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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.

Scone Charters
Perth Bridges of Earn and of Perth
Stirling Tibbermore
Bridge of Perth

Also Inchcolm Abbey - Tibbermore

Scone Charters

Initially established about 1120 by Alexander I as an Augustinian priory, it became an abbey in the 1160's in the reign of Malcolm IV. It was sited a couple of miles north of Perth on the east bank of the Tay and being so close to the royal court at that time and the location of the Stone of Destiny, played an important part in the history of Scotland.

References to roads in its charters are a little disappointing; streets in Perth and the bridge at Perth. More interesting is the request of Robert the Bruce to obtain stones from quarries near Scone for use on Perth bridge and the bridge of Earn, and a charter for Tibbermore that refers to a "stratam" or paved road which from its location must be the Old Gallows Road and a couple of other, probably more local roads. The Inchcolm charter for Tibbermore may be a continuation of the Old Gallows Road.

As with other abbeys we can assume movement to their farms and to mills. For example, we know they had property north of Scone near Blairgowrie and Coupar Angus to which they would have made regular journeys. Perth itself was served by important routes which would have been available to the abbey.

Liber Ecclesie de Scon, Maitland Club, Edinburgh 1843

People of Medieval Scotland (POMS),
  Details of charters pre-1314 can be found on the PoMS website. Search "sources" by reference number,   e.g. 3/646/10
  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)
Reign of Alexander II r.1214-1249
No. 80, Page 49 Confirmation of Roger de Quincey count of Winton of the land that was William de Lens
.This charter relates to some land in Perth, "viz. that land with a stone house in the street which proceeds from the great north road leading to the island which lies between the said street and the water of Tay."
….viz. terram illam cum domo lapidea in vico qui procedit de magna via aquilonari tendente versus insulam que jacet inter dictum vicum et aquam de Tay.

Nos. 88 & 89 Page 56 & 57 Charter of Richard of Leicester burgess of Perth of a booth in Perth
This was a grant of a booth in Perth, "situated in the corner next to the great north road of Perth and the road which proceeds from it towards the church of St John the Baptist on the western side…."
.scilicet sita est in angulo contingente magnam viam aquilonarem de Perth et viam que de ea procedit versus ecclesiam Sancti Johannis baptiste in occidentali parte
POMS 3/646/10 & 11

No. 97, Page 62 Quitclaim by William son of Ketell of a croft held in feu
This charter refers to a toft in the south street of Perth, namely "that toft in the south street of Perth which at one time was Alan de Ponte‘s which the said William held in feu from the foresaid abbot and canons..."
…toftum illum in via australi de Perth qui quondam fuit alani de ponte quem predictus Willelmus de prefatis abbate et canonicis in feodo tenuerat
POMS 3/646/1


No. 200, Page 162 Enquiry into four perches of land in Stirling, dated 1411
.This has a reference to the King’s highway or lane (viam seu venale Regium) in Stirling.

No. 82 Page 51 Charter of sale of the site of a toft inundated by flooding of the Tay, dated 1219
This was a sale to Scone of the site of a toft on the south side of the bridge beside the Tay which had been carried away by violent flooding.
John Ylbaren of Perth sold to the canons of Scone the site of a toft which he had before it was carried away by a violent flood, and which was on the south side of the bridge, and on the east, facing the River Tay....
...... Johannes ylbaren de Perth vendidit canonicis de Scona locum tofti quem habuerant antequam inundatio fluminis per violentiam eum asportaverat in australi parte pontis proximi in oriente versus flumen de They...
POMS 3/646/2

No. 169, Page 126 Charter of arrangement with Margaret Blund and her son Serlone
This mentions a Richard, chaplain of the bridge. There was a chapel over the bridge.
POMS 4/21/1

Note: A bridge was carried away in floods of 1209 but seems to have been rebuilt shortly after. It is not clear however if the request made by Robert the Bruce to Scone abbey in 1329 (see next entry) was for stones that would be used for its repair or complete rebuilding. So far as Perth is concerned we know a bridge existed before the dates of these charters so it could have been repaired or completely rebuilt but was not a new build. The situation is not as clear with the Bridge of Earn.


No. 143, Page 103, Request by King Robert of stones from Kincarrathie and Balcormac, 1329
"An order was issued by King Robert Bruce, in 1329, commencing, " Robertus, Dei gratia," &c. of which the following is a translation: Robert, by the grace of God, King of Scots, to our beloved and religious men, the Abbot and Convent of Scone, greeting. We request, and that very earnestly, that you would grant liberty of taking hewed stones from Kincarrathie and Balcormac, for the edification of the Church of Perth, and of the Bridges of Perth and Eryn, providing always that the liberty shall not be of any prejudice or damage to you.Given at Glasco, the fourth day of July, in the twenty-third year of our reign."
From Perth: Its Annals and Its Archives, David Peacock, 1849, page 586

As noted immediately above it is not clear if both bridges were to be repaired or constructed. While there was a pre-existing bridge at Perth it is not certain if there was a pre-existing Bridge of Earn. From other sources we can be sure that it was on a route north from Edinburgh, even at this early date.

Both quarries were centred on the Annaty Burn about one mile north of Bridgend on the east side of the Tay, opposite Perth and just south of Scone. See the Gannochy Trust for details. Both places appear on a Pont map.


No.125, Page 90 Confirmation by William of Ruthven of a charter of Walter son of Alan of lands of Tibbermore and the fishing of Carnes
POMS 3/516/6



The lands are described as "that whole land which Swaine son of Thor my Grandfather gave to them in Tubermore by these divisions, namely from the King’s Well which is above the road (strata) which comes from Perth and leads to the foresaid villa (i.e. Tubermore) with the toft which was the goldsmith’s and other contiguous and adjacent tofts in the eastern side of the village, and so as far as a certain ditch which is between the aforesaid toft and the church, and so by the ditch towards the north to the road which comes from the foresaid church and goes to the east as far as the ford of Lochelyn, and so by Lochelyn east and south to the stream which comes from the foresaid King’s Well, with a certain field above the foresaid well which lies on the south side of the street which comes from Perth as far as the wood of Aberdalgyn and so westerwards to the church lands of Tubermore; the abbot and canons however quitclaim the whole claim that they had in the land which lies from the north side of the road which comes from the church and leads to the aforesaid ford of Lochelyn for the good peace of me and my heirs in perpetuity …"
The charter also granted the abbey common pasture and easements of the woods and other common easements that they had need of.

....totam terram illam quam Swanius filius Thory auus meus eis dedit in Tubermure per has diuisas, scilicet a fonte Regis qui est super stratam que venit de Perth et tendit in uillam prefatam cum tofto quod fuit aurifabri et aliis toftis contiguis et adiacentibus in orientali parte ville • et sic vsque ad quoddam concauum (hollow, ditch) quod est inter prefata tofta et ecclesiam • et sic per concauum versus aquilonem usque ad uiam que uenit de prefata ecclesiam et tendit uersus orientem usque in vadum de Lochelyn [Et sic per Lochelyn] uersus orientem et meridiem usque ad riuulum que descendit de prefato fonte Regis • cum quendam terrula super fontem prefatum que iacet ex australi parte strate que venit de perth usque ad nemus de Aberdalgyn et sic versus occidentem usque ad terram ecclesiam de Tubermore • Abbas vero et canonici totum clamium quod habebant in terra que iacet ex aquilonali parte vie que venit de ecclesiam et tendit ad prefatum vadum de Lochelyn pro bono pacis quietum me et heredibus meis in perpetuum clamaverunt……

Stobie's map of 1783 is very useful as it shows the King's Well to have been about one mile east of Tibbermore church and just beside what is now known as the Old Gallows Road. Following Stobie, the layout of Tibbermore itself was somewhat different as shown on Stobie with houses clustered near the church and nothing at all at the crossroads north of the church as shown on modern maps. A stream is shown passing to the east of King's Well and running north to the East Pow or as it was known at an earlier time, the Lochty Burn. It intersects with a road that ran north-east from Tibbermore.

Given that the King's Well was beside the Old Gallows Road there is a strong likelihood that the ford of Lochelyn was north-east of Tibbermore where the other road was to be found, since following the stream would take one back to the well and then west to the church lands. On this stretch the Old Gallows Road forms the parish boundary between Tibbermore and Abergaldie which may explain the Abergaldie reference.

While the Old Gallows Road seems incontrovertible one other interpretation is possible for the other road. This is to have a road lead from Tibbermore to the East Pow (Lochty Burn) then follow this burn to the confluence with the stream coming from near the well and so up to the well and then west to Tibbermore. Both depend very much on whether Lochelyn is different from the Lochethin of other charters which from their context is clearly Lochty.

The use of the term strata may be significant as it implies a paved road rather than a beaten track or "way" but it would be too speculative to assume that it was identical to the lost stretch of Roman road between its last known location on the Gask Ridge and the fort of Bertha at the confluence of the Almond and the Tay.

See Inchcolm abbey below for a possible continuation of this road.

Inchcolm Abbey
Charter XXXVII, page 36. Notes page 154.
Charters of the Abbey of Inchcolm, edited by D E Easson and Angus Macdonald, Scottish History Society, 1938

A charter of Inchcolm Abbey dating from 1362 refers to a road in the Tibbermore area. This mentions a grant of "the whole land between the bishop's march and the toft of Gilchrist MacMal, on the south side of that township, and the whole land which they can reclaim from his wood, which is next to the said toft, for the breadth of that toft to the other bishop's march, namely, the road which goes through the middle of the wood, east and west." (Transl. Easson and Macdonald).

There is a strong possibility that it is a continuation of the road in the Scone charter above (i.e. the Old Gallows Road) - it lies to the south of Tibbermore, runs in the same direction of east and west, and is associated with ecclesiastical lands.