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Rambles on Old Roads

Publisher: Old Roads of ScotlandÓ

Issue Number 19

Date: July 2014

In this issue we look at
more medieval roads in Fifeshire, riding and wading stones, the "worn way" in Carluke and the old road between Carluke and Lanark.
Recent Additions - Medieval Roads in Fifeshire

This looks at some medieval roads in Fife. The most interesting of these, at least in name, is the Pilgrymgath which led to St Andrews through the southern part of Ceres parish. It probably came north through Kennoway though this is not certain.

The Waterless Road near Struthers

Another road, linking Kennoway, Ceres and St Andrews was the Waterless Road, so called because it ran along a well-drained ridge line. Beyond Ceres with its old bridge it becomes the Bishop's Road and is notable for the killing of Archbishop Sharp in 1679 by a band of Covenanters.

In Portmoak parish, charters dating from the time of Macbeth refer to a road running from Inverkeithing up to the eastern side of Loch Leven where the Culdees were established. Other charters mention a bridge, probably the Old Gullet Bridge, or a predecessor.

The road is referred to as a "publica strata" which indicates it was a made road rather than a beaten track. Sometimes "strata" indicates a Roman road but in the absence of any proved Roman road in the area it is more likely to refer to the stretch just south of Scotlandwell which even today is called the Causeway. Privy Council records of the 1600's show that this stretch was a dangerous quagmire, with only a ruinous bridge to help in the journey.

At Cupar, a via regia led north by Kilmany to a ferry on the Tay. Being so near Balmerino




Abbey, there were several roads in that area.

The "Waterless Road" and the "Pilgrymgath" south of Ceres. Based on the 1926 one-inch map for Dundee & St Andrews. With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Also long distance was a route from Inverdovat (near Woodhaven on the Tay) to St Andrews but we would expect there to be other roads between St Andrews and the Tay, especially the important ferry of Portincraig with its northern terminus managed by Arbroath Abbey.

One charter for the southern part of Markinch parish refers to a road. It is not quite clear if this road went to Kirkcaldy or ran north through the Markinch gap but it serves to draw our attention to what is called Queen Mary's Road on which she used to travel between Wemyss Castle and Falkland. There is an old bridge on the route.

Also in Markinch parish, there is mention of a causeway in Markinch itself though it seems to have been very local. A track led north-eastwards over Cuinan Hill to Star, a Gaelic word for crossing.

The "Worn Way"

An interesting alternative to the term "the beaten track" can be found from Carluke where the main road used to be known as the "worn way".

The Carluke to Lanark Road

Still in the Carluke area, there is a good example of an older road running parallel to a newer road.




Rambles on Old Roads

The old road between Carluke and Lanark, It was replaced in the 1820's by a new road that ran from Cumbernauld to Abington. Map based on the half-inch OS map 1913. With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

The old road can be seen on the map and even today can be traced along farm tracks. In the 1820's it was replaced by a new road that ran from Cumbernauld by Airdrie, Carluke and Lanark then by Hyndford Bridge to Abington where it joined the Glasgow to Carlisle road. Funding was provided through the Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges.

It is interesting to see that Telford wished to take the new road over the Howgate, just west of the summit of Tinto rather than the present day line that was finally settled on.

"Cartlane Crags Bridge" (Cartland Crags) engraved by E.Benjamin after a picture by T.Allom, published in Scotland Illustrated, 1837. Image courtesy of

One notable feature of the new road was the bridge (above) at Cartland Craigs, designed by Telford.

Riding and Wading Stones

One comes across occasional references to



in local histories and 6" maps. Thus there was both a riding and a wading stone over the Isla at Bendochty, just north of Cupar Angus and riding stones in Galashiels parish and in Kintore and Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.

They appear to have been used to indicate if it was safe to cross at a fording point. If the stone could be seen it was safe to cross, if covered it was dangerous.

Recommended Resources

RCAHMS Inventories

The Inventories for the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland are now online at Scotlands Places.

These are a very valuable resource that give considerable details of old roads.

Page references are to the ScotlandsPlaces page numbering and not that of the volumes.

Argyll, Vol. 1 Bridges 250, Roads 046
Vol. 2 Roads & Bridges 345
Vol. 3 Bridges (Index) 310; Roads 086
Vol. 4 Roads (Iona) 052; Iona Abbey (Medieval Streets) 308 Index
Vol. 5 Bridges (Index) 385; Highland Roads & Bridges (Index 392); Roads (Index) 396
Vol. 6 Nil
Vol. 7 Bridges (Index) 606; Roads (Index) 619; Transport Monuments p.069 & p 530
Berwickshire (1909) Bridges (Index) 072 Roads/tracks (Index) 072
Berwickshire (1915) Bridges (Index) 270; Ancient Marches or Dykes (Index) 270
Caithness Index 298
Dumfries Dumfries Bridge 134
East Lothian Bridges (Index) 256
Edinburgh Index 519 - numerous references to streets in Edinburgh
Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan Bridges 074/075; Bridges (Index) 548
Outer Hebrides, Skye, and the Small Isles Nil
Kirkcudbright Bridges (Index) 413; Packman's Road - Crosses 152/153
Lanarkshire Roman Roads, Military Way (Index) 203
Midlothian & West Lothian Bridges (Index) 390; Roads (Index) 397
Orkney & Shetland Vol 1. - Nil
Vol. 2 Bridges - Birsay, Scuan 60
Vol. 3 Nil
Peeblesshire Vol. 1 Nil
Peeblesshire Vol. 2
Bridges 175 - 176 Roads & Toll House 177 - 187
Roxburghshire Vol. 1
Roman period 60ff
Roxburghshire Vol. 2 Bridges (Index) 285; Fords 289; Military Road 292; Roads 294
Note: Vol. 2 starts at page 265 (Inventory page numbering)
Appendix A Dere Street - 252; Appendix B Wheel Causeway - 265; Appendix C A Main Drove-Road - 268
Selkirkshire Bridges 136; Roads 142 ff - see also Index 248
Stirlingshire Vol. 1
See Vol. 2
Stirlingshire Vol. 2 Bridges & Viaducts 155 ff; Bridges (Index) 214
Old Roads & Trysts 169 ff; Roads (Index) 225-6
Note: Vol. 2 starts at page 273 (Inventory page numbering)
Sutherland Nil
"Rambles on Old Roads" will be produced four times a year.