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Mediaeval Roads: Evidence from Charters

Note: The maps below are based on the 1913 half-inch map, sheet 23. With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Inchaffray Charters

Inchaffray Charters
Perth Abbey Bridge
Rossy Causeway
Petlandy Nethergask
Road to Perth Madderty


Overview map of the roads
This map shows only the roads mentioned in charters as well as the Roman road. Other roads can be presumed, particularly around Perth which had links to Edinburgh, Dundee, Forfar and Dunkeld. The course of the Roman road from Dupplin to the fort on the River Tay is uncertain

The abbey was founded in 1200 by Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn, on an island site some 5 miles east of Crieff. There was a pre-existing Celtic community on the island, that was integrated with the new Augustinian house.

The abbey was given various privileges such as hunting, fishing, timber, access to building stone, free passage and mills and soon became well-established.

Of the roads mentioned in the charters there was one leading north from Fowlis to Buchanty. As Fowlis was a stronghold of the Earls there were probably routes leading from Fowlis to other parts of the earldom.

View of the abbey
Remains of Inchaffray Abbey. Its remains were extensively quarried for use in the area.

Another road led to Perth by a ford called Athebethy where the monks were allowed to use a bridge provided they repaired it (some say built it). This was over the Cowgask Burn and the road must have followed the dry ground south of the Pow. Beyond Athebethy the actual route is uncertain although it must have passed close to Tibbermore and perhaps the Old Gallows Road which existed at this time (see Scone charters - Tibbermore).


In the 1260's a short-lived route must have grown up between the abbey and a quarry which they were allowed to use. The location of the quarry was either at Findogask, or Nethergask 2 or 3 miles to the west of this: in either case a direct route can be assumed.


South of the Earn a road is mentioned between Rossie and Strathie but it is not clear what route there might have been to the abbey from these places. However, Rossie was very likely to have been on an east-west route between Auchterarder and Dunning that probably skirted the lower slopes of the hills hereabouts.


Nearer to the abbey a bridge was built to give access to the island, and a causeway across the marshy ground of the Pow. It terminated at a farm called Causeyend and was said to have still been visible in 1908 (Charters of Inchaffray, p.299). Another earlier causeway is indicated by a Kintocher to the west.


Other than these there were local routes in Madderty (just south of the abbey) itself, mentioned in the mid-1500's, and a couple of references to north street in Perth, and Perth bridge.


While these are the routes mentioned specifically in the charters, there is a map in Charters of Inchaffray depicting the medieval landscape of Strathearn which has a couple of puzzling points, viz. the Fowlis to Buchanty road is not shown, and a road is shown extending south from the abbey to a ford at south Kinkell. There is no reference in the charters to this road although no doubt there would have been a route to Auchterarder, which was an early burgh, and the abbey had a mill nearby. A route is shown between the abbey and Fowlis when the causeway ended at Causeyhead, although it may be that he is showing the causeway and the track that continued it to Fowlis.


Also of interest are comments by Gilbert and Neville on routes, easily accessed in chapter 1 of Neville which deals with the geography of settlement in early medieval Strathearn and which includes aspects relevant to routes. Among these are sites suitable for human settlement, resources that could be exploited, administrative centres for the Earldom at places such as Dunfallin, Innerpeffray, Crieff and Fowlis, fortified sites and mills.


There was also of course the Roman road along the Gask ridge that ran between Ardoch and the fort of Bertha at the mouth of the Almond and was ideally situated for nearby settlements.


The charters appear in the following:

Liber Insule Missarum, Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh 1847

Charters Bulls and Other Documents relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray, edited by William A   Lindsay, John Dowden and J Maitland Thomson. Scottish History Society, Edinburgh 1908

The Earls of Strathearn, from the Twelfth to the Mid-Fourteenth Century, with an Edition of their Written Acts. Cynthia J. Neville, PhD thesis, University of Aberdeen, 1983 - see Vol.2 for   charters

People of Medieval Scotland (POMS)
  Details of charters pre-1314 can be found on the PoMS website. Search "sources" by reference number,   e.g. 3/21/69
  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.

See also:
Inchaffray Abbey, Perth & Kinross: excavation and research, 1987,
Gordon Ewart, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 126 (1996), 469-516
The Historical Geography of Strathmore and its Highland Boundary Zone, J. Gilbert, Ph.D. thesis, Edinburgh University, 1954
A Medieval Landscape: Central Strathearn and Madderty, John Gilbert
Madderty: A Short History of an Ancient Parish, Bessie Maclagan, 1932
History of the Pow of Inchaffray, Norman Watson, 1997, ISBN, 0 9528762 1 3
The Roman Gask Project

Since we are concerned solely with the references to roads and bridges, the Charters Bulls and Other Documents relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray volume (Charters of Inchaffray) will prove adequate for this purpose although references to the other sources are provided. Where a reference to roads appears only in another source and not in the Charters of Inchaffray volume this is noted below.

Carta terre de Perthe
Charter LXX, p. 62, abstract p.203. Date c. 1245
Quitclaim by William, son of Hawock, which mentions land in North Street, Perth.
Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 39, p. 38.

Carta Willelmi filij hauyk de terra de Perthe
Charter LXXI, Page 63, abstract p.203. Date c.1245
Another charter of William, son of Hawock, mentioning the same land in North Street, Perth.
Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 40, p. 39.

Charter LX, page 51. Mention of bridge of Perth, date 1234

Charter CXI The Charters of Inchaffray has a note (p. 292) on the chapel of the bridge of Perth.

Grant of land in the tenement of Rossie
Charter CII, Page 93, Abstract p. 216. Date c.1272, (Neville 1266)

Map of Rossie and Strathy
A fairly stratight course between Rossie and Strathy can be assumed. The ford north of Strathy would have given access to the abbey.
This was a grant by Malise, son of Gilbert the late earl of Strathearn of three acres of land in Rossie (about 2 miles west of Dunning).
The boundaries were: “from the petary of Rossy called Pethath in Gaelic as the stream of the said petary descends on its eastern side as far as the road which stretches from Strathyn to Rossy, and so by that road towards the south as far as a stone marker made by me, then to another marker then towards the west side by white bounds, namely, a little path to the said petary and so on the north side to where the said stream leaves the petary.” As well as some rights of pasture they were allowed to take 20 cart-loads of peat annually, or if they preferred, 80 horse-loads.

scilicet. a petario de Rossy qui Scocie dicitur Pethath sicut riuulus dicti petarij discendit versus orientalem partem vsque ad viam que se extendit de Strathyn vsque ad Rossy et sic per illam viam versus austrum vsque ad aseruum lapidum per me factum ibidem et sic similiter vsque ad alium asseruum per me factum et sic versus occidentalem partem per albam metam scilicet paruam semitam vsque ad dictum petarium et sic versus aquilonalem partem vsque ad exitum dicti riuuli dicti petarij…..
Also Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 63, p. 62; Neville, add.chrs no.12, p.189; POMS - 3/21/69

On page 60 of Charters, Rossie and Strathy are listed as if a pair (De Strathyn et Rossyn) which might explain why they were connected by a road, although this could have occured for other reasons. The ford north of Strathy might also have been significant.

There is no trace of the road though a direct course would be possible given the topography. The footpath to the petary was very likely local.

Grant of land in Petlandy by Luke, son of Theobald
Charter CIII, Page 94, Abstracts p. 216. Date c.1272

Routes from the abbey to Fowlis and Buchanty
Routes between the abbey, Fowlis and Buchanty

This was a grant of “that whole piece of land in my land of pechlandy which lies between the land which my father and I charitably conferred to the said abbot and convent called fithlerflath and the great road which goes towards buchteny (Buchanty) and so by that road towards the north as far as the land of dunyduf which Bricius of Ardrossan had once held of me and my heirs at feufarm (land tenure where the owner is paid an annual sum), with that piece of land extending from the east to the west as far as that stream which runs between pethlandy and pethmane, which land contains four acres and a little more.“ The brew house for Pitlandy and common pasture rights were also granted.

...totam illam particulam terre In terra mea de pechlandy . quod iacet Inter terram quam pater meus et ego dictis abbati et conuentui caritatiue contulimus in terra que uocatur fithlerflath et viam magnam que vadit et tendit uersus buchteny . et sic per illam viam versus aquilonem vsque ad terram de dunyduf quam bricius de ardrossan quondam de me et heredibus meis ad feudo firmam tenuit . vna cum illa particula terre que se extendit ab oriente versus occidentem vsque ad riuulum illum qui currit Inter pethlandy et pethmane . que quidem particule terre continue continent in se quatuor acras terre et aliquantulum plus...

Also Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 62, p. 60 (Carta de Petlandy pro quatuor acris); Neville add. chrs 22, page 211; POMS - 3/470/2


The locations can be easily seen just north of Fowlis Wester - Pethmane is now Pitmonie. Although the placenames of Fithlerflath and Dunyduf are lost, the small size of the grant indicates that they were near to Pitlandy. The road to Buchanty must have had much the same line of the present day road though it is not clear if it extended to the north or south at each end. A route from the abbey is implied by the grants, perhaps initally by boat then by the causeway that was made "towards our desmesne lands of Fowlis" c.1375.
Grant by Luke, son of Theobald, of a toft and croft in Petlandy

Charter CV, Page 96/97, abstract p. 217. Date c.1275.

Fowlis WesterIn this charter, Luke grants the abbey a croft and toft in his tenement of Pitlandy “close to the door of my house, on the north side of the great road which goes to the church of Fowlis and by which way one goes to Buthny (Buchanty), namely, from the ford on the north side of my house and ascending by the said stream as far as a great stone beside this stream and so on the east side as far as the land of Martin, my son-in-law, and so descending on the south side to the said great road and by the same road to the aforesaid ford.” This totalled a quarter of an acre in extent. He also granted them the brew house of Pitlandy and the right to take peat and broom.

.....vnum croftum et toftum que sunt in tenemento meo de Petlandy propinquiora lacencia ante ostium domus mee ex parte aquiline magne vie que venit ad ecciesiam de Fowlis per quam Itur versus Buthny videlicet a vado ex parte aquilonari domus mee et sic ascendendo per dictum riuulum vsque ad magnam lapidem luxta dictum riuulum et sic versus orientalem partem vsque ad terram Martini generis (sic) mei et sic discendendo versus meridionalem partem vsque ad dictam magnam viam et sic per eandem viam vsque ad predictum vadum….
Also Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 66, p. 65; Neville - add. chrs no 23, page 215; POMS 3/470/3 .

See above charter.

John Cumyn’s grant of right of way by his wood and the bridge of the black ford
Charter CVIII, Page 99/100, abstract page 218. Date 1278

Map of road to Perth by the Black Ford
Although there was clearly a route to Perth, its course is known only approximately.

This grant gave the abbey “the right of free passage with animals, carriages and other of their goods by the public road that leads from the said monastery by the black ford, called Athebethy in Gaelic in the wood of Rosmadirdyne as far as the town of Perth, and strengthening the bridge there on our land, making it firm, maintaining it and meeting the expenses.” The abbey was allowed to use it freely without any hinderance from the grantor, his heirs or his servants.

…..libera potestatem transeundi cum animalibus, cariagis et aliis bonis suis per publicam viam que ducit a dicto monasterio per nigrum vadum qui scotice dicitur athebethy, in nemore nostro de Rosmadirdyne usque ad villam de Perthe, pontemque ibidem firmandi super terram nostram et firmatum sustenandi sumptiibus dictorum abbatis et conuentus, eodem que ponte utendi in perpetuum pro libero

Also Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 36, p. 35; POMS - 3/167/12

This is usually translated as the abbey being given the right to build a bridge but the use of firmandi (strengthening, making firm) suggests there was an existing bridge which provided they repaired it and met the costs of maintenance they could use it without charge. Whatever the case, there was a bridge at Athebethy which is likely to have been located over the Cowgask Burn near to Ross (probably the Rosmadirdyne of the charter). From the wording of the charter (and there being a pre-existing bridge) there must have been a route to Perth. There are no indications of the road today though it could have gone directly from the abbey to the ford, avoiding the marshy ground near the Pow rather than up to Dubbends. Indeed, Bessie Maclagan (Madderty: A Short History of An Ancient Parish, 1932, page 51) says a road passed through Redhills and Williamston at the time of Lord Lynedoch (1748-1843) and that traces were still visible in the 1930's. It was called the Royal Road. From the ford onwards it would have had much the same line as the modern road to Perth as this would keep it clear of the marshy ground of the Pow.

Grant by Brice of Ardrossan of sixteen acres
Charter XCIX, Page 90, Abstract p. 215. Date 1271

Map of the abbey environsThe sixteen acres in question were next to the abbey’s bridge on the east, in the field which is called Langflathe.

..illas sexdecim acras terre citas juxta pontem Abbathie ex parte orientali in campo qui vocatur langflathe….

Also Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 19, p. 21; Neville - add.chrs 27, page 224, POMS - 3/51/2

This was presumably near the modern bridge.With the Pow having been canalised, and the ground more marshy in the middle ages, its location may not have been the same as the modern bridge.

Declaration by David, earl of Strathern, that a grant of subsidy by the abbey must not be drawn into a precedent

Charter CXXXVIII, Page 131/2, Abstract p. 233. Date 1375.

Map of the Causeway leading eventually to Fowlis
From Causeyend it would be quite easy to reach Fowlis.
The subsidies referred to were for “the construction of bridges and the causeway lying on the west of the said abbey through the marsh towards our desmesne lands of Fowlis” (trans. from abstract).

Charters of Inchaffray notes (p.299) that the causeway “can still be traced by a broad line of scattered stones, dislodged and spread by the plough; the ground on either side being stoneless. At its north end stood in the sixteenth century the farm of Calsayend, and the site is still known locally as “the end of the causeway.” It would have allowed easy access to Fowlis.

Calsayend is shown on Stobie’s map (1783) about 500 metres from the abbey. There are no definite traces on the aerial images available on the internet although interestingly enough the track shown on Stobie running west to Kintocher can be clearly seen. Although Kintocher means “head of the causeway” it cannot be the same causeway as it is mentioned in a charter dating from between 1226-34 (Charters No.58, p.59) which is 150 years earlier than the abbey’s causeway. It is of course tempting to assume that the “tocher” was Roman, there being a known Roman road and camp about 2 miles away and Fendoch 4 miles to the north but evidence would be needed to confirm this. It could just as well have been post-Roman and needed to cross the very marshy land around the Pow Water.

Earl Malise’s grant of leave to take stone from his quarry of Nethergask
Charter XCV, p. 85. Abstract p. 212. Date 1266.

Map showing location of quarry at Nethergask
Quarry of Nethergask. There is some uncertainty about its location.

The charter granted the abbey leave to quarry stone at the Earl's quarry and land of Nethergask for the building of the church and other monastic buildings. They also had free transit to the quarry and Nethergask, along with free entrance and exit for their men, animals, carts and waggons. They were also given two acres of land next to the west side of the quarry where they could build a house and collect and cut the stones.
Lib.Ins.Mis. No. 64, p. 63; Neville, chrs no. 52, p. 96; POMS - 3/21/48

In Charters of Inchaffray (p.288) there is a note that the local tradition was that the quarry (NMRS record) lay a short distance south-east of the old church of Findogask (NMRS record). The writer, however, thinks it more likely to have been somewhere in Trinity Gask which was the old name for Nethergask and was two miles or so to the west. This is an important point for determining the route to the abbey because of the distance between the two possible locations. In either case we would expect a straight route to have been followed though there are no traces today.


Map showing paths in Madderty
The drain forms field boundaries on the 25" map
A number of late charters (1558, 1559, 1566) list lands around Madderty with the same placenames occuring in most and mentioning a gait, a calsey, a public road and a peat gait. With the help of the 25" map and a plan of part of Madderty from 1790 it is possible to identify some of these places (see map) but not enough of them to be certain of all the roads. Extracts from each of the charters with notes are given below. All the "roads" are very local.

The following three charters refer to a gait, and a peat gait that must be the same.

Liber Insule Missarum, no.8, page 122. Dated 1558. Gait
...inter silvam vocatam Incheviott et lie gait passand fra the Todhill to the lang medo ex occidentali viridem hortum vulgariter the grene zaird
The wood of Incheviott was near Woodend (Charters, p.317) but the location of the Todhill and the long meadow are not known. There is a possibility that the garden shown on the 1790 plan is the grene zaird of the charter.

Liber Insule Missarum, no. 14, page 124. c.1559. Peit gait
...inter sylvam vocatam Inchecheviot and lie peit gait passand fra ye west nuke of ye Todhill to ye lang medo ex occidentali viridem hortum vulgariter ye grene zaird
The wording is so similar to the charter above that it must be the same road.

Liber Insule Missarum, no. 27, page 128. Dated 1566. Payit gett and calsay
... fra the auld wod dyck eist to the grene yairde and Priouris medo with the moss lyand vpone the north syde of the Todhill to the lang medo stank fray the payit gett eist to the Calsay
This also refers to the peat gait. The calsey is also mentioned in the next charter.
Liber Insule Missarum, no. 10, page 122. Dated 1559. Calsey
...lie Calsey que ducit ad silvam de Inchecheviot
The causeway is shown on the plan at Mosside and led west towards Woodend and the wood of Incheviott. It is clearly a different causeway from the one mentioned in charter CXXXVIII above.

Liber Insule Missarum, no. 12, page 123. Dated 1559. Public way
...publicum vicum quo itur ad ecclesiam de Madirtie
The location of this public way which goes to the church of Madderty is difficult. As the places mentioned are near the centre of Madderty it may have been the track passing Thornhill or that marked on the plan as going to the manse.