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Mediaeval Roads: Evidence from Charters

Note: The maps below are based on the 1912, 1911 and 1914 half-inch maps, sheets 19, 20 & 24; and the quarter-inch map sheets 3 & 5, 1923 . With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Coupar Angus Charters

Coupar Angus Charters
Cargill - roads & bridge of Isla Little Blare/Coupirgrange and Mylhorn Carse of Gowrie River Ferries
The Abbey Road Great Blare/Banquhory, and Murehouse Lour Fords
Couper Angus Kinnochtry & Keithick Atholl Alvah, Banffshire
Cowbyre Fothernys/Keithick and Balgersho Drimmie Perth & Dundee
Little Keithick Glenisla Reedie Granges


The gatehouse is all that remains of this once important abbey. It was founded about 1160.

The roads and bridges referred to below are those mentioned in records of Coupar Angus Abbey. Other records will be examined in due course.

While the Coupar records are useful for determining both local routes and routes in Perthshire and Forfarshire, they have to be seen against an assumed network of strategic routes that are not necessarily mentioned in these records.

Among these we know from other sources that there was a route north from the Forth through Fife and over the Ochils to the Bridge of Earn and Perth, as well as one from Stirling north to Perth.

From Perth there was a route to Dunkeld and Blair Athol and then northwards by the Comyn's road to Ruthven and beyond. A route ran east from Perth to Dundee then by the coast to Montrose and the north. Another route to the north went by Brechin to Aberdeen.

Of the abbey itself Franklin explains how after meeting the five requirements of establishing an abbey (land, building materials, fuel, water and food) through various grants, it started to utilise these lands, partly by the monks but mostly by the use of conversi or lay brothers. The very rapid progress led to a "golden age" where land was drained and crop yield vastly improved. Sheep farms were established and by the mid 1200's they had more than 7000 sheep and were exporting the wool to the continent though outbreaks of sheep scab and the English invasions badly affected this. This was one of the reasons for a gradual decline of this "golden age", another being a decrease in the number of lay brothers. This resulted in farms being let out to tenants but the principles of "good practice" established by the monks continued and the income allowed the abbey to function satisfactorily.

In the late 1400's a threat emerged to the abbeys in the form of the "commendam system" where unless they paid high fees to have their own nominees for abbot confirmed, a commendator would be appointed who would then have control of the abbey, its finances and its lands. To avoid this they had to raise funds by feuing out their land to lay lords which gave the new landlords the rights to the income from the land. Often these individuals knew little of farming and wished only to obtain an income by raising rents. Eventually this strategy of feuing failed as there was nothing left to feu and by 1596 the monastery lay in ruins and shortly afterwards the lands were made into a temporal lordship.

So far as roads go, one of the Coupar records refers to three roads running through the parish of Cargill. These allowed for through movement between the abbey lands at Campsey and Keithick. The moor road is probably to be identified as the "Abbey Road" as it was along this that they carried fuel from Campsey, and it fits the topography. There are problems with this road as it may have been conflated with the Roman road that ran through the area. The "middle road" probably had much the line of the present day road past Leyston, and the last ran beside the Isla. Also mentioned is a bridge over the Isla from which it was likely there was a connecting route up to Great Blare, the forerunner of Blairgowrie.

Some of the routes mentioned in the charters. There would also have been routes to Dundee, Perth and probably Forfar and Montrose that were used by the abbey. A considerable network of local tracks linking farms to the granges (shown in red) can be assumed and from each grange to the abbey.

There was a route to Glenisla, when Alexander II gave them free passage through his Forest of Alyth to their farms in this area. There are only one or two possible routes such a road could take and an old packhorse bridge in Alyth may have been built by the abbey. Near to the abbey there was a route north to Monk Myre and local routes to the nearby granges. A couple of roads are mentioned near to Balgersho, but are difficult to identify. To the south there were properties in the Carse of Gowrie for which they had been granted free passage. This was an important right in an area without any public roads though at some point a road between Perth and Dundee seems to have developed, and this ran near their Carse grange. They also built a causeway to Inchyra which suggests their route to the abbey went through Abernyte. There was another grange at Lour, south of Forfar, with a mention of a public road to the town. Again we can assume a route to Coupar.

It is likely enough that there were regular journeys to Perth, certainly by the Campsey route and possibly by the late middle ages by a route that ran through St Martins. Dundee was used to export abbey produce and to bring in necessary materials.

There were some fords, undoubtedly dangerous at times, and a couple of river ferries - the one at Coupar required the boat man to be “suet and gentill, and mak gud seruice to al that cummys without strublans.”


The records referred to below can be found in the Rental Book of Coupar Angus Abbey and the Charters of Coupar Angus Abbey.


The Rental Book was published in two volumes by the Grampian Club in 1879/80 (see contents) and the author was the Rev. Charles Rogers. The Charters were published by The Scottish History Society in 1947 and were transcribed and edited by D E Easson. In his preface he details the links between the two publications. Where there is overlap between the two, references to each are given below.

Other publications that will be found useful are the following:

A History of Scottish Farming, T Bedford Franklin, Nelson 1952. This covers in detail the contribution of the monasteries to farming; much of this is based on the records of Coupar Angus abbey.


Abbey, market and cemetery: topographical notes on Coupar Angus in Perthshire, with a description of archaeological excavations on glebe land by the parish church. Jerry O'Sullivan with contributions by Tanya O'Sullivan & Stephen Carter, Proc SocAntiq Scot, 125 (1995), 1045-1068, fiche 3: G9-14


Topography of Roman Scotland, O G S Crawford, Cambridge University Press, 1949, reprinted 2011
A very readable account of the various Roman remains including the Roman road that is thought to have run through this area, as well as comments on the bridge of Isla and the "Abbey Road."

People of Medieval Scotland website - Coupar Angus charters
Details of charters pre-1314 can be found on the PoMS website.
Amanda Beam, John Bradley, Dauvit Broun, John Reuben Davies, Matthew Hammond, Michele Pasin (with others), The People of Medieval Scotland, 10931314 (Glasgow and London, 2012) www.poms.ac.uk.

Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XXXI, page 70, c.1220

The Moor, Middle and Lower roads between Campsie and Keithick
In settlement of a dispute, William de Munfichet gave Coupar pasture rights at Kerrville (Cargill) beyond the abbey’s lands of Kethec (Keithick) and Camsey (Campsie) and 60 cartloads of turf to be used at Keithick. Free passage of the monks, their men and their vehicles was granted through his lands, particularly by the moor road which led to the crossroads (or possible gallows - see below), the road which lay next to the villa of Laising (Layston), and the lower road which lay next to the water and the bridge of Ihylif (Isla). Transit of wood through his lands was also granted.

Of the three roads it is likely enough that the moor road was identical to that marked on the OS maps as Abbey Road in Strelitz Wood as this was said to have been used to bring wood from Campsie to the abbey. The rising ground here would fit the mention of a moor, and it is listed as furthest from the bridge. Easson notes that furcas (uiam more que tendit ad furcas) can mean a crossroads or gallows - there is a Gallowhill where the named "abbey road" starts, and a Gallowraw (Galray) on the far side of Coupar Angus. If there was a crossroads it is not clear where the other road might have been coming from, though the bridge itself must indicate a route over the Isla. The Abbey Road is dealt with in more detail under a separate heading below.

Looking across the Tay towards Campsey from the old ferry point of Burnmouth .

The middle road is likely to have been close to the modern road that runs past Layston and leads directly through Keithick to the abbey. There is an old bridge at Brunty at the western edge of Keithick (and as Crawford notes, a possible earlier one nearby) that could have served both this road and the named abbey road. The lower road would presumably have been very close to the river, perhaps linked to pasture.

The location of the bridge is not certain, and in fact there may have been two. One which is likely to have been Roman is indicated by a row of stones or piles 50 yards west of the present bridge (built 1796) which were seen from the air during a drought in 1941, but not since then - NMRS record. Another is upriver where the placenames of Bridge Farm and Bridgend near to Windyedge suggest there had been a bridge. It is not clear from the charter which of these is being referred to.

The abbey had been granted land to use towards the upkeep of the bridge - see POMS record.


Strelitz Wood.

As said, this is an old road in Strelitz Wood south-west of Coupar Angus along which the abbey is said to have taken wood from Campsey. It is referred to as such in the OSA for Cargill and made its way onto the first OS maps via the Name Books where those consulted confirmed the story.

There is also a possible Roman road which is shown on the 1st edition of the 6" map, firstly at the western end of Strelitz Wood where its supposed location is placed slightly north of the Abbey Road, and secondly at the eastern edge of the wood, running past the farm of Wellsies to the camp at Coupar Angus. At Gallowhill, it was called the Long Causeway because it was paved with stones. See NMRS record.

Even at that time little remained of the roads (if they were separate roads), and little if anything can be seen today.

Map to illustrate the "Abbey Road" and the possible stretches of Roman road as well as two possible bridges over the Isla.

One interesting problem is whether they are two separate roads or just one. Crawford may be correct in suggesting that the Abbey Road is an old road from Perth which the abbey used for transporting wood though it may be that the Roman road was still usable near to Gallowhill. On this hypothesis, the Abbey Road would have linked to the Woodside stretch of the "Roman road" while the actual Roman road would have diverged near Gallowhill to run more directly to a crossing of the Coupar Burn close to the old bridge (NMRS record) at the mill where he had identified the abutment of an earlier bridge.

Another problem is how the Roman road hereabouts linked to the postulated Roman bridge over the Isla. This is traditionally thought to be indicated by the placenames of Bridge Farm and Bridgend near to Windyedge - see OSA Cargill, page 536 "....and passing near Gallowhill, where it is very discernible, it bends its course to the Isla at Windyedge, where the remains of another military bridge are distinctly to be traced, and the houses adjacent to which are still known to the old residenters by the name of Bridgend." However, as already noted there was a row or stones or piles some 50 yards west of the present bridge which were seen from the air during a drought in 1941, but not since then. The proximity of these to a Roman fort and a nearby fortlet would favour this as the Roman bridge. T M Allan has identified traces of a road running from Gallowhill towards the fort - NMRS record. The presumed Windyedge bridge may be the mediaeval bridge noted above.

There are frequent mentions of the following either in or close to the town:
gait, gate, gayt, mercat gate, commoun lone and gait, common way, causey, cause end, cawsey end,
See index (Rental, Vol. II) for details. Most are listed under Keithick which became a burgh of Barony in 1492 and included the town of Coupar Angus. There was also a grange at Keithick, two miles SW of the town.

An entry in the Rental Book (Vol. I, page 173, dated 1473) refers to the building of a wooden bridge between Cowbyre and Balgreschach, viz: "to help to mak a sufficiand bryg of tre with laudstalis of stane bath for cart and wayn."
Cowbyre is shown on early maps just south of the town.

Balgreschach (Balgersho) is about one mile south of Coupar Angus. As Cowbyre was part of Keithock (see Rental Index, Vol. II, page 329), the bridge may have been over the Coupar Burn.

Easson, Charters Vol. I, Charter XXXIII, pps 75-77, c.1221. See also Dunfermline Register no.217.
A dispute had arisen between Dunfermline and Coupar over land in Keithick (this was Little Keithick, granted to Dunfermline by a bishop of Caithness - see Easson, Vol. I, page 14) and the lands of Coupermaculty (Couttie) and Bendochy which was also the property of Dunfermline. The latter are just over the Isla from Coupar and Little Keithick is on the south side of the Isla and adjacent to Keithick which belonged to Coupar.

Due to their obstinacy in refusing passage to the Coupar monks, Dunfermline lost Bendochy and Coupirmaculty to Coupar (charter XXXII) but this was later reversed and they retained these lands. As part of the settlement, Dunfermline was to respect the boundaries as existed before the dispute. The moss lying between Blair, Couparmaculty and Bendochy was to remain with Coupar and they were to have a road by land or water to the peat moss without hinderance. However, the men of Bendochy and Coupermaculty were to be allowed to take 200 cartloads of peat from the moss each year.
The moss was probably the Monk's Mire and a straightforwardly direct route can be assumed. The Isla may have been crossed by fords at Couttie or Bendochy although a boat could probably carry quite a load across the river (see fords below).


.Easson. Charters, Charter CXL, Vol. II, page 57, dated 1466.
This document details the marches between Little Blare held by Scone, and Coupirgrange and Mylhorn held by Coupar. It also details the marches between Kynnochtry (Scone) and Kethick (Coupar), and between Fothernys (Scone) and Keithick and Balgersho (Coupar)

Parish boundary in green.

1. Little Blare/Coupirgrange and Mylhorn
Although Little Blare appears on early maps, its location other than being near Rosemount, is not clear. The boundary starts at a blind well near Little Blare then follows a ditch on its southern boundary underneath “Clunian Hill”. This may be Rosemount which would fit the description. The hill was probably to the north of our boundary as a parish boundary (which may be our boundary) runs along here joining the Monkmyre Burn at the eastern end of the Monkmire loch. As the document refers to reaching a Blackfurde with its rivulet, then running to the Ericht and this forming the boundary between Little Blare and Mylhorn we can be reasonably confident that the Blackfurde is close to the east end of the loch. The parish boundary, prior to the 1st edition of the 6” map ran along the Monkmyre Burn but was changed by the time of the 2nd edition c.1900 when it turned north at this point to run along the track to Wester Parkhead, possibly at the Blackfurde itself.
The track associated with the ford was probably of local use only.

Road to Great Blare

Marches between Great Blare/Banquhory, and Murehouse.
As the next charter CXLI (Easson, Charters, Vol.II, page 64, dated 1466) is in much the same area we will deal with it here. It concerns the marches between the above places, the first two belonging to Scone and Murehouse belonging to Coupar. The bounds read as follows:

Beginning firstly at the western end of the little loch of Magna Blare called the Black Loch and at the southern corner of the said loch near the common road and where on the eastern side of the same road a stone cross has been placed next to where a large hole/pit has been made in the ground. And then moving eastwards on the south side of the said little loch by piles of stones and certain holes/pits divide the said lands of Magna Blare which (belong) to the said monastery of Scone on the north and the moor or.....here the rest of the document is missing.
From the wording it seems clear enough that the road ran between the White and Black Loch and probably ran to Great Blare, the forerunner of Blairgowrie. It may have come ultimately from Scone and have used the presumed bridge over the Isla near to Cargill.

2. Kynnochtry and Keithick
The next two sections appear quite straightforward but in fact are very difficult to interpret. In both cases it is likely that the parish boundaries (Coupar, Kettins and Cargill) are being referred to, at least to a certain extent, though it has to be noted that these have changed over the years (see Ainslie 1794 and early 6" maps for these - NLS maps).

Part of Keithick. As it was a grange there would have been links to the abbey.

This section refers to a Redstanehalch (haugh) between Kynnochtry (Scone) on the west and Kethick (Coupar) on the east. The marches ran south to the summit of the moor at a place called Carle from where they went in a straight line to the east, with Kynnochtry on the south of this line and Keithick on the north. Once they reached a ford called the Murtone Nuke furde they went east to another ford near the public road, called the fovle ford (probably foul ford, i.e choked with weeds).
With respect to Kynnochtry and Keithick, there is a Redstone 2 miles SW of Kynnochtry but this seems too far to be the Redstonehaugh of the charter; nor does it fit the wording. More likely is the Coupar Burn at Damhead or the Burrelton Burn but Carle and the two fords are lost. It is likely however from what the next section says that the Foulford was on the Kinnochtry Burn and that the public road was near this.

Parish boundaries in green.

3. Fothernys/Keithick and Balgersho
The charter has the marches proceed from the fovlefurde northwards, descending as the waters of the same ford run in the valley or rivulet called le qwhytle den dividing Fothernys (Scone) on the east and the said lands of Keithick (Coupar) on the west, and just as the rivulet of that valley or water of the same descends to a certain ford called Dundeisfurde and from there going north and east by a certain marsh between the said lands of Fothernys on the south side and the lands of Keithick called le Kovtward (Coltward) on the north side to a certain angle of the same marsh and from there ascending to the Ruiche Reisk towards the south to the common road and then ascending by the same road to a certain spring called the blakhyll well, then ascending east by a certain marsh vulgarly called fetgarrache which divides Fothernys on the south side of the said marsh and the lands of Balgersho (to Coupar) on the north side of this marsh. And so finally proceeding as that said marsh of fetgarrache extends to the torrent of Fothernys and Balgersho. It says that numerous stone crosses and piles of stone with coals (carbonibus) were placed along the bounds.
With the Foulford being on the Kinnochtry Burn we can follow this downstream to Lintrose which was formerly called Fothernys (see Warden, Angus or Forfarshire, Vol.IV, page 19 - Foderance). The charter then beomes confusing although Coltward and Balgersho are clear enough. The Dundeisfurde suggests a route to Dundee but the route shown on
Edward's map of 1678 through Kettins and Newtyle seems too far north. Nor is it clear where the common road might be.

Rental, Vol. I, page 325, dated 1233. Easson, Charters, Vol. I, XLI, Page 93

Glenisla. The abbey had several farms here.

Likely routes into Glenisla

In 1234 Alexander II confirmed to the abbey by charter the lands of Glenylef and others, to be held in free forest - Glenylif (Glenisla), Belactyn (Bellaty), Frehqui (Freuchy), Cragneuithyn (Craignethan), Innerchariadethi (Inverquharity), Fortuhy (Forter), &c.

Also in 1234 he confirmed that the monks would have (the use of) a certain road by the middle of his forest of Alyth to their lands of Glenylefe (Glenisla).
Rental, Vol. I, Page 327. Dated 1234

John de Kinross
Rental, Vol. I, page 173/174.
Easson, Charters, Vol. I, charters LXXVI & LXXVII, pps 172 & 173.

In various charters he granted lands in Glenisla, viz. Camboro (Camock), Duny, Clargis, Auchinlish. He also granted the abbey free passage.


An old bridge in Alyth that would join up with the hill track below. It is quite possible that it was constructed by the abbey.


Looking south along an old track that leads to Alyth. To the north there would be a direct route to Glenisla.
The most direct route would be through Alyth where there is an old packhorse bridge (NMRS record) and then over the Hill of Alyth by an old track. This would lead directly to the Isla near Kilry where there were probably two routes: one to serve the lower, more easterly properties; and the other to serve those higher up Glenisla. There is an interesting old track just east of the modern road leading to Auchinleish which terminates at stepping stones at Kirkton of Glenisla but it first appears on the 1st edition of the 6" map. Today's Cateran Trail runs through Cammock to Kirkton of Glenisla and may link back to the mediaeval track.
Carse of Gowrie

Note: An overview of the grants given by the Hay family can be found in the Rental, Vol.I, pages ix-xi.

Gilbert of Hay, Grant of Ederpoles

Rental, Vol. II, page 286 & 290; Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XCIV, page 197
“By Gilbert of Hay, eldest son of David, the pastures and fishings of Ederpoles, along with the mill and standing and running waters on the lands, were confirmed to the monks. Gilbert also gave them a common road through his estates for their personal use, and for their cattle" - see next item. (From Rental, Intro. Vol.1, page x).
Ederpoles has been identified as Carse Grange - POMS. The likeliest route from here to the abbey would have been through Inchture (see below) and up past Abernyte to Ford of Pitcur.

Gilbert of Hay, Free Passage
Rental, Vol. II, page 289 & 285; Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter LXXXIII, page 181
This allows the abbey free passage over Gilbert's land. He had previously given them the land of Ederpoles in the Carse.

Rental, Vol. I, page 346
Sir Alexander of Abernethy, son of Sir Hugh, conferred on the monastery twenty loads of peats, to be taken yearly out of the moss of Baltrody. The peat was to be taken to the Grange of Carse.
A reasonably direct route between the petary and the grange can be assumed.

John of Inchmartyn grants free passage over his lands.
Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter LXXXIX, XC, Pages 192, 193; Rental Vol. I, page

Inchmartin is about two miles north of the grange. Presumably it would make travel easier.

William de Fenton, Free Passage
Free passage granted by William de Fenton.
Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XCI, Page 194, dated 1307-17

Murehouse, Carse of Gowrie
Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XLVII, page 107-9
William de la Hay gave Coupar the land called Murhouse lying south of the Grange of Carse and allowed free entry and exit and pasture of his moor of Admure.
Easson says this is likely to be the same land that had been granted by William de Haya in 1241 (see XLII & XLVI) but had not been specified at that time.
These are close to the grange and easily seen on the map.

Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XXXVII, page 83
In this charter, dating from c.1225, Richard Kai allows for a causeway which the abbey was building between Inchture and the Grange of Carse.
The Carse of Gowrie had always been marshy as evidenced even as late as the time of the Statistical Accounts when the roads were very poor. The names of Inchmartin, Inchture, Inchcoonans etc indicate former islands. Presumably the route to the grange was very marshy, hence the causeway. There is no sign of the causeway today.

River Tay, Aithmuir
Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter LXXXII, page 179

Looking towards Dundee from Polgavie and Athmuir

In this charter, dating from around 1305, William of Haye granted the abbey space for two cruives on the shore of the Tay. These were to lie between his land of Athmoris and the land of Polgavy on the one hand and the land of Randalfston on the other. Condition were laid down as to how they were to be placed along with his own cruives. In addition he gave free access through his land of Athmoris to and from the cruives and the Grange of Carse.
The places mentioned can be seen from the map.

Right of road between Polgavie and Inchture
Rental, Vol. I, Page 340
John Gifford of Polgavie gave them the right of a road between Polgavie and Inchture, as follows:
Charter of donation by Johanis Gyffard of Polgauein to God, Saint Marrise and the monks of Cupar that they (might) have a way that extends by my land from the bridge which is between my land of Polgavyn, and the land of the same monks of Carso (the Carse), as far as Inchethor (Inchture).
It is not known where the bridge was - it may have been that mentioned in the next two charters but this is not certain. Presumably a fairly straight route to Inchture would be taken.

The following two references are also of interest, viz:

Rental, Vol. I, page 312, prob.1492 - see no. 381, page 241 which mentions Andrew Jackson
Audro Jakson, Janot of Lorny, and Thorn Jakson, his son, in
the murhous in the Browland of the Briggende of the Carse Grange.
Adair’s map of 1685 has a Muirhouse and a bridge on the road just south of the Grange.

Mill of Kersgrange
Rental, Vol. I, Page 241, no.381. Dated 1492
An entry in the Rental refers to a grant of “our bog myl within our
grange of the Kers, with the land multure, ryng beyr, and all othir
pertinence. . . And alswa we haue set and grantit to the said Pattoun
and Jonet, for all the dayis of thar lyftis, a ne auchtand pairt of the
landis of our said Grange, lyand on the est halff be sowth the gate,
next the said myll…..”
Adair’s map of 1685 shows the Perth to Dundee road passing just to the north of the Bog Mill. The road is on or close to the line of the present day minor road.


Hugo Abernethy gave the abbey land in Lour beside the road leading from Forfar, viz:
Charter of donation by Heugonis Abernethy, knight, of two acres of arable land in my territory of Lur in the vndflate in the north side next to the public road which leads from Forfar etc. 1273
Rental, Vol. I, Page 336

The two acres of land is referred to again in a confirmation by Robert the Bruce of a grant of the “land of Kincreik, within the barony of Lour, with the mill and whole multure of the same barony; and also of two acres of land on the north side of the Water of Kirbeth, between the baronies of Innerichty and Lour," along with free passage.
Rental, Vol. II, page 290, dated 1309

Two charters refer to a grant of a part of Lur where the boundaries run from "the western side of the great road which leads from Inverarethin to Forfar, as far as the marches between Lur and mathin where a certain spring arises and as the stream which issues from that source falls into Gethin and as Gethin falls into Kerbed....
Rental Vol. I, page 344; Easson, Charters, Charters X & XI, page 25

The map shows some of the places that can be identified. From early maps it is likely that the road had much the line of the older A929 road and very probably went to Dundee, given the importance of Forfar and Dundee in the early mediaeval period. There is some ambiguity about it going through Inverarity - there may have been a short branch from there or the meaning of the charter may be that it passed through the lands of Inverarity rather than the specific place.

A charter of Arbroath abbey (Dunnichen) has a king's highway from Ochtirlony to Forfar but this is too far distant to be the same as this road - see here.

Coupar had a grange at Kincreich which would entail a route to the abbey through Glamis and Meigle (they had a right of free passage through Meigle granted by Michael de Miggil - Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter LXVIII, Page 190).

There were early routes from Perth and Dunkeld to Blair Atholl and also north to Ruthven. While the Dunkeld route might have been used, it would have been easier to float the timber downstream.

(From Rental, Intro. vol.1, xv, xvi) “Among the earlier benefactors of the abbey were members of the noble family of Athole. Malcolm, second Earl of Athole, granted to the abbey, from his forest of Athole, beams of timber for its construction. To the monks, Cuming, son of Henry, third Earl of Athole, granted the privilege of his woods at Glenherthry and Tolikyne, which was confirmed by his son Eugenius.”
(The Scottish Peerage, The Celtic Earls of Athole, vol. I, p.419 identifies these as Glenerrichdie and Tulloch - Glen Errochty is 4 m west of Blair Atholl, Tulloch is immediately south of Blair Atholl)

The shortest route to the abbey would have been to Dunkeld and then by Capputh to Meiklour where the Isla could be crossed. The timbers could have been floated downriver which would have saved a great deal of work.

Rental, Volume II, pages 130 and 131

Drimmie. Parish boundaries in green. The loan would have served the two farms and would have been somewhere near the Horse Stone or up towards Aldnecrecht

These records, dating from 1553, relate to the boundaries between Easter and Middle Drimmie
The boundaries are detailed as follows: "...that is to say, to the burn betuix Ester Drymme and Middill Drymme, begynand at Polcroster in the water of Arycht and haldis to croft Newtok one that ane part and fra the said croft Newtok northt vp to the myre, with commoun pastour to the Halkstane; and fra that est to the Studystane; and fra that to the burn callit Aldnecrecht, as ald vse and wont wes; with the croft of land callit the Well medow, lyand at the est fald, begynand at the burn northt to the mos, as the said croft is devidit be carnis of stanis; and fra the said croft of the Well medow, with commune pastour, to ane vther croft besyde Wester Drymme, callit the Owar hawcht, with commoun lonen fra the said croft Newtok, northt vp to the mos and to the Halkstane…"

The boundary starts at the river Ericht and follows the burn separating the two Drimmies up to the Hill of Drimmie. There is a Horse Stone here that may be the Hawk Stone but in any case a parish boundary runs north to the Burn of Aldnacrecht, which could be an alternative location for the Hawkstone. The other places are a little obscure but are probably near Wester Drimmie. On this reading the common loan would have run either from the upper reaches of the burn dividing the two Drimmies to the Hill Of Drimmie, or have gone north from here towards Aldnecrecht. It was undoubtedly of local use only to the farms involved.

Rental, Vol. I, page 349, c.1300

Reedie from the south. A Roman road is thought to run across the foreground of this image.

Two charters (88 & 89) of William Fenton, soldier, gave firstly, the land of Adory in the tenement of Rethy to the abbey and, secondly the right of free passage to the abbey’s servants (“Ane vther Carter of free passage to ye seruands of ye saids monkes be Dominus Villielmus Fenton, miles, the vittnes ane vith ye first").

Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Charter XCIII is a confirmation by John Fenton, William’s son, of the grant of Rethy and the free passage.

The sightings of the Roman road are just south of Reedie and trend from the SW to NE. There is a slight possibility that it is the Scottisgait of an Arbroath charter.

Adory is Auchindory, just south of Kirriemuir. Rethie is nearby and is called Reedie. While it doesn't mention any road, just free passage, it is of note that an Arbroath charter dealing with much the same area talks of a boundary running to "Achyndory and to the furd of Dersy vest the greyn rod quhill it cum to the Scotisgait and swa north to the Vynddy-yettis...." This places the Scotisgait near Reedie which raises the possibility that it is identical to the Roman road which was picked up at Westmuir and ran close to Reedie (OGS Crawford, Topography of Roman Scotland, page 90, NMRS records). The NMRS records detail the possible line of road passing near Reedie from Cardean (near Meigle) to either Inverquharity (3 m north-east of Kirriemuir) or Finavon (7 m east of Kirriemuir).

Several river ferries are mentioned, as follows:
Boat of the Baitscheill. This ferry was just north of the town, over the Isla. The name probably applies to the dwelling of the boatman or the shed where the boat was kept, although it is interesting to see that it later became Beech Hill.
In a list of duties (Rental, Vol. I, page 256), the boat man was to be “suet and gentill, and mak gud seruice to al that cummys without strublans.”

Boat of Campsie e.g. Rental, Vol. I, page 220. This was at the Abbot’s dwelling and was for fishing rather than a ferry.

Boat of Isla. There are many references to this - it is probably the same as the Baitscheill boat.

On page xviii (Rental, Vol. II) it says that tenants whose lands bordered on the Isla or other rivers were generally required to maintain a boat for the use of the monks.

Ly west bait de Wyndy Haige (Rental, Vol. II, page 207). Unidentified. It appears in a list of “other places” which are a considerable distance from the abbey.

Midylbait (Rental, Vol. I, page 278) - unidentified


Rental Book, Vol.I, page 248
This is referred to as follows:
..ffour acris of our burgh of Kethik, liand on the south west side of the cawsay end, merchand with James Bernardis land on the north side, togidder with the toft and zaird liand on the south pairt of the cawsay, and James Bernardis toft on the west pairt, and the land of the Gallaraw on the est pairt, with the medow discendand fra the toft til the cartfurde liand betwixt the land of the Gallaraw on the est side, and the lands of Kethik on the west pairt of the clay pottis, exceppand clay for the nedis of our place, and of vthir tenandis that gettis specials leif of vs in tyme cumyng . . [etc., as in previous grants of Kethik; dated 12th May 1495].
From this description, the ford may be where the Bridge of Couttie, built in 1766, now stands. This is an interesting ford as there were two large boulders in its bed, one called the “wading stone” and the other the “riding stone.” No sign of these can be seen today and the river looks both deep and dangerous at this location.

bendochy churchLess likely is a ford near Bendochy church which was near to Gallaraw (Galray, Gallery - Roy). Its depth of 3 feet at the best of times when the river could easily increase in depth would make it of limited use. Both Statistical Accounts for Bendochy parish mention the ford (NSA, page 1180; OSA, Vol.19, page 355) noting the Isla is 75 yards broad and 3 feet deep at the ford with a “right of road to Coupar-Angus.”

Whatever the case, the abbey had lands and granges on the north side of the Isla, and these would have required a fording point to access the abbey with grain and other produce.

Rental Book, Vol. I, page 131

Parish boundaries in green - from Stobie 1783

This gives the Marches between Ester Cally or Monkis Cally, and Parsy and Myddil Cally or Buttiris Cally as follows:
First beginning at Aldglew, thence ascending to Tulquhan, afterwards towards the north as far as Laron, extending to that place commonly called the Cowfurd ending on the hill now called Soilzare Moir.
This boundary may start in Strathardle at Lagan-Dhu where the nearby Aldnaigle Burn may derive from Aldglew. A parish boundary runs north-eastwards from here and the boundary may follow this to make its way over the hills to Dalruzian which Pont has as Darryllon and Roy has as Dalrillon. If this is Laron then the Cowford must be on the Black Water just south of the still existing Soilzarie. There are a couple of fords shown on the old 6” map at this location, one of which may be the Cowford, but it is not clear if they were used for anything other than local movement.

This appears in the Rental for 1463 (Vol. I, page 130) under Balmyle which is less than a mile to the west of Meigle. The wording is:
A tack to seven husbandmen for five years, paying yearly 12 chalders of meal and bear, 12 dozen hens, with six score loads of peats. Also that piece of land called Redfurdhauch is assigned to the same.
The place name is lost but it may have been on the River Isla just to the north of Balmyle.

Other Fords
The 1st series of the 6" map shows some 7 fords on the Isla and Ericht between Couttie and West Grange of Aberbrothrie, about 5 miles upstream.

Easson, Charters, Vol. I, Page 201, Charter XCV
This document relates to a gift of the church of Alvah, in Banffshire, and its lands, by Marjory, widow of John, Earl of Athole. It is treated under Mediaeval Charters: Moray, here.

The index (Rental, Vol. II, page 361) mentions the following:
Bridge, High-gate, Kirk-gate, North-gate, Skinner-gate, Spey-gate.

Rental, Vol. I, page 175, no.216

This refers to land in Dundee as follows:
the land lyand on the north half of the gate of the castale burn and twa rudis of land lyand in the welgat….. Dated 1474

Granges were an important part of the monastic economy. As well as being large farms in their own right, they served as collection points for produce from nearby farms prior to being taken to the abbey. In the early days they were run by lay brothers but later were leased out to individuals.

The abbey had nine granges in the following places as marked on the map:
Aberbothry, Eroly (Airlie), Balbrogie, Grange of Kerso (Carse Grange), Coupar Grange, Drimmie, Keithick, Kincreich, Tullyfergus. Easson in Charters, Vol. I, pages xxxiii & xxxiv gives an overview of the granges in the early days of the abbey where they seem to have been established as such by around 1300. There are numerous later references to both granges and farms in the Rental.

We can generally assume movement from outlying farms to a nearby grange and from a grange to the abbey. In a number of cases the records specify what materials or produce should be carried (see Rental index vol. 2, p. 326). These include peat, sand, timber, stone, coal, slates as well as fish and agricultural produce such as grain and cheese.

As an example of the style in which leases were written we can see one for Balbrogy (which was required to carry items from Dundee), thus:

Wester Balbrogy - Rental, Vol. II, page 47, dated 1547 - castin and
wynnyng of xxv fidderis of petis in our est myre of Balbrogy,
or in ony vther moss or myre at we may obtene licence for the
tyme, as we sail assigne to thame, and sail leid xij fidderis and
ane half of thame to our place of Cowpar, with ane gret draucht
with iiij oxin and tuay hors zerle to lyme, sclait, colis, salt, or
tymmer, fra Dunde or vther placis, with ane male turss of fodder;
and for thair teind of the samyn zerelie sail pay sex bollis mele
and thre bollis bere gude and sufficient, with tuay turss fodder,
with all vther . . . dewiteis and dew seruice, vse and
wont, . . . doand thair dewiteis lelelie and trewlie to our
corn miln of Kethik…

Dundee was used as the port for the abbey. In addition, fish was brought from Campsey near to Perth, and from Montrose and other coastal towns via Kincreich Grange.

Requirements as to which mill should be used are noted in leases, and these can be used to work out likely local routes. There were corn and waulk (fulling) mills at Aberbothry, Balmyle, Blacklaw, Brunty, Cally, Carse Grange, Cupar Grange, Drimmie, Glenisla, Keithock, Kincreich, Ledcassy, Lundie, Milnhorn, and Syks.