followed
by the establishment of Ayr and Irvine. The two new towns
were sited on rivers, both of which had fords and later
bridges. Each had their own network of routes.
his study, The Streets in Earlier Times, W.J.Dillon
four fords in Ayr:
to Newton Green
-Water Vennel or New Bridge Street to the foot of Newton
where the river is narrowest
-the vennel at Fish Cross near to the site of the Auld
Turner's bridge now stands. An outcrop of rocks is still
ford was sited up river at the Overmill; this was Stobacre
|Ford near Turner's Bridge
Water Vennel ford was linked to a route which led south
to fords over the Doon and the Curtecon, and to the
King's Highway to the north. The Fish Cross ford linked
to the Dalmellington road.
the authorities found fords something of a nuisance
as passage was free unlike the bridge where a toll was
levied. To prevent this they obtained authority to deepen
the fords in the river.
fords, there were "gaits" and "ports" which give a clue
to old routes. Gait or gate is an old Scots word meaning
road or at least "the way to" and there were several
in Ayr, viz. Woodgait, Cambergait, Seagait, Doongait
and Quarrygait. Doon is thought to refer to sand dunes
rather than the river of that name. There was a Kyle
Port and a Carrick Port in Ayr.
|The Auld Brig
is thought that the bridge at Ayr dates from 1236 perhaps
built on an earlier wooden structure. Certainly it was
in 1236 that Alexander II gave Burgesses the royal fishings
of the Ayr and Doon "for the maintenance of the bridge
and the improvement of the harbour." There is a tale
that it was funded by two maiden sisters who were upset
at the numbers of people drowning at Ducotstream ford,
200 yards from the site.(9)
This bridge was not necessarily the "Auld Brig" which
may date from the 1400's. The "New Brig" of Burn's poem
built about 1788 replaced this. Curiously enough the
"New Brig" only lasted until 1878 whereas the "Auld
Brig" was restored in the 1970's and now serves as a
Some work has been done on roads in the vicinity of
Ayr in the later middle ages, as detailed by Strawhorn.(10)
Some will have been part of long distance routes
and others used for travel to the weekly market and
the annual fair and other local needs.
near Ayr that are mentioned by Strawhorn were:
- the Cumnock road which ran through Coylton to Belston
and Gaitsyd to Holmston and Ayr. It crossed the Lichtmylburn
where in 1582 there was "an ancient bridge"
the "Foul Calsey" which ran from Loch Fergus past Trees,
Macnairston, Crofthead to Ayr. I have been told that
this road was used in the 1920's at harvest time. Farmers
cleared out a lot of tracks at that time perhaps because
they denied arable ground to them and could damage ploughs.
It joined the Cumnock road near Holmston
- the Dalmellington road passing past Mosshill and Abbothill
- the road from Carrick which crossed at the Brig
O'Doon and then over the Curtecan at Slaphouse Bridge
- the shore road from the south which crossed the Doon
at a ford near the mouth of the river and then the Curtecan
by a "new bridge" built in 1546 and the Black Burn to
the north by ford. The use of the ford and the spittal
just north of here suggests this was an earlier route
than the one using the Brig O'Doon.
were also some lesser tracks serving local needs:
- a track from Doonfoot to Alloway Kirk past the Motte
then splitting to both Corton and Carcluie
- the Wrack Road from Corton past Fynnickland to the
- Carcluie to Alloway Motte and the Slaphouse bridge
to the sea near Blackburn. Both these routes were used
to take seaweed to the fields and peat down to the town.
They were also used as the way to Dalrymple
- another road running from the sea over the Curtecan
to St Leonards and Castlehill.
good part of these routes now lie within the modern
town of Ayr.
Irvine had four fords: - the Chapelford at the foot
of Chapel Brae
the Detroit Publishing Company's Views of Landscape
and Architecture in Scotland - see thumbnails on
Library of Congress site here.
- the Puddleford near the Kirkgate- Fucans Ford, later
to be know as Carford because of the coal cars or carts
which used it
- the Marress ford, downstream from this. Stepping
stones were laid down here in 1853.
also had its "gates": Sandgate, Seagate, Kirkgate and
Bridgegate, all of which date from the middle ages.
There was a Townhead Port and the Westport. Mention
is made in 1506 of a route to Kilwinning. Routes to
Ayr and Kilmarnock and possibly up towards Beith were
bridge at Irvine was probably first built of wood in
the 14th century and later, certainly by 1533, of stone.
W Walker in his History of Irvine and McJanet in his
book the Royal Burgh of Irvine give full details of
the history of the bridge.(11,12)
It is suggested that the growth
in the population and the economy when the harbour was
built led to the need for a bridge. Prior to that time
the ford was adequate.
O'Doon at Alloway
bridges known from this time are Alloway, probably a
little later than Ayr (cf. Alexander's reference to
a bridge, above) and also replacing a wooden structure,
Girvan and as said, Bardrochat near Colmonell and at
Kilwinning. It is unlikely that these were the only
bridges as it was common for the church and major landowners
to build them as acts of piety. The presence of a bridge
over the Doon at Alloway is clear confirmation of a
route to the south, as is that at Girvan.
As said, sheriffs administered law and order and formed
a useful check to the power of local barons. From the
castle in Ayr, the Sherrif would have made journeys throughout
the area as required for the administration of law and
order. Frequent visits to the major landowners at Dundonald
and Kilwinning, and to the abbeys can also be assumed.
In addition, it is possible that particular attention
was paid to Carrick in the early days as this had only
recently been separated off from Galloway.
is of note that there was hardly any legislation on
roads in this period. William the Lion had a rule of
the road for horsemen or men leading horses or cattle
if they met on a bridge or narrow path. David II enacted
that the king's highway should be forty feet wide and
that no one should encroach on it. Nothing else appears
until 1555, when an Act was passed against encroachment
or stopping up of highways leading to burghs and ports.
This was strengthened by another Act in 1592.
In his study of early parishes,
Dillon identifies those that can be traced back to the
vill system. He has three groups: one with the suffix
"ton"; one preceded by 'Kil' or 'Kirk"; and the other
of parishes which can also be traced to the vills. He
suggests that the 'Kil' and 'Kirk' parishes are linked
to the vills because it was common for early churches
to be sited in or close to fortified hills. If a vassal
set up residence nearby, the name would be applied to
his vill and so to the later parish.
list below gives the Ayrshire parishes of the period,
up to the time of the Reformation, along with the date
they were first mentioned. (14,15)
Those in Dillon's list are marked
with an asterisk and it is quite easy to separate them
into his 'ton', 'kil/kirk' and 'other' groupings.
pre-1501 - a pendicle of Ayr
pre-1165 & Ladykirk (a chapel within Monkton)
late 12th century
pre-1501 - a pendicle of Ayr
13th century or earlier
pre-1501 - a pendicle of Ayr
(Ballantrae) 13th century
pre-1501 - a pendicle of Ayr
(Innergarvane) and its chapel of Kirkdominie pre-1236
shows, the location of the churches helps to provide
additional evidence for certain routes or suggests other
a more local level, there would have been tracks from
farms to the central point of the vill. As churches
were usually found there, these tracks would serve for
this purpose as well. As an example of a local track,
there is an intriguing reference in a c.1290 charter.
It mentions a holloway just east of Dundonald which
seems to have been the route to Symington.
Dundonald was where the main vassal for Kyle had a major
stronghold and Symington was originally Simon's ton.
As a holloway, essentially a track loosened by the passage
of traffic and eroded by rain takes considerable time
to form; this could have been an early route. It could
even date back to the dark ages and Aeron because of
the association with the stronghold at Dundonald. As
mentioned in the last section, an old road was traced
between Dundonald and Troon. There, it was suggested
it might date from the Dark Ages but given the prominence
of Dundonald in mediaeval times, it could be from this
Another important reason for making journeys was taking
the corn to the local mills - tenants were usually required
to do this as one of the conditions of tenure. In a
study of the cornmills of Ayrshire, James Wilson gives
much detail of these mills, including the early ones.
As examples of mills that can be dated to this period
Monk's Mill - linked to Fail\Mill O'Shiel - 1300s
- mentioned in 1373
Mill - 14/15th Century
O'Ness - mentioned in 1359.
is of course difficult to know where these tracks were
as it is not until Pont's maps of circa 1600 that we
have a clear idea of what farms existed at that time
- prior to that we can only use occasional mentions
in records. Even then it would require considerable
research to identify which mills were used by which
point of relevance to Ayrshire is that Paisley Abbey
had the lands between the Maich and Calder so that it
is highly likely that the route using the toll point
of Maich must have come through here - the Ayrshire
boundary is at the Maich. There was a bridge at Brigend
(in Lochwinnoch) over the Calder said to have been mentioned
in the Rental Book in 1525 (NMRS
record), although at the present day it is much
altered. It is also shown on Pont's manuscript map of
the 1590's (he also shows another bridge downstream,
nearer to Lochwinnoch) and it is certainly tempting
to assume it was built by the abbey to serve their lands.
One implication of Paisley holding these lands is that
is that if they journeyed from here to Paisley, it must
have been possible for those using the toll point of
Maich to do this as well.
Paisley also had holdings in Ayrshire in Monkton and
Prestwick and Dalmilling, prior to those lands being
passed to Crossraguel Abbey. Again, journeys can be
assumed although the routes they would have used are
Hall notes a grange at Auchengrange about 4 km north
of Beith (Derek Hall, Scottish Monastic Landscapes,
page 134). It is about 1 km outwith the Ayrshire boundary
but its location suggests an easy route to Paisley,
perhaps from Beith itself.
Note: For more information about
Paisley Abbey and its holdings, mostly in Renfrewshire,
the records of Kilwinning Abbey have been lost. They
were collected assiduously in the 19th century for publication
in the collections of the Ayrshire and Wigtonshire Archaeological
Association but were lost at the demise of that organisation.
can, however, find mentions here and there of lands
that belonged to the abbey and can, to a certain extent,
presume that the parish boundary will reflect in places
the boundaries of some land grants, given examples from
elsewhere - see for example, Maybole below. Indeed Cowan
(18a) notes that
they had the whole parish with the exception of the
lands of Eglinton and Montgreenan. They also had land
in Beith and a few properties elsewhere.
was a track in the mid 1500's to Goldcraigs (about 2 miles
NE of the abbey near Monkreddan) as the Abbey had a quarry
there and the abbey had three mills to which their tenants
had to take their corn: beside the bridge in the town;
Craigmill near Dalry (on Caaf Water, 1 km SSW of town);
and Seven Acres Mill in the north-east of the estate.
Mill (2 miles north of Kilwinning) had also belonged
to Kilwinning; it was known as "the walkmyln of Groatholm".
There was also a route to Irvine as they had a house there
for conducting business. In 1439 the Abbot of Kilwinning
received Based on 1935 OS map. With thanks.
permission from the Pope to collect monies to build
map shows some likely routes though the actual network
would have undoubtedly been more extensive.
the early 13th century, Duncan, later Earl of Carrick,
granted some lands including Crossraguel along with
the churches of Dailly, Straiton and Turnberry to Paisley
Abbey. This however was on condition that Paisley found
a monastery in the area and to which these endowments
was slow in complying with this condition and it was
only towards the end of the century that Crossraguel
was built and became a fully functioning abbey. Its
relations with Paisley were always difficult.
abbey was on the pilgrim route to Whithorn, where travellers
could stop and rest. We can assume considerable movement
to and from the abbey, particularly in regard to lands
that it owned. The map below is based on that shown
in the Charters of Crossraguel
which shows principal places mentioned in the various
charters, and is suggestive of several routes.
owned by Crossraguel Abbey
Reproduced from 1935 Ordnance Survey map. © Crown
The cluster to the west of Maybole suggests a fairly
direct route to the abbey (an annual court was held
at Auchenblane near to the abbey) while those farms
near Dailly may have had a route over the hills where
there were later routes and where the walking would
have been relatively easy. The cluster north of Girvan
would have found access to the abbey easy by going through
Kirkoswald or keeping to the high ground. South of the
Water of Girvan is more speculative but routes through
Girvan, Old Dailly, and Dailly are possible. Five churches
belonged to the Abbey, viz. Girvan, Ballantrae, Straiton,
Dailly and Kirkoswald and these also suggest routes.
There were mills at Crossraguel itself and at Drumgarloch
(probably on Lady Burn, 2 miles south of Turnberry -
map) - one or other of these mills had to be used
particular interest is the fact that coal mining was
carried out at Yellowlee, thought to be near Craigoch,
four miles south of Maybole and about the same distance
religious house was founded in the mid-1200s by an order
dedicated to the release of those captured in the Crusades.(20a,
20b) Although not a monastery,
it had considerable lands in the area and journeys to
outlying farms can be assumed. Two connections with
roads are that there was a spittal here on a likely
route from Galston to Ayr where travellers could rest
and that the "Monk's Road" ran from Mauchline to the
vicinity of Fail (see below).
|The Monk's Tower, Mauchline
Throughout the middle ages, the monks of Melrose were
gifted considerable tracts of land in central and eastern
Ayrshire. An administrative centre was set up in Mauchline
to manage the large estate. The account books for 1527-1528
survive and contain references to travel.
The area was fairly well settled with nearly 40 named
homesteads and these are strongly suggestive of tracks
or routes to Mauchline perhaps in some cases on older
lines. To the east one would suspect two routes, one
linking those living up the Greenock Water, and the
other linking those on the upper reaches of the Ayr.
From Greenockton, where there was a tower, a route north
of the Ayr would bring them to the cluster near Sorn
and the nearby mills, and Mauchline itself. To the north,
two or three fairly short routes could be postulated
and the same to the south and west.
was regular contact with Melrose and a number of local
men were employed as messengers by the Chamberlain to
undertake business journeys on his behalf to Glasgow,
Lanark, Irvine, Ayr, Loudoun, Crossraguel, Dunure, Ardmillan,
Cassilis, Dunscore, Melrose, Edinburgh and Dunfermline.
In 1521, a load of fish was brought in from Irvine which
implies a track capable of taking carts. Of particular
interest is a charter quoted by Sir William
Fraser, in Volume 3 of the Douglas Book that records
a dispute over a right of way through the Douglas valley
in the late 1200s. Melrose had a centre at Tordones,
which must be Tardoes in Muirkirk, from where they took
produce to Melrose by Douglas, Uddington and Wiston.
Sir William Douglas challenged their passage through
his lands but lost in favour of the abbey. For more
details see here.
The area, known as the Barony of Kylesmure, was so
extensive that chapels of ease were created at Dalgain
(Sorn) and Moorkirk (Muirkirk).
paper by James P Wilson (AANHAS) gives an account of
a road said to have run from Mauchline over to the lands
of Barmore and Godeneth, gifted to the abbey by Richard
Wallace of Riccarton in the 13th century.
These lands were near Fail. Unfortunately he does not
give references so it may be he is reporting a local
tradition. There was a road along the route he describes
which is shown on the Military Survey map of c.1750
but this does not necessarily mean that it was built
by the monks as it could have been built under the statute
labour system. In principle, however, it is a possibility,
especially given the abilities in road building of the
Course of the "Monk's
Road", as shown on the Military Survey map
of c.1750. Based on 1925 1" OS map.
With thanks. The
highlighted section near Millburn is shown on
the "Tarbolton Map" which can be seen
in Tarbolton library. This consists of a number
of 6" map sheets covered with handwritten
notes on features of interest in the parish including
genealogical notes and extracts from charters.
Road related entries include the route taken for
the funeral cortege of William Burns that followed
the road from near Millburn to Fail, a robbery
in 1692 on the highway between Colmonell and Girvan
in the moor of Aldowers, and details of earlier
bridges at Gadgirth and Tarholm.
boundaries given in the charters are difficult to identify
although Barmuir farm exists today. For our purposes
we only need to know that they were to the east of Fail
(the boundaries have now been identified - see Tracking
down a lost parish, Gilbert Márkus, 2009). The course
of the road as given by Wilson was from a ford at Fail
(south of the sharp bend at Redrae) and then running
south of the present road past Mosside (where Roy and
Thomson show a distinctive turn - probably the same
as that shown on present day maps). Beyond Mosside,
it must have been on or near the present road and then
the track (see photo) south of Millburn where any trace
is lost. From here, it seems to have run over to near
Mossbog and then taken the line of the modern road past
Skeoch and Mossgiel to Mauchline.
|The remaining section of the"
It is likely that this was the correct route as it
is the same as the road shown on Roy and a section lifted
by the 4th Duke of Portland about 1800 was from near
Largie (just above Ladyard) past Mossbog to the high
ground south of Millburn. Here the owner of Millburn
blocked him but he continued the removal of the road
half a mile further on between the Long Wood and Mosside.
Wilson says that the road here ran at an angle through
the fields and that the rest of the road was lifted
about 50 years later.
is not known when the road was built but could easily
have been as early as the 1400's. It does raise the
question as to whether any other roads near Mauchline
had their origins at this time and if they were actually
Melrose had also been granted extensive holdings
in the Maybole area as well as saltpans on the coast.
These were initially at Greenan and later near Turnberry.
The Maybole territory lay to the north of the town where
even today the placenames of Grange and Monkwood survive
to indicate this. They were also granted the territory
of Bethoc, now Beoch, and lands along the coast near
to Largs (Largis) and Dunduff.
|Melrose lands in Maybole. Based
on 1914 half-inch OS map. With thanks.
our point of view these charters are interesting because
they mention three roads (via), one of which was a wagon
road, as well as a path (semita). However, parts of
the charters are very difficult to interpret both because
of their vagueness and placename changes which makes
it difficult to determine the course of the roads with
any exactitude. The charters are detailed below with
some notes on problems with their interpretation and
on the possible location of the roads.
|Looking towards the Howmuir
The Maybole boundaries ran as follows:
Charter 29 "from
the head of the burn which descends from Crumden
down as far as Culelungford and as the same burn
descends from Culelungford to the polnetiber and
as the polnetiber falls into the Doon. And by
the Doon upwards as far as where polygarroh falls
in the Doon and so upward by the polnegarrah as
far as a little moss* and thence to a certain
syke which descends from the southern part of
the same moss to the polnegarrah and by that syke
upwards as the same syke ascends to the polnecgarrah
and polnecgarrah ascends in Duvah and then up
by the syke to the road which is called Enahconecal
and by the same road down as far as the burn which
descends from the previously mentioned Crumder."
scilicet a capite burne que descendit de Crumder
deorsum usque in Culelungford et sicit eadem burna
descendit de Culelungford in polnetiber et sicut
polnetiber cadit in Don, et per Don sursum usque
ut polgarroh cadit in Don, et sic sursum per polnegarrah
usque ad parvulam mossam*, et in usque sicum quendam
que descendit ex australi parte eiusdem mosse
in polnegarrah, et per eundem sicum sursum usque
ut idem sicum ascendit in polnegarrah, et polnecogarrah
ascendit in Duvah, et inde per sicum sursum usque
ad viam que voacatur Enahconecal, et per eandem
viam deorsum usque ad burnam que descendit de
(note: the road is also mentioned
in charter 190, page171 although written as Euauchouegas)
Charter 30 This reads as charter 29 as far as
*(little moss). It continues:
the fact that on the southern part of the same
moss a certain sike descends into the polgarroh,
and by the same sike upwards until it ascends
to Polcogarrah and from polcogarrah to Dufah between
Meibothelbeg and Meibothelmore, and from the same
Dufah by a certain syke which ascends to another
moss and from the head of that syke crossing that
same moss and by another syke which goes by the
southern part of Brockelaue to a road and by the
same road up to a wooded valley which ascends
from the previously mentioned Crubder and by the
same valley as far as where that valley descends
Notandum autem quod in parte australi eiusdem
musse descendit sicus quondam in polgarroh, et
per eundem sicum sursum usque dum idem sicus ascendit
in Polcogarrah et polcogarrah ascendit in Dufah
inter Meibothelbeg et Meibothelmor. et de eodem
Dufah per sicum quendam que ascendit in aliam
mossam, et a capite sici illius per transversum
illios mosse, et a mossa illa sicut aliam sicum
in parte australi de Brockelaue ascendit in viam
et per eandem viam sursum usque ad nemorosam valle
que ascendit de predicto Crubder et per eandem
valle usque ut eadem vallis descendit in Crubder.
Liber Melros, Vol.1,
29, page 20,
Charter 30, page 22
T. Gray (Maybole,
Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks - on Maybole
website) identifies the placenames of the charter and
says that the lands ran down a stream (presumably Garryhorn
Burn) from Crumden which he says was near the rifle
range north of Trees as far as Culelungford which he
places near Garryhorn Farm. The Polnetiber can only
be the Culroy Burn which flows into the Doon at Auchendrane.
The boundary then follows the Doon upstream where the
Polnegarrah, using the parish boundary as a clue, must
be the Chapelton Burn. It followed this up to a "little
moss" which Gray places between Laigh Smithston
and Laigh Grange - a marshy area is shown on the Military
Survey south of Laigh Grange. The Duvah of the charter
may have been near Slateford. The boundary then continued
in a westerly direction to Crumden.
the apparent clarity of the charters, it is difficult
to determine where this road ran other than that it
was near Brochloch, Trees and Enoch. The name "Enahconecal"
is strongly suggestive of Enoch although this would
take it away from Crumden. Another possibility is that
as aonach means high in Gaelic it may have been a road
leading to high ground. The road and track leading from
Maybole over to Kirkbride near the coast could be consistent
with the section of the second charter that talks about
the road leading up to the stream above Crumden, with
the boundary then following the Garryhorn Burn downstream
lands of Bethoc ran from:
Charter 29 "Lemenelung
eastwards by the road as far as Neskecokeri and
from there eastwards to a great spread of willows
and from thence downwards from the northern part
of Croah parvi to Gallan and from there eastwards
to a syke which goes from the northern part of
the black rock and from the same sike to the place
which is called Tundregaith where from this syke
to a certain river which is called Polnesalahart
and from there as the same river falls into the
Scilicet a Lemenelung versus orientem per viam
usque Neskecokeri, et inde versus orientem usque
ad magnam massam de salicibus, et inde deorsum
ex aquilonali parte Croah parvi usque ad Gallan,
et inde versus orientem usque ad sicum que vadit
ex aquilonali parte niger rupis et per eundam
sicam usque ad locum que vocatur Tunregaith ut
de ipso sico exit Rivulus quondam que dicitur
Polnesalahart, et inde usque ut idem Rivulus cadit
Charter 30 This has a different wording:
"namely, as the road goes to Scipsate, and
by the same road to a syke which goes by the middle
of a moss to the head of Altecreve, and from thence
to the road which goes beyond Altecreve, and from
that road to the syke which climbs from the northern
part of Cragan and by the same syke to the place
called Tundregaid and from the same sike exiting
into a certain river called polsalacharic, and
as that stream flows into the Polnetybered."
Scilicet sicut viam vadit ad Scipsate et per
eandem viam usque ad sicum que vadit per mediam
mussam usque ad capud de Altecreve et inde usque
ad viam quae itur ultra Altecreve, et de illa
via usque ad sicum que ascendendo vadit ex aquilonali
parte de Cragan, et per eundem sicum usque ad
illum locum que vocatur Tundregaid ut de ipso
sico egreditur quondam Rivulus quae dicitur polsalaharic,
et inde sicut idem Rivulus currit usque in Polnetybered.
Liber Melros,Vol.1, Charter
29, page 20, Charter 30, page
|Near Beoch, looking towards
There are so many difficulties in interpreting these
two charters that it is probably best not to speculate
where the boundaries and the road ran. A couple of points
can be made however. Although the wording is different
in each, they are probably describing the same lands.
Certainly the latter parts of each charter seem the
same and with one or two substitutions the first parts
seem the same, for example, Neskecokeri and Scipsate
which have a road going to them, the moss and the willows,
Croah parvi and Altecreve.
Another point is the location of Tundregaith. Gray
places it on the Sauchrie Burn (polsalacharic) yet early
maps (see NLS
Ayrshire) show a place near Drumshang called variously
Tonrach, Tannergie, Tonraghe and Tundergree. Croah parvi/Altecreve
looks very much like Croy and Gallan looks like Culzean.
Cragan or the "black rock" (niger rupis) could
be Blacktop Hill (which is very close to the headwaters
of the Sauchrie Burn) though the possibility that it
could be Brown Carrick Hill or Brown Craig has to be
kept in mind.
In general terms, given that the following charter
clearly deals with land north-west of Beoch, roughly
north of the Sauchrie Burn over to Dunduff, the above
charters must cover land south of this line and more
directly west of Beoch. The boundary to the south, or
more properly the south-east should be that given in
the Maybole charter, viz. down the Garryhorn Burn.
Finally a key point has to be the location of Lumenelung,
which Gray identifies as the "Spout of Lumling",
somewhere on Howmuir. There are several springs and
waterfalls in that area but it is not clear which it
Drumeceisuine, Alesbruc and Auchnephur
This was a charter in the time of William (1165
- 1214). The boundaries were:
"as a burn descends from
the moss which is between Largas and Bethoc and
divides between Dunduff and Drumceisuine and by
the same burn as far as that place that the same
burn falls into the sea and from there by the
shore to Alesburc and from Alesburc to a syke
which descends from the wood on the eastern part
of the wagon road and climbs to Auchnepur and
by the same sike ascending by a certain deep valley
as far as a certain old fortress and from the
eastern side of the same old fortress by a sike
up to Gilliforde and from the northern part of
the source and passing over upwards as far as
a sike which runs from the northern part of Fanilee
and up by a syke to a path (semita) and by that
path up to the head of a sike which falls into
the polnesalahi to Havenegaith."
Scilicet sicut una burna descendit de mussa que
est inter Largas et Bethoc, et dividit inter Dunduf
et Drumceisviene et per eandem burnam usque ad
illum locum ut eandem burna cadit in mare et inde
per litora maris usque ad Alesburc, et de Alesburc
usque ad sicum que descendit de nemore ex orientali
parte vie quadrigarum ascendentis ad Auchnephur
et per eundem sicum ascendendo per quondam profundam
vallem usque ad quondam veterum castellum, et
ex orientali parte eiusdem veteris castelli per
sicum sursum usque ad Gilliforde ex aquilonali
parte fontis, ex inde sursum per sicum usque ad
semitam, et per semitam sursum usque ad capud
sici que cadit in polnesalahari ad havenegaith.
Liber Melros, Vol.1 Charter
31, page 24
|Looking towards the top of Sauchrie
only recognisable placenames are Largs, Dunduff and
the Sauchrie Burn. However, we know the boundary reached
the coast by a stream that served as a boundary between
Dunduff and Drumceisuine and climbed up again by another
to reach an old fort. The only fort in the area is 200
metres WSW of Dunduff Castle. If the valley was the
one to the west of the fort this could be consistent
with the track that runs between Maybole and Kirkbride
being the "wagon road". There are a couple
of stream east of the fort that could have led up to
"Gilliforde", which name implies a track.
The path that the charter mentions must have been near
the headwaters of the Sauchrie Burn nearby, though its
orientation is uncertain.
said, there is a great deal of ambiguity about the charters
and the above interpretations are quite speculative.
There is, however, a hint that the present day road
and track running from Maybole to Kirkbride may have
existed at that time. Although it does not appear on
maps until Thomson in 1820 and then only from Maybole
to the Garryhorn Burn, strictly speaking this is not
proof that it did not exist at an earlier time, i.e.
"the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
It does have a logic in the context of the Anglian settlement
of the Maybole area especially as Alesburc (cf. Brooke)
is mentioned and Kirkbride could easily have served
settlements in the coastal area.
their book, Melrose Abbey (Tempus Publishing, 2008),
Richard Fawcett and Richard Oram, make the interesting
suggestion that Melrose may have driven cattle and sheep
down from Mauchline to their lands in Nithsdale (Dunscore)
and onwards to Dumfries and Carlisle - the abbey had
other properties in Dumfriesshire that could have been
used as staging points for these journeys. Their idea
is based on a charter of 1250 giving Melrose the right
to pass through the lands of Dalswinton and Duncow with
their cattle and carriages. If the way was damaged by
flooding or their wagons they could repair it "per
fossas and calceas) - the term calceia implying a "made"
Melros, vol. 1, charter 319, page 280).
natural assumption is that this right of passage was
for journeys to and from Melrose along the old Craik
Cross Roman road which would be easily reached by a
ford at Dalswinton and crossing over to Lochmaben and
then up Dryfesdale. However, as Fawcett and Oram show,
it could easily have been in order to facilitate movement
from Mauchline to Dumfries and Carlisle.
direct route from Mauchline would have been down the
Nith valley from where Dunscore could easily be reached.
The Nith would have been forded at Dalswinton for onward
and Keresban (Carsphairn)
the early 1200's Thomas Colville rented a large tract
of land in present day Dalmellington and Carsphairn
to Vaudey Abbey in Lincolnshire. Vaudey found it difficult
to manage, mentioning problems with the native population
and came to an agreement with Melrose. It is noteworthy
that Vaudey obtained permission from Henry III to import
grain from Ireland for their needs which indicates their
use of the "pack road" down to the Solway
coast (see The Ayr-Kirkcudbright
turn, Melrose managed the land and as Fawcett and Oram
(Melrose Abbey, Tempus Publishing, 2008) suggest, may
have exploited the area for coal, iron and lead. After
only a few years they negotiated an exchange for land
in the Lammermuirs, perhaps because Carsphairn was too
is not at all clear what routes they would have used.
If there was contact with Maybole the easiest route
would probably have been over to Straiton perhaps by
one of the old hill tracks that come out south of Straiton
itself. If the main contact was with Mauchline there
would be fairly direct routes over towards Cumnock or
perhaps the old route to Littlemill. These suggestions
are of course speculative, though there must have been
contact with one or the other. Also speculative is any
link with the road that ran near Windy Standard (see
The Ayr - Kirkcudbright Road)
although again there must have been a route or routes
that they used in the short time they were in the area
- certainly the "pack road" could easily have
been used both to reach Ayr and the Solway.
is a fairly common placename in Scotland and can denote
either a hospital or a hostel, that is, a place where
travellers could rest from their journeys. As such they
are an indication of an associated route and are often
found beside fords and bridges where a traveller could
wait if the river was in flood. Religious establishments
usually provided them as a pious act.
In Ayrshire there were a number of spittals, five of
which are mentioned in historical documents and four
others which are conjectured.
Three are near fords - Kincase on the old shore road
between Irvine and Ayr, near to the Pow Burn; Doonslee
between Ayr and the Doon near a ford over the Slaphouse
Burn; and Failford. There were also spittals at Symington
and Maybole. These are strong indications of old routes
between Irvine and Ayr, a north-south route running
through Ayr, and one over to Lanarkshire via Fail, Galston
and the Irvine valley.
not verified are Mauchline, Irvine, Stewarton and Kilmarnock
although that at Stewarton is near Kingsford where there
may have been an old route. It also has to be noted
that not all spittals catered for travellers although
it is likely enough that those mentioned above, being
so close to routes, did have this function.
pilgrim route was northwards towards Govan where there
was a shrine to St Constantine at Govan, Paisley with
St Mirrin and Glasgow with St Mungo. It is likely that
David I promoted the veneration of Mungo to take attention
away from Govan which had been a centre of the British
kings of Strathclyde. (24)
These imply a route either up the Garnock or over the
moors near Fenwick.
other route (more properly routes as there seems to
have been two or three) was to Whithorn in the south.
It was certainly well established by the 1300's when
Crossraguel, a daughter house of Paisley was set up
in 1244 on the route where pilgrims could rest.
above the present bridge over the Stinchar at Colmonell
may have been an early bridge for pilgrims. Drochat
is from the Gaelic drochaid meaning bridge and Reid
says that there were a number of wooden bridges over
the Bladnoch, west of Wigton, primarily for the use
of pilgrims, which were swept away by floods in 1441.
Margaret, Countess of Galloway, obtained a Papal Indulgence
for those who assisted her to build a stone bridge.
clues to the route or routes to Whithorn are two occurences
of Killantringan (St Ninian's Church). One is a loch
near the head of Glenapp on the Girvan-Stranraer road
near Auchencrosh (Field of the Cross). The other is
a farm (NX 262811) on the Girvan-Newton Stewart Road
(which did not exist at that time). McQueen suggests
a 12/13th century date and surmised they may have been
chapels for pilgrims.
(26) There was also a chapel
of St Ninian near Ardstinchar Castle. The farm on the
Girvan-Newton Stewart road is about 6 miles north of
the Laggangarn Standing Stones (NX 222716) on which
Christian crosses are inscribed. These stones are thought
to have been on one of the pilgrim routes which in the
middle ages at least probably led to Glenluce Abbey
where they would get shelter and food on their journey.
Lepers from the abbey are said to have travelled to
the Well of the Rees just a few hundred metres north
of the stones to drink its restorative waters. This
would make the route hereabouts on or very close to
the Southern Upland Way. There are similar marked stones
on the "pack road" south of Carsphairn.
important factor affecting the network of routes was
the creation of more burghs throughout the middle ages.
Pryde gives full details of the burghs and the economic
rivalry between them and Ayr and Irvine. (27)
They obtained local trading rights
at the expense of Ayr and Irvine, and so encouraged
local journeys to their weekly markets. Burghs dating
from this time are Newmilns in 1490, Auchinleck in 1507
(although it remained a burgh only on paper - a "parchment
burgh"), Cumnock in 1509 and Mauchline in 1510, although
it seems to have had trading rights much earlier than
this because of the connection with Melrose Abbey. Maybole
became a burgh in 1516, Kilmaurs in 1527, Saltcoats
in 1529 (delayed until 1576) and Ballantrae in 1541
(also delayed for a few decades). Finally there was
Kilmarnock in 1591-2 and Largs in 1595. It was known
as Newtoun of Gogo and Pryde refers to a market near
the church where "Irishmen, natives and strangers were
wont to gather" prior to the formation of the burgh.
Such unofficial markets seem to have been quite common.
As an aside, Barbour in his Life of Bruce refers to
a journey up the coast past Largs, and Inverkip castle
being "wel stuffit wi' Inglischmen".
is unlikely that the markets associated with these burghs
would have been responsible in themselves for roads
but taken in conjunction with trips to the church, the
local mill and the town itself would have been a factor
in the growth of local networks. As noted, laws were
passed in 1555 and 1592 about impeding travellers on
highways to burghs and ports. (13)
useful source for roads of the late 1500's and early
1600's are the maps of Timothy
Pont, which were published in atlas form in 1654
by the Dutch cartographer Blaeu. The survey, however,
was carried out earlier than this, and that of Ayrshire
probably dates from the 1590's. Although he does
not show any roads for Ayrshire he does include
river crossings, whether ford or bridge, and provides
a host of placenames some of which refer to roads
or at least tracks. There are also lists of distances
between places which have survived and although many
date from the 1640's when work on the Blaeu Atlas
was progressing some were recorded by Pont. These
lists are quite different in character from other entries
which lists places in relation to other nearby
places. It is highly likely that these lists entail
routes between these places: the known mileages must
have been gained from actual travel and there would
be little point in knowing the distances between places
unless people were travelling between them. In addition,
some of the entries list intermediate points between
centres as if they were on a route, and there are entries
like "five miles from Maybole on the way to the Chapel
(near Stranraer), three standing stones in the highway,
and on the way to Largs."There is a reference
to two routes between Glasgow and Irvine and that one
was shorter than the other and also references to milestones
north and south of Ayr. In any case there is often evidence
from other sources to support the idea of a network
of routes at this time and Pont himself on his original
maps shows bridges and fords that could only have been
used for travel. These sources are dealt with below.
A summary map is provided below - as the routes are
based on the lists of distances some routes that may
have existed at the time (for example Dalmellington
- Ayr) are not shown.
in the early 1600s based on lists of distances and showing
route indicators from Timothy Pont's maps
from the 1935 Ordnance Survey map. © Crown copyright
River crossings shown are as follows:
Glen Water near to Bankhead Farm above present day
a crossing of the Carmel Water near Kilmaurs
across the Irvine at Greenholm
two crossings over the Cessnock Water in Galston
a crossing near Mauchline
"Bridgend" over the Doon, probably Alloway Bridge
a crossing over the Ayr near the present bridge
close to Mauchline Creamery
the bridge at Ayr
"Bridgend" on the Burnock Water, a couple of miles
south of Ochiltree. This is presumably near the
ford at Barquharrie Farm
five bridges over the Curtecan Burn south of Ayr
a crossing just north of Ochiltree
two crossings near Martnaham Loch
a crossing over the Girvan Water at Girvan, with
a "Bridgend" on the north side and a "Brigend" on
crossings both east and west of Cassilis (NS332129)
at Burnmouth on the present Kirkmichael road and
near Netherton just south of Dalrymple
a bridge at Irvine
a bridge over the Water of Girvan. This is near
the present Aird Bridge on an early route from Maybole
a crossing at Kilwinning
a crossing at Milton near Straiton over the Water
a crossing at Dalry
Bridgend, near Belston
a crossing north of Kilmarnock, probably the ford
near Dean Castle
these we can infer several routes, viz:
Water (NMRS record) It is not certain where the
roads were in the vicinity of Loudoun Hill at this time.
This bridge (it may have been a ford in Pont’s day)
certainly suggests that it itself was on the main east-west
route. There is a ford beside it -McLeod in the Book
of Old Darvel refers to an old grass-grown cart road
above the ford over the Glen Water.
This ties in quite well with the holloways at
Allanton Plains leading towards the Loudoun Hill area
where there was a fording point on the Irvine just north
of Wallace's Knowe. The road could then have gone south
of the hill heading for the Glen Water but could equally
have gone just north of the hill which is on a more
direct route. What tells against this slightly is that
Wallace used the fort (south of the Irvine) for his
ambush at the Windy Wizzen on the present A71 which
implies the orientation of the holloways could just
be coincidental and that the road ran towards the fort
rather than Loudoun Hill - this is the course that would
be expected in Roman times anyway. From there it could
have crossed at Passford (not shown on Pont) and headed
up past Henryton to the Glen Water crossing.
is no trace of the Glen crossing on Roy and Armstrong
who both show the road as running from Priestland past
Gorsebraehead and Coathill to join the present A71.
bridge at Darvel. There is an adjacent track leading
to a ford - the stones appear to have been placed
to make it shallower
2. Greenholm To the west, Roy
shows the road running through Darvel and Newmilns to
Galston and beyond, that is, along the line of the A71.
The question is, was this the case in Pont's day, or
did it run along the high ground from the Glen Water,
perhaps towards the old road between Dalwhatswood and
Clearmount? We ask the question because Pont shows a
bridge at Greenholm (Newmilns) which is almost certainly
on the line of the route to Ayr at that time.
If it is, it implies the road ran down from the high
ground and then to the south of the Irvine to Galston
where there were other bridges. Strawhorn's comments
on this are interesting - he suggests a route from Irvine
could have met the Ayr route and that this could explain
why Newmilns existed from an early date; he also suggests
the street layout of Galston is best explained by assuming
the Ayr route was to the south of the river, suggested
in any case by the bridge. By 1750 there is no trace
of this road on Roy's map who shows the Ayr route to
the north of the Irvine, crossing at Galston and then
heading roughly along the line of the present road to
Crossroads and Fail.
3. Galston If the Ayr road ran
to the south of the Irvine there was a bridge near Barr
Castle in Galston and another just to the north of it.
These imply the route went via Woodhead (near the present
Crossroads) and Carnell, with another route heading
Mauchline This is shown just north of the centre of
Mauchline itself and may relate to a route from the
5. Bridgend, Mauchline This
is at the location of the present bridge at Barskimming.
The same crossing point is shown on Roy who has a road
running to Ochiltree.
6. Brigend, south of Ochiltree
Although it would be nice to link this up with Armstrong's
"lost road" between Ochiltree and Littlemill with its
suggestive Rottenrow (route du roi) and Glenconnor (conaire
- a path), it lies over a mile to the south-east of
this route. The most likely spot for his crossing is
just above Burnock Mill and it may just have been for
local needs - there was a Neumill nearby.
North of Ochiltree A crossing is shown very near to
Ochiltree but as it crosses a minor stream rather than
the Lugar and there is a mill on the other side, it
may only be of local significance.
8. Girvan The crossing at Girvan
seems to be near the old bridge which can be seen today
from the new crossing north of the town. Its existence
clearly implies a north - south route. There is a Bridgend
on the north side and a Brigend on the south.
9. Irvine A wooden bridge is thought
to have been built here in the 14th century, later replaced
by the stone bridge which is what Pont would be showing.
Earlier there had been a ford. It may have had more
to do with the town itself than with a long distance
route though it would have provided an alternative route
to Ayr, certainly for the first few miles. Green in
1679 has such a route past Dundonald and Monkton to
Kilwinning This may well be the bridge built in the
mid-1400's by the Abbey. It would have facilitated travel
to Irvine as well as serve local needs but it is difficult
to say if it had wider implications for routes such
as leading to the toll point at Maich.
Dalry It is difficult to tell where it was because of
the mapping but one possibility would be a crossing
of the Garnock north of the Bombo Burn, but south of
the Rye Water. This would place it just east of the
town and would be consistent with his showing of a stream
north of Blair (Bombo Burn). He also shows a "brig"
near here which may have been over the Rye.
Kilmarnock This appears to be over the Fenwick Water
somewhere near Dean Castle. As it is shown entering
the estate it may have been for local use only.
Kilmaurs From the map this seems to have been over the
Carmel Water just south of the mill which is on the
present Fenwick Road. It could be indicative of a road
from Kilmarnock - certainly Roy shows one 150 years
later. Equally, bearing in mind Green's road of 1679
from the Irvine Valley over to Cunninghamhead, it could
be linked to an east-west route.
Crosshouse This crossing is on a logical route between
Kilmarnock and Irvine and there are records of work
on a road in 1695. It must have been very close to the
crossing of the Carmel at Crosshouse.
Stewarton This crossing is of the Annick Water just
short of the present crossing which leads up to Nether
Robertland. Roy has a road from Kilmarnock up to Glasgow
(on the line of the B769) on this alignment so it is
not impossible that this was on an early route to Glasgow.
Bridge This afforded a crossing of the Doon on a
long used route into Carrick and Galloway. He shows
a "Bridgend" at the bridge.
Ayr This is the "old brig", now renovated and used as
Curtecan Burn, Ayr Five crossings are shown and as the
map is of much the same period covered by Strawhorn
it should be possible to relate the crossings to the
roads mentioned above. Starting from the coast, the
first crossing is probably the shore road where a new
bridge was built in 1546. The next crossing must be
on the road between Alloway and Ayr. The third is just
downstream of a confluence of the Curtecan and another
burn which would place it just north of Rozelle Park
- it is hard to tie this to any of the roads. The fourth
is also hard to identify. It seems to have been roughly
on the line of the present Dalmellington Road but it
is the fifth bridge which may have been on the Dalmellington
road of the time which Strawhorn says ran past Abbothill
and Mosshill, i.e. a few hundred metres north-east of
the present road.
Two crossings near Martnaham Loch One is shown crossing
to an island, the other is at the east end of the loch.
Cassilis Two crossings are shown near Cassilis House,
south of the River Doon and near to Dalrymple. They
are shown crossing streams rather than the Doon and
so are likely to be of local significance only, perhaps
tracks to mills. One is close to the present bridge
north of Burnmouth (NS332128), the other over the stream
near Barnsford (NS354135).
Aird Bridge, over Water of Girvan The best fit for this
crossing seems to be somewhere near Poundland (one mile
east of New Dailly) on the B741. There is hardly any
doubt that it was part of a Girvan - Ayr route, one
which may have ran from Girvan on the south side of
the river, crossed, and made its way up to Maybole.
If it ran to the north of the river and then crossed
to the south side, it would have had to cross the river
again to get to Maybole.
Milton, near Straiton This is just north of Straiton
and the crossing must have been very near to the present
bridge. The crossing may just have been to allow access
to the mill for those living on the west of the river
but it would have facilitated travel over longer distances.
Roy has a route from here to Crosshill as well as a
route south of Straiton so it is fairly safe to assume
such a route in Pont's time.
Bridgend, near Belston The best fit for the map is at
Bridgend Mains over the Water of Coyle on a minor road
running from Stair to Belston on the A70. Although not
shown on Roy or Armstrong it would have a certain logic
to it as a route between Stair and Ayr. The long ridge
on the north side is very distinctive.
the south of Ayrshire, Pont shows bridges south of Carsphairn
over the Ken and Deugh which helps to confirm the Dalmellington
-Glenkens route and also at Bargrennan where the road
comes down from the Nick of the Balloch.
said, he has a number of placenames which refer to roads,
bridges and fords. Gate, gait, or a variant yett generally
refer to a road and form compounds such as Gateside,
Gatehead or Stonygate. It need not entail that the road
was "made" as it had the meaning of "a way to" so at
this time would probably refer to a track that was defined
sufficiently by people using it to justify the name
of gate. Bridge is another placename which as Bridgend
or Bridgehouse is often at a river. It can also refer
to a causeway across marshy ground and there may be
one or two examples of this use in Ayrshire. Causeway,
causey or calsey implies a made road and Rottenrow is
thought by some to derive from Route Du Roi, so referring
to a King's Highway. Also relevant are ford and path.
Instances of these from Pont's maps are given below.
south of Newmilns, now Stoneygait. This is indicative
of a road between Newmilns (where he shows a bridge)
near Craigie. This must be Gateside just north of Craigie
(NS425334). The later maps of Moll (1725), Kitchin (1740)
and Roy (c.1750) show a route on this line to Ayr so
it is an indication that this route existed around 1600
and possibly earlier. In the middle ages there was a
Galston - Ayr route (A719) which this could have joined
south of Craigie.
near Ochiltree. From Pont's mapping, the presumption
has to be that this was near to Barturk and Cawhillan,
about one mile north west of Ochiltree. A road or track
here in late mediaeval times would be consistent with
the presence of the monks in Mauchline and the river
crossing at Barskimming which Pont shows. Near to Auchinbay
the present road runs through a cutting which might
be a holloway, indicative of long use. A road shown
on Moll's 1718 map passed close to here.
near New Cumnock (NS629145). As the name implies a terminus
this may indicate a route from the farm into New Cumnock.
near Ayr. This is Gateside at NS371211 just east of
the A77 and just north of the A70. Without supporting
evidence it is hard to say much about it. It might be
that shown later on Armstrong but as no crossing is
shown on Pont it may not have run to St Quivox. Another
possibility is that it was on an early line of the Cumnock
road but given that it is on an existing road this is
near Stewarton. This is Gateside about 1˝ miles north
east of Stewarton (NS434480). It is not clear what road
it refers to although it should be noted that Moll in
his map of 1725 shows a north-heading route close to
Zatt, near Stair (NS432243). This
is shown on later maps as Yett which is a variant of
Gate/Gait. Although he doesn't show a crossing at Stair,
the name Stair comes from the Gaelic for a crossing
so there is a distinct possibility that Zatt refers
to a route passing through here to the south.
near Dundonald. In recent years this farm was sited
just above Highfield at NS336343. It may refer to a
track to a field or to Auchens (Pont's Aghans) about
1 kilometre west of Dundonald although it could relate
to a presumed north - south route between Ayr and Irvine.
south of Crosshill. This is shown to the east of Blair
which lies about 3 miles south of Crosshill (NS323026).
In principle it fits well with a route to the south
by the Nick O'The Balloch.
Straiton. This is Highgate Hill just south-east of Straiton.
Although there were several routes in the hills here,
best seen on Arrowsmith's map of 1807, this does not
seem to be one of them unless the track referred to
ran in a north-easterly direction from near Craig over
towards the (later) Straiton - Dalmellington road which
would fit one of Arrowsmith's tracks. Roy doesn't show
a road around 1750, though this is not definite proof
that there was no road.
alternative would be that the "high gate" made its way
south, perhaps at an early date given the Anglian settlement
in the Straiton/Maybole area. It is interesting to speculate
if there was a "low gate" at the same time.
Dalry. It is hard to say where this was. Given his positioning
of Pith (presumably Pitcon) it may have crossed the
Rye Water either near the present bridge north of the
town or at the ford sited at NS298498.
Clarksbrig, near Beith. This
is Clark's Bridge, just north of Beith and would be
on a route giving access to Paisley and Glasgow.
Bridge, Ayr. This was in Ayr,
perhaps near to the old racecourse to the south of the
town. It may have been on one of the routes already
mentioned in connection with Ayr.
Brigend, Coylton. This
is shown to the east of the Water of Coyle, and near
to the old Kirk of Coylton (NS422193). As it is not
shown beside the river we cannot say for definite if
it was a river crossing or a causeway.
near Robertland. No crossing is shown but the name is
suggestive. The location was probably near Laigh/Low
Clunch on the minor road running north from the A77
just before the Galston turn-off. It is close to the
Glanderston route shown on Moll. Bridgehouse, south
of Riccarton. Although he doesn't show a crossing, the
name itself is suggestive and is clearly to be identified
with Bridgehouse near to where the Carnell road crosses
the A77 south of Kilmarnock. This is on or close to
a road shown on Bowles map of 1735 which runs to Mauchline,
as well as a road shown by Moll in 1718 which runs to
- Bridgehouse, Shortlees, Kilmarnock. The name might
fit an early route to Mauchline but this is not certain.
near Carnell. Again no bridge is shown but the name
is suggestive. It lies 1 km south of Crossroads just
west of the A76 on the Cessnock and would fit well with
an early route to Mauchline.
Lawersbridge, near Crosshands.
Although no bridge is shown by Pont it could suggest
an early route between Galston and Mauchline.
Causway, west of Craigie. This is Stone Calsey at NS408325.
Although an intriguing name it is not clear where it
might have been going. It could have been an early route
to Ayr or possibly to Craigie Castle less than 1 kilometre
to the south but neither is definite.
near Ochiltree. This appears on modern maps about 1
mile south west of Ochiltree at NS490190. If it was
a "King's Highway" it would not have been local and
so may have made its way over to Littlemill to join
the route shown on Bowen in 1747 to Patna and the Straiton
area and then south. Alternatively it could relate to
the Riccarton to Sanquhar road shown by Moll in 1718
that passed close to here.
near Crosshands, Mauchline. This is at NS473300. It
could tie in to an early north-south route or even one
from Galston via Lawersbridge (NS491311) perhaps over
towards Stair. Moll in 1718 has a route running south
now Hurlford. This crossing suggests a route from Irvine
up the Irvine Valley and one down towards Cumnock and
Sandifurd, near Ayr. This is
shown on the Lichtmylburn and may relate to one of the
roads already dealt with.
north of Ayr. This is Sandyford where the Galston -
Ayr road (A719) joins the A77 and is likely to have
been a crossing point on the Galston - Ayr route.
near Dundonald. He shows this north of the castle but
not on the stream that runs north from here to the Irvine.
It may refer to a route into Irvine.
near Fenwick. This was very close to present Marchbank
(cf. Roy) at NS463418. If the name does mean stony path
it may just have been local, given its location.
north of Kilmarnock. This was just a little south of
present Dalmunsternock at NS456417 (cf.Roy) and may
refer to stepping stones although probably of local
implied by Tables of Distances
routes relevant to Ayrshire are listed below in summary
form. As entries are often duplicated in the originals
these have been removed here. The original texts are
available on the National
Library of Scotland website and in MacFarlane's
Collections, Volume II.
- Castle Semple 10 m
- Chapel (at head of Loch Ryan) 12
||Glasgow - Ayr 24
|Glasgow - Paisley
- Irvine 3 (also 4)
||Glasgow - Paisley
6; Kilbarchan 4; Irvine 12
|Largs - Kilbirnie
||Kilmarnock - Ayr
- Kilmarnock 14; Irvine 4 (mentions that this is
the shorter of the two "ways")
- Irvine 7
||Kilmarnock - Kilmaurs
||Wigton - Ayr 36
|Saltcoats - Kilbirnie
||Irvine - Kilwinning
2; Largs 10 (also 16 Irvine - Largs)
||Wigton - Glasgow
|Castle Semple -
||Newmilns - Kilmarnock
||Maybole - Girvan
- Cumnock 8
||Kilmarnock - Mauchline
||Ayr - Lanark 24
(Newmilns said to be halfway)
|Glasgow - Irvine
- Mauchline 7
||Loudoun Castle -
|Irvine - Ayr 7 (also
||Bargeny - Maybole
5 (on the way to the Chappell)
- Hamilton 13
|Ayr - Maybole 6
||Port Patrick - Chapel
4; Ballintrae 12; Maybole 16; Ayr 6; Irvine 8; Glasgow
18. Total 64 miles (note ref to 64 milestones below)
||Loudoun - Lanark
|Maybole - Ballintrae
||Glasgow - Kilmarnock
||Cumnock Castle (New
Cumnock) - Crawfordjohn 8
routes are included on the map and brief notes are as
follows. The order of the entries has been changed where
a route is implied or a location is mentioned more than
- Paisley 6 This is one of the few roads shown in the
Blaeu atlas which must entail that it was a made road
rather than a track.
- Castle Semple 10 m This would have come
via Paisley and gone on to Kilbirnie from where Irvine,
Saltcoats and Largs could be reached. Pont shows two
crossings just west of Howwood that could have been
used to reach the north side of the loch, where Castle
Semple is situated.
Semple - Kilbirnie 8 There would have been
suitable ground for a route on the ridge from Castle
Semple running towards Lochwinnoch. From here it would
have followed the likely old route passing through the
toll point of Maich as far as Irvine.
Castle - Largs 5 Nothing is shown on the
Military Survey but a rough track may have existed.
Castle - Irvine 7 Again nothing is shown on the
Military Survey except south of Kilwinning although
the evidence is probably sufficient, particularly the
toll point of Maich, to assume there was a route.
- Saltcoats 6 The Military Survey has a
road between Saltcoats and Dalry but nothing to Kilbirnie.
Any route in Pont's day may just have been a track.
- Cumnock 8 This route led up from Dumfries
- distances from Dumfries to Sanquhar are given elsewhere
although nothing is given about any onward route to
Ayr or the Kilmarnock area. It is not clear if Cumnock
or Cumnock Castle (New Cumnock) is meant.
Castle (New Cumnock) - Crawfordjohn 8 This
still exists as a track and was used as a drove road
in later years. Crawfordjohn at the time was an important
hub for travellers.
- Irvine 18 The distances below between
Glasgow and Kilmarnock 14 and another 4 to Irvine suggests
this is the route being referred to.
- Paisley 6; Kilbarchan 4; Irvine 12 The
route south of Kilbarchan may have gone via Castle Semple
although on the Military Survey it takes the still existing
road to Lochwinnoch that runs about a mile north of
Castle Semple. Beyond Lochwinnoch it would have ran
to Kilbirnie and then south to Irvine.
- Kilmarnock 14; Irvine 4 (the text mentions that this
is the shorter of the two "ways" - another entry gives
the distance between Kilmarnock and Irvine as 3 miles)
The route was probably through Mearns, Kingswells and
the A77 line to Kilmarnock and then through Crosshouse.
There are later, shorter routes between Irvine and Glasgow,
including through Stewarton but these are not mentioned.
Glasgow - Ayr 24 It
is tempting to assume, despite the difference of one
mile in the totals (23), that this route went south
from Kilmarnock. However, the Portpatrick route below
went via Irvine giving a total of 26. Taking the route
above between Glasgow and Irvine as via Kilmarnock,
the implication is that the route was Ayr - Irvine -
Kilmarnock - Glasgow. This need not necessarily mean
there was nothing between Kilmarnock and Ayr as other
evidence suggests there was. Maps by Moll (1725) and
Bowen (1747) show a route via Craigie.
- Kilmarnock 14 This probably had the approximate line
of the A77 as indicated on the Military Survey up through
Mearns and Cathcart to Glasgow. It would tie in with
two of the three possible locations given for the toll
point of Karin.
- Ayr 9 As noted immediately above,
this may have gone through Irvine.
- Ayr 7 (also 8) The topography suggests much the same
route as other later routes, i.e. more or less directly
southwards. However, Green
in his map of 1679 routes it through Dundonald and the
high ground south of there.
- Kilwinning 2 The Military Survey shows
initially the one route dividing into two routes. The
easterly route runs on a direct line to the mediaeval
bridge at Kilwinning and is likely to be the one mentioned
- Largs 10 The exact wording "Lairgs
on the sea north fra Kilwinning 10 m" suggests
the coastal route.
- Largs 12 (also 16) Presumably it
went via Kilwinning along the coast. A route via Kilbirnie
(from the figures above also totalling 12 miles) is
unlikely as there would have been no need to go as far
north as Kilbirnie
- Maybole 6 Moll in 1725 is the only one
of several early map makers to show a route directly
to Maybole. If this is the one intended on the list
it would have gone via Alloway (with its bridge) and
followed the line of the B7024, which was turnpiked
- Ballintrae 16 Early maps
show a surprising variety of routes between Maybole,
Girvan and Ballantrae and it is very difficult to say
which one is being referred to here in respect of this
and the next two items.
- Girvan 9
- Bargeny 5 (on the way to the Chappell)
- Chapel (at head of Loch Ryan) 12 Again,
different routes are shown though the mention elsewhere
of the Taxing Stanes favours Moll's 1725 route by Glenapp.
The mention of Ballintrae in the list is interesting
as it excludes the alternative Colmonnel route which
is shown on the Military Survey and was turnpiked at
the same time as the coastal route.
Patrick - Chapel 4; Ballintrae 12; Maybole 16; Ayr 6;
Irvine 8; Glasgow 18. Total 64 miles (note reference
to 64 milestones below)
other places are mentioned on the Portpatrick route
although it is not clear if they are stages or part
of a more general description of the countryside around.
- Kilmaurs 1 1/2 The Military Survey shows
this on the line of the modern road, which effectively
is almost the shortest route between the two places.
- Kilmarnock 7 On the Military Survey, this
route ran via Hurlford and Galston at which point it
crossed the Irvine to run to Newmilns. No trace of a
route south of the river is shown beyond Galston. Strawhorn
suggests that there was a route east from Irvine that
ran to Newmilns and beyond, and that Newmilns may have
developed because of the Ayr - Lanarkshire route meeting
it here at the river crossing shown on Pont.
- Mauchline 7 Clarke
and Wilson did some work on routes on this line
and found evidence that would support a road at this
- Mauchline 7 This is supported by the river crossings
shown by Pont in Galston,
and by the placename Lawersbridge.
- Ayr 36 In the 1750's, Roy shows the Wigton
to Ayr route as running via the Nick O'the Balloch and
Crosshill with nothing shown on the possible alternative
route between Bargrennan and Barrhill.
- Glasgow 56 As said, this went via Ayr
in the 1750's. There is a discrepancy in mileage (23
or 24 miles between Ayr and Glasgow as stated elsewhere
as against the 20 implied by this entry) but the mileages
are not always consistent.
- Lanark 24 (Newmilns said to be halfway) He
shows a bridge at Newmilns which along with the placename
Stronygait suggests the route ran south of the Irvine
from Galston to this point. The route then probably
followed the approximate A71 line to Strathaven, then
to Hamilton and Lanark. Strawhorn
suggests that Newmilns grew up because of the Ayr route
meeting one from Irvine on the north side of the river.
Castle - Glasgow 12 This suggests a route
on the A719 line through Moscow and Waterside to join
a Glasgow - Kilmarnock route. Roy's omission of a complete
route between Galston and the Glasgow road in the 1750's
introduces an element of uncertainty in this although
there are instances of incomplete mapping in the Military
- Hamilton 13 It is not clear if Loudoun
Castle or Loudoun Hill is meant in these two entries.
In both cases the easiest route would be along the A71
- Lanark 13 See Ayr - Lanark above.
|Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654
final clue is provided whereby Blaeu's Atlas based on
Pont's maps has a description
of Kyle and Cunninghame. (31)
This has two intriguing mentions of roads.
first is: "Where the royal road runs from Carrick to
Ayr, a bridge of ninety feet with only one arch (and
nowhere else in the whole kingdom is such to be seen)
has been built over this river. At the northern boundary,
the Irvine, which too has a bridge of four arches, divides
it from Cunningham. On the west side this region extends
twelve miles towards the sea; it has a harbour that
is low, flat, and sandy. Where the road stretches between
the Doon and the Irvine, it reaches the heads of Galloway
and Nithsdale; on the west, the heads of Lesmahagow
and Avondale, which are all parts of Clydesdale. On
the west, where it faces the sea, it comprises twenty-two
miles in length, and ten in width. Towards the east
it has two approaches, and these very narrow; the remainder
is taken up with dug clods (called moss by our people)
and heather. That which runs by the River Raudon is
more open; the other by Parish Holm is narrower, allowing
only one person to pass at a time, being crushed between
the mountain and the bogs of the Ayr."
there are difficulties in interpreting this, but it
could be taken as confirmation of some of the main routes
we already know about, viz. one from the south through
Ayr to Irvine, one from Ayr towards Dalmellington, a
route to Nithsdale, one by Loudoun Hill and one by Muirkirk
(Parish Holm lies to the east of this).
second quote relates to Ayr: "This town, founded by
Royal Charter into the Sherrifdom of Ayr, has 32 miles,
looking north and south, under its rule. Now this is
the length of the whole province between the speaking
stone at the defile of the Clyde; and it comprises three
stones erected at Galloway; 64 milestones come under
the power of the city."
The Gowkstone can be seen in
Garden Centre on Mearns Road. The name can refer
to the cuckoo, a fool, or even to "looking"
(gawk). "Speaking stones" occur in other
locations but the meaning of the term is obscure.
it is hard to know what this means but one interpretation
would be that there was a road running from Little Laicht,
north of Cairnryan, where the Taxing Stanes were, up
to the north of the shire. The reference to milestones
is intriguing. There is an old milestone on the now
disused Colmonell - Killantringan road, and others near
Girvan and Ballantrae that look earlier than the usual
is a possibility that the "speaking stone"
is what is now known as the Gowkstone that is near Hazleden
one mile south-west of Mearns. In describing his journey
from Kilmarnock to Glasgow, Bishop
Pococke in his Tours
Through Scotland (32) writes in
1760 that: "The road was for about six miles near
the river, and part of it up the mountain, and having
travelled ten miles we came within six of Glasgow at
the summit on the other side called Haslewood, from
which there is a fine prospect of Glasgow, and all the
country round. On this height is a stone set up on end,
as a mark, it may be, of an ancient burial-place. We
came to the river Carte, which runs in a deep glyn with
rocks on each side adorned with trees, and soon arrived
at the castle of Cath Carte, opposite a little village
called the Brayhead of the Carte, where we crossed the
river." This fits with the route to Glasgow at
that time (cf. Military Survey map) and with the description
"defile of the Clyde" where the view opens
up over Glasgow and part of the Clyde valley. If this
identification of the Gowkstone and the "speaking
stone" is correct, it is further confirmation of
a continuous route in the early 1600's between the Stranraer
area and Glasgow and that the route ran through Mearns
the above, a number of routes can be identified with
some certainty as existing in the middle ages :
Irvine/Kilwinning to Largs This is suggested by the
location of the vills and churches.
2. Mach toll point to Kilwinning,
Irvine and Ayr. Besides the clue given by the toll point
we know that Kilwinning Abbey had a house in Irvine
and a mill near Dalry, as well as a bridge in Kilwinning
from an early date. The presence of spittals on this
route also helps to confirm it.
The church and presumed settlement at Beith imply a
route south to near Kilwinning where the de Morville's
had their stronghold. The same reasoning suggests routes
between the Kilwinning area and Dunlop, Stewarton, Kilmaurs
and possibly Kilmarnock. North of Beith, Pont's Clarksbrig
indicates a route to Paisley.
4. Symington to Dundonald and Troon. This is covered
in the text.
Karnebuth to Ayr. As said, this could be north of Stewarton
where there was a spittal, near to Kingswell close to
the modern A77 or at Carnbooth south-west of Castlemilk.
Whichever is correct there must have been a north trending
route in the area. Pont's crossing at Kilmaurs might
be an indication of its course but against this is the
faint possibility that this crossing and those north
of Kilmarnock relate to the east - west route shown
on Green's map of 1679 which used the Darvel crossing
and ran over to Cunninghamehead. Towards Ayr, the spittal
near Symington and the reference to the magnam viam
ad Ar east of here may well refer to this route. Pont
shows Gateside near Craigie and Stone Calsey which may
indicate another route from Riccarton to Ayr but this
is not certain.
Lowdun to Ayr. Assuming this to be near the boundary
of Ayrshire near Loudoun Hill it probably ran down the
north side of the Irvine Valley, crossing the Glen at
the bridge shown on Pont or a ford hereabouts in the
early middle ages. At Greenholm, near Newmilns, it probably
crossed where Pont shows a bridge and then made its
way past his Stronygait to Galston and then to Ayr.
Certainly by late mediaeval times it would have used
one of the two bridges in Galston that Pont shows. It
is noteworthy that there was a spittal at Fail.
Douglas to Muirkirk to Mauchline. This is suggested
by the journeys made to Melrose from Mauchline as well
as the farms owned by the abbey.
Cumnock - Muirkirk - Douglas. This is included as it
would have afforded a direct route from Ayr towards
9. Mauchline to Fail. This is the Monk's Road.
Mauchline - Irvine. The first part of this route was
the Monk's Road. Given the mention in the Mauchline
Account Books of fish being brought in from Irvine there
is a likelihood that this whole route developed in the
middle ages. There would have been close links between
Dundonald and Irvine in this period.
Galston - Mauchline - Ochiltree This is suggested by
Lawersbridge, the crossings north of Mauchline and at
Barskimming as well as the Gaitsid near Ochiltree. An
alternative, suggested by the road on Moll's map of
1718 is that there was a road from Galston that went
just beyond Crosshands to a place called Dunley that
then ran south near to Ochiltree and a place called
Oygang near Barlosh.
Kilmarnock - Mauchline This is suggested by the two
"Bridgehouse" placenames near Riccarton and Carnell,
perhaps Rotenrow near Crosshands (see 10 above) and
the crossing north of Mauchline
Irvine - Kilmarnock - Irvine valley. It is hard not
to imagine there being a route in the middle ages given
Irvine's importance as a burgh. As noted, Strawhorn
suggests that Newmilns developed where an east-west
road from Irvine on the north side of the river met
with the road going to Ayr by the river crossing here.
The crossing at Crosshouse shown on Pont must be significant.
Croseneton to Ayr. The most likely route would have
been via New and Old Cumnock and then due west to Ayr.
It is interesting to note that the church at Coylton
was served from Ayr so there would have been a route
of sorts between them. Supporting evidence from Pont
is poor. The Brigend at Coylton might fit, as might
his Gaitsyd near Ayr, but neither is certain.
Ayr to Dalmellington and the south. This is suggested
by the church at Dalmellington that was served from
Ayr and the possible identification of Lachtalpen with
Laight Alpin near Dunaskin. In addition, there is an
old road along this line which could be mediaeval or
earlier. Pont shows bridges south of Carsphairn.
Roads near Ayr. These are dealt with in the text.
Ayr to Maybole and the south. Even if we leave aside
the possibility that Lachtalpen was north of Stranraer,
the bridges at Ayr and Alloway are strongly indicative
of a route to the south as is the existence of a Carrick
"port" and Crossraguel Abbey, as well as evidence from
Pont. To an extent the routes south of Maybole are conjectural
but it is hard not to imagine a route to Straiton via
Kirkmichael and one by the Nick O' the Balloch to Whithorn.
Pont's Stoneygait, south of Crosshill and the bridge
at Bargrennan in Dumfries and Galloway help confirm
the latter route. There may also have been a route along
the Water of Girvan as indicated by Pont's crossing
at present Aird's Bridge.
route via Crossraguel is better attested as pilgrims
rested here and there was an early bridge at Girvan.
South of Girvan we have not shown a route through Colmonell
although the placename Bardrochat, indicating a bridge,
Not all the possible routes mentioned in the text are
covered in the list above, particularly the local tracks
and those associated with the later mediaeval burghs.
However, it is enough to show that an extensive network
was in place even quite early in the middle ages and
that it bears a quite close resemblance to the major
routes of later times.
In the next chapter we will look at how the roads developed
over the next century and a half, a period leading to
the turnpikes. As we shall see, the sources of evidence
are few and far between, so that if we were left to
them alone we would think that very little progress
had been made over that time. Fortunately, the Military
Survey of Scotland was carried out about 1750, with
very clear depictions of roads, and shows just how much
progress had been made in that period.
1. R Naismith,
The Story of Scotland's Towns, John Donald, Edinburgh,
2. W J Dillon, The
Origins of Feudal Ayrshire, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series,
Vol 3, 1955
Barbour, Bruce, The Prose Translation, translated
by George Eyre-Todd, 1907, see Book 8, lines 30 and
4. Hendry and Strawhorn,
An Old Road in Loudoun Parish, AANHS Collections, 2nd
Series, Vol.6, 1961
Topographised by Timothy Pont A.M. 1604 - 8, with
Continuations and Illustrative Notices by the late James
Dobie of Crummock, 1876, Glasgow (note: the online version
is an earlier edition by John Fullarton and published
by the Maitland Club in 1858)
W J Dillon, Three Ayrshire Charters, AANHS Collections,
2nd Series, Vol. 7, 1966, p.35
J Keith Joseph, The Avondale Road, in The Roman Occupation
of South-Western Scotland, S N Miller (ed), 1952
8. W J Dillon,
The Streets in Earlier Times, AANHS Collections, 2nd
Series, Vol. 2, 1953
George M'Michael, Notes on the Way Through Ayrshire,
Hugh Henry, Ayr
J Strawhorn, History of Ayr, John Donald, Edinburgh,
11. W Walker,
History of Irvine - Collection of articles which appeared
in the Kilmarnock Standard, see copy in Carnegie Public
A McJanet, Royal Burgh of Irvine, Civic Press, Glasgow,
James Ferguson, The Law of Roads, Streets and Rights
of Way, Bridges, and Ferries in Scotland, Edinburgh,
1904, pps 105-6
W J Dillon, Origins of Feudal Ayrshire, op.cit.
I Cowan, Parishes of Mediaeval Scotland, Scottish Record
Society, Vol.93, Edinburgh, 1967
W J Dillon, Three Ayrshire Charters, op.cit., p.34
James Wilson, The Last Miller, Ayrshire Monographs No
23, AANHS, 2000
J Hay, Kilwinning Parish, 1967, p.2
18a Ian B Cowan,
Ayrshire Abbeys: Crossraguel and Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Collections, Vol.14, No.7, 1986
This is based on the map in the Charters of the Abbey
of Crosraguel, Ayrshire and Galloway Archaeological
Association, Edinburgh, 1886 Volume
II (the map can be found in Volume I)
20a. W J Dillon,
The Trinitarians of Failford, AANHS, Collections, 2nd
Series, Vol.4, 1958
M Sanderson, The Mauchline Account Books of Melrose
Abbey 1527-1528, Ayrshire Collections, AANHS, Vol. 11,
James P Wilson, The Monk's Road to their Lands, AANHS
Collections, 2nd Series, Vol 1, 1950
W J Dillon, The Spittals of Ayrshire, Ayrshire Collections,
AANHS Collections, 2nd Series, Vol. 6, 1961
Yeoman, Pilgrimage in Mediaeval Scotland, Historic Scotland
Wigtonshire Charters, Scottish Hist.Soc, 1960:119
Scottish Studies, Vol. 17, 1973, pt.1
George S Pryde, The Burghs of Ayrshire, AANHS Collections,
2nd Series, Vol. 4, 1958; see also his article Charter
of Foundation which deals with the toll points in AANHS
Collections, 2nd Series, Vol. 2, 1953, page 9
A McLeod, The Book of Old Darvel, Walker and Connell,
J Strawhorn, Newmilns, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series,
Vol. 1, 1950
Alex D Anderson, The Development of the Road System
in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright,1590-1890, DGNHAS,
1967; see also part 2 of this paper, DGNHAS, 1968
Atlas, National Library of Scotland
Bishop Pococke's Tours in Scotland, 1747 - 1760, Edited
by D W Kemp, Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1887,