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Roads in the 1600's: The Roads of Timothy Pont


Pont Texts
River Crossings - None

The placename Sandyfurd confirms that the Roman road from Annandale up to the fort at Raeburnfoot and from there over Craik Cross Moor towards Newstead was still in use in the 1600's as it had been in mediaeval times as a Royal road between Roxburgh and Annandale. Stankgate is useful as an indication that a road ran up Eskdale at this time though whether it related to mediaeval settlements at Staplegordon and Westerkirk or to a Roman road from Netherby is unclear. Yetbyres may just be a local name though it is located near the important Castle O'er site.

A route may have ran from Annan to Hawick by Langholm (see Pont Texts below).

Map based on quarter-inch OS map, published 1935.
With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Pont Texts

A number of texts written by or derived from Pont gives distances between towns. It is very likely that these relate to routes because the distances must have been measured and there would be little point in knowing the mileage unless people were travelling between these places. In some cases he refers directly to "the way to" or gives a list of intermediate places as if they were on a route. He also shows river crossings that must have been used for journeys. There is in any case evidence from other sources that there were routes at this time. The texts can be viewed on the NLS Pont Website and are also in MacFarlane's Geographical Collections.

So far as this map goes, the following entries may indicate a route through this area:
   - Annand Toun and Hermitage Castle in Liddisdail 24 m.
   - Annand and Haik in Teviot dail 28 m.
   - Annand and Jedburg 36.
It is unclear however if the Hawick route went through Langholm or up Liddesdale past Hermitage. The distance given between Hawick and Jedburgh is 8 miles (28 + 8 = 36 miles) which suggest the Annan to Jedburgh route went through Hawick although a more direct Jedburgh route by Note O'The Gate was available at this time.

River Crossings

None shown


Yetbyres, near Castle Ower
Although marked on some older maps it is hard to say if it was located at present day Castle Oer Farm or 300-400 metres to the south, NY 249 921 approx.
Associated route
No road is shown on early maps. Although near to Castle Oer which has significant earthworks and was well populated in Roman times it is impossible to say if there is any connection. The name itself could suggest a road to cattle sheds perhaps belonging to a mediaeval settlement nearby.


Views near Sandyford - the Craik Cross Roman road passed through here


Sandyford, 3 miles NE of Boreland on B723 road to Eskdalemuir, NY 205 937
Associated route
Although this ford was on the line of a Roman road from Annandale to Raeburnfoot the name itself must refer to its use in later times when it seems to have been a well-used ford with up to five crossing points having been identified (Wilson, Roman Penetration in E Dumfriesshire and Beyond, TDGNHAS, Vol.XXXIII, p.42) . If the Royal Road between Roxburgh and Annandale mentioned by R P Hardie in Roads of Mediaeval Lauderdale (Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1942) was a later use of this Roman road it must have crossed at Sandyford. A possible later use is by farmers from Ettrick and Yarrow parishes who are said in the Statistical Accounts to have taken their sheep down to Annandale in the winter months and perhaps generally to access markets in that area.

On north side of River Esk, 3 miles NNW of Langholm, NY 330 888 approx.
Associated route
One meaning of "stank" was a stretch of swampy ground (Dictionary of the Scots Language) so the name may imply a causeway over such terrain. Wilson (op.cit. p.22) notes that there were important mediaeval settlements at Staplegordon and Westerkirk, both of which are near this location so one possibility is that the name dates from this time. Another more speculative possibility is that Stankgate should read Stanegate which would tie in with the course of a possible Roman road in this area up to the fort at Raeburnsfoot which Wilson discusses in his paper.