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


Routes implied by tables of distances

A number of texts have survived which list many places and their relation to each other. Some of these suggest routes as they give the distances between towns without detailing the intermediate countryside like the other texts, and there were known routes between these places in the 1700‘s, sometimes earlier.


In this section the lists of distances suggestive of routes are given and an attempt made to identify the course they may have taken. Where relevant, links are shown to river crossings and placenames that may be associated with a route, as well as any supplementary evidence. As several of the routes cross over to the Upper Clydesdale sheet, both Upper and Lower Clydesdale are considered together.


The texts as well as details of their authorship can be viewed at the NLS website and are also in McFarlane’s Geographical Collections. Some of the distances are dated 1644 and 1646 and were probably obtained by Robert Gordon as part of his preparatory work for the Blaeu atlas but others refer directly to Pont having recorded them.


Distances of relevance to the Clydesdale sheets are as follows:


Note of Lennox and Sterlingshyr gotten from Gentlemen of the countrey 15 May 1644.


Kirkintilloch - Glasgow
Kirkintilloch - Partick at Kelvin Mouth
Glasgow - Partick
Monkland Kirk - Glasgow

Noates and Memoirs drawn furth of Mr Timothey Pont his papers
Divers distances (McFarlane, Vol.2, p586)

 Ayr - Lanark
   Crawford - Biggar
 Douglas Castle - Lanark
   Biggar - Peebles
 Lanark - Biggar
   Loudon - Hamilton
 Crawfordjohn - Biggar
   Loudon - Lanark

Further Divers distances

 Peebles - Lanark
   Glasgow - Hamilton
 Biggar - Drummailler
   Glasgow - Partick (repeat)
 The hie way fra Edinburgh  to Glasgow is throw Falkirk
   Hamilton - Lanark
 Glasgow - Kirkintilloch
   Kirkintilloch - Partick (repeat)

Notes sent out the south to me in February 1646.

 Dumfries - Lanark
   Douglas - Dumfries
 Dumfries - Glasgow
   Douglas - Crawfordjohn
 Lanark - Peebles
   Crawfordjohn - Enterkinhead
 Hamilton - Peebles
   Enterkinhead - Dumfries
 Glasgow - Douglas Castle
   Douglas - Kirkcudbright
 Glasgow - Falkirk
   Douglas - St John’s Clachan  (St John’s Town of Dalry)
 Peebles - Biggar
   St John’s Clachan -  Kirkcudbright
 Douglas Castle - Lanark


The Routes

Click on map to enlarge

Click for larger imaqe

Based on 1/4" OS map of 1936. With thanks to Ordnance Survey

Small map (100K)

Note of Lennox and Sterlingshyr gotten from Gentlemen of the countrey 15 May 1644.

Kirkintilloch - Glasgow 6 miles
Route Trending NNE via Balornock, Auchinairn, Loch Grog to Kirkintilloch.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Route shown on map and bridge at Luggie Water in Kirkintilloch.

Glasgow - Partick 2
Route Roy’s maps suggests that the road went closer to the river, approximately on the line of the Clydeside Expressway as far as the location of Old Partick Bridge. It is thought that this was on the early route to Dumbarton.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Old Partick Bridge.

Kirkintilloch - Partick at Kelvin Mouth 8
The distance of 8 miles suggests the route was via Glasgow.

Monkland Kirk - Glasgow 8
Route Evidence for the route is poor. Roy has a route through Parkhead and Shettleston where it went up to Barlanark and over to near Bargeddie and then Coatbridge. It is a bit surprising that he shows nothing on the more direct line through Ballieston and he has nothing going to Old Monkland where the Kirk was (NS7163). In this respect the crossing Pont shows at Bargeddie (No.13) could make sense as it would allow access to the Kirk if the initial stages of Pont‘s route were the same as Roy as far as Bargeddie. He may also have had the more direct line from Shettleston through Baillieston to Bargeddie. Having said that, however, we cannot assume the road went directly to Monklands Kirk -his route may just have been close to Roy’s right into Coatbridge where there was a road of ¾ mile leading due south to the Kirk.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. The more northerly bridge over the Molendinar (Nos.6&7) would have given easy access to the Parkhead/Shettleston area and the crossing of the Tollcross Burn may have been involved. The Bargeddie crossing would have allowed an easy approach to the Kirk but as noted above there are uncertainties about this route.

Notes and Memoirs drawn furth of Mr Timothey Pont his papers. Divers distances. See also McFarlane, Vol.2, p586

Ayr - Lanark 24 miles - Newmils town is midway
Route Given T Reid’s (Fords, Ferries, Floats and Bridges near Lanark, PSAS, Vol.47, 1912-13) mention of the Clydeholme ford and ferry (near Kirkfieldbank close to Lanark) as having been used from early times for travel (certainly in Pont’s day) between Ayrshire and the Lothians the route from Newmilns would have been up the Irvine Valley to Strathaven. From there it probably went by the route shown on Roy as leading to just north of Lesmahagow where there was a bridge and then directly over to the ferry. The only other possibilities are an unknown route between Strathaven and Lanark (though still fairly direct) or along the line of the Castledykes - Loudoun Hill Roman road which the RCAHMS suggest crossed at the ford and then ran about 1 km south of the Clyde until it crossed the Nethan and then, close to Fence Farm (NS 807459), took up its alignment with the well known stretch south of Stonehouse. However, this route was badly decayed or scarcely recognisable in many places and does not appear on Roy so does not seem likely. The Strathaven to Lanark route went as far as Sandford (A726) where it cut directly across to Dykehead, followed the line of the A726 as far as Woodhead and then ran directly to the bridge at Craig head (No.9) (near Lesmahagow) then across what is now open country to one km beyond Greenrig (NS 857422) from where it ran up to the Clydeholme ferry with Nether and Over Baithils nearby.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Placenames of Lochgait, west of Drumclog and Sandford, 2 miles south-east of Strathaven. Bridge at Craighead. Clydesholme ford and ferry are known to have operated in Pont’s day and to have been on an Ayr - Edinburgh route. The only uncertainty is the exact route between Strathaven and Lanark

Douglas Castle - Lanark 8

The route ran near the river. Looking north.
Route Roy has a route running up the east side of the Douglas Water as far as Crookboat where there was a ferry. From there the road continued directly to Lanark through Robiesland and Bankhead. The only route south from Crookboat was towards Douglas. Although there is a gap of 150 years between Pont and Roy, T Reid (p.221) notes that the ferryboat was renewed in 1671 and Pont himself has the placename Crookbait indicating the age of the ferry and that it existed in his time.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Placename of Crookbait. Crookboat undoubtedly operated in Pont’s day.

Lanark - Biggar 4
Thankerton Bridge looking towards Biggar      Like Roy, Pont's route may have gone over this  hill near Biggar
Route The route shown by Roy crossing near Hyndford and running to Thankerton and then Biggar is by far the shortest of any alternatives he shows. It does not in fact deviate much from a straight line and was presumably routed through Thankerton because the Clyde was easier to ford here. This was very probably the route in Pont’s day as indicated by T Reid (p.216) who says that Thankerton was on the ancient thoroughfare between Lanark and Biggar and who records a payment to the ferrymen in 1662 by the burgh of Lanark.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Placename of Hyndford and Baithouses. Known ford and ferry at Thankerton dating from before 1662 (payment was for replacing a boat as reference is made to existing ferry).

Crawfordjohn - Biggar 10

Leaving Crawfordjohn the route follows the public road
for half a mile then crosses open countryside to the old
A74 where it becomes a public road again

Route Evidence for this route is poor although geography suggests that it must have been the same as or very close to that shown on Roy. This effectively followed the line of the Roman road through Coulter, Lamington and Wandel (A702). At Wandel it crossed the Clyde and made its way to Crawfordjohn by Maidencots, Netherton and Strand. T Reid (p210) gives an interesting account of a ford near Wandel (probably near the present bridge at NS941 267) which besides leading to Crawfordjohn was used by pack horses bringing lead from Leadhills to Biggar. In 1597 a convoy of packhorses from Leadhills was attacked and robbed near the ford.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Ford at Wandel known to have existed in Pont’s day (not shown on Blaeu map) which would have led directly to Crawfordjohn. The Roy/Roman road route is supported by the existence of pack horse trains at this early date as they crossed the Clyde here rather than further north, as well as the presence of the Coulter Fells to the south-east.

Crawford (Crawford Lindsay) - Biggar 6
The Roman Road used this pass near Raggenhill Hill
Route The mileage is inconsistent with that given for Crawfordjohn as they should both be about the same. As was the case for Crawfordjohn, the only sensible route would have been down to Wandel but beyond that the course is uncertain. Roy has a road on the west side of the Clyde from the ford to Abington and Elvanfoot and then a route north to Crawford along the line of the Roman road from Nithsdale but this seems far too long. He also has a road of about 1 ½ miles between Wandel and Cold Chapel from where the Roman road continued south over the pass near Raggengill Hill to Crawford (not shown on Roy) but it is hard to say if this was used in Pont’s time.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. As for Crawfordjohn between Biggar and Wandel. The rest of the route is uncertain. The name Crawford itself undoubtedly refers to a ford.

Biggar - Peebles 12
near Drumelzier on route to Peebles

Route The inclusion of a mileage between Biggar and Drumelzier suggests that the Biggar - Peebles route passed through Drumelzier. On Roy’s map the most direct route would have been to head east to cross the Spittal Water at Spittal and then to swing down for about a mile before turning east to follow the line of the Biggar Water to Broughton. From here the road (leading to Moffat) went down to Wroe Hill (NT1232), crossed the Tweed and followed the line of the present B712 to the present A72 and then into Peebles. Any other route on Roy would have been very indirect. There is a minor road today that leaves Broughton and runs to join the B712 at Dawyck This is such an obvious shortcut avoiding two crossings of the Tweed that it is tempting to say that it would have been used in Pont’s day but Drumelzier lies a mile south of it with the Tweed in between so perhaps there was a reason at the time for the route being here.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. The mention of Drumelzier suggests that the route went through here though it is not absolutely certain. The possible routing past Spittal, very near a river, is also suggestive. In 1301, Edward I travelled from Peebles to Biggar and onwards to Lanark and Glasgow (see T Reid, page 248)

Loudon - Hamilton 13
Route The most obvious routing would be as shown on Roy, basically the A71 line to Strathaven and then the A723 to Hamilton although this is not certain.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Although the route is likely, additional evidence would be needed to confirm it.

Loudon - Lanark 13
See Ayr - Lanark route above.

Further Divers distances

Peebles - Lanark 16 (via Biggar 4 + 12)
Route Going by the distances above (Lanark - Biggar 4 plus Biggar - Peebles 12) we can assume the route went through Biggar. See above for details of route.

Biggar - Drumelzier 4
Route As noted under Biggar - Peebles above.

"The hie way fra Edinburgh to Glasgow is throw Falkirk"
This will be dealt with under the Lothian and Linlithgow sheet but it can be noted here that in 1723 (MacFarlane’s Geographical Collections, Vol.1, p316 & following) two routes between Falkirk and Glasgow seem to have been available. They divided at Bonnybridge with the "deal" or "deall" road probably going to Kilsyth and then on the A803 line through Queenzieburn to Kirkintilloch (Pont shows a crossing of the Kelvin about one mile east of Kirkintilloch near to Inchbelle Farm at NS669749). The road from Kirkintilloch to Glasgow has already been dealt with.

The other road, the "muir road) would have gone through Cumbernauld to Muirhead and Stepps and then Glasgow. Both routes are shown by Roy, the first being very close to existing roads, the other on a much different line on many stretches (see map).

The "deall" road may be a reference to the use of planks to cross streams (see Dictionary of the Scots Language ). Alternatively, it could mean the dale or valley road as suggested by Harrison (Improving the roads and bridges of the Stirling area c1660-1706, PSAS, 135 (2005), p.290).

Glasgow - Kirkintilloch 6
See Kirkintilloch - Glasgow above

Glasgow - Hamilton 8
Route Although there is no definite evidence for the exact course of the route or routes, two possibilities seem reasonable enough given the existence of river crossings and the later routes shown on Roy. The first would have been over Old Glasgow Bridge and then perhaps a crossing over the Polmadie Burn through Rutherglen to Blantyre where the Old Priory Bridge (or ford) would have afforded a crossing over the Calder. There was a Spittal just east of the bridge. From here it would have been a direct course to Hamilton.

The second would have been over the Molendinar out to Tollcross and then the crossing of the North Calder from where it would have ran south to Bothwell and Bothwell Bridge and then Hamilton. Both routes could have been used although the Blantyre route is slightly shorter.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Crossings noted above.

Glasgow - Partick 2
See Glasgow - Partick above

Hamilton - Lanark 8
Looking north towards Crossford      Start of descent to Mousemill Bridge
Route Although not absolutely certain, the existence of Old Avon Bridge, the crossing at Nethanfoot, the early ford and ferry at Crossford (with N & O Crosfurt nearby) and the early crossing of the Mouse as well as the road depicted on Roy make it very likely that it crossed the Old Avon Bridge and ran along the line of the present day roads to Larkhall and Ashgill directly to Crossford. Once over the Clyde it would have followed the top of the ridge to just above Nemphlar and the Mouse crossing. Reid confirms the Lanark to Crossford section of the route in 1650 and the Liber Calchou mentions Crossford in the mid 1100s..
Evidence Included in lists of distances. Placenames and crossings mentioned above.

Kirkintilloch - Partick 8
See Kirkintillock - Partick at Kelvin mouth above.

Notes sent out the south to me in February 1646.

Dumfries - Lanark 32

The old route from Crawfordjohn to Leadhills follows the
line of the road in the picture. It veers to the left to pass
over to a valley that runs up to Leadhills

Route The route most consistent with the other routes here would have been Lanark to Crawfordjohn then Enterkinhead and down the Nith valley to Dumfries. The route to Crawfordjohn would have been by Crookbait and Douglas Water (see above). There would have been no need to have gone into Douglas and Roy shows a route following the A74 line as far as Mid Rig (NS8627) and then by a present day track to Crawfordjohn. This shorter route than that through Douglas would help to account for some of the discrepancy in mileages (Douglas - Dumfries 26 plus Douglas - Lanark 8 giving 34 miles rather than the 32 of the present route). The route, for geographical reasons as well as being shown on Roy, would then have followed the present day minor road to Leadhills and Wanlockhead. From here a still existing old track runs south to Carronbridge and ultimately Dumfries. See Inglis for an interesting account of the Enterkin.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. As for Lanark - Douglas route. Joining the known route from Leadhills to Biggar (see T Reid).

Dumfries - Glasgow 56
Route The mileage is 10 miles more than the routes below for Glasgow - Douglas Castle 20 and Douglas - Dumfries 26 which total 46. Although Glasgow - Dumfries via Douglas would be a viable route we cannot say it is the one referred to.
Evidence Uncertain

Lanark - Peebles 16
Route The mileage is consistent with a route through Biggar (Lanark - Biggar 4 miles; Biggar - Peebles 12 miles although another item in the list (see below) has 10 miles). This would give the route as Lanark - Symington - Biggar - Broughton - Drumelzier - Peebles. Evidence As already noted for individual sections of the route.

Hamilton - Peebles 24 (via Lanark 8 + 16)
Route The mileage is consistent with the Hamilton - Lanark route (8 miles) and Lanark - Peebles (16 miles). The route would then have been via Crossford and the Mouse Water to Lanark then to Biggar, Broughton, Drumelzier and Peebles.
Evidence As already noted for individual sections of this route.

Glasgow - Douglas Castle 20
Route The route would have been as that for Glasgow - Hamilton and then out to Larkhall (Hamilton - Lanark route). From here Roy shows a road on the A74 line to Blackwood and then by a minor road to Craighead where Pont has a crossing. From here Roy’s route skirted Broken Cross Muir by a still existing track then headed past Cairnhouses and Poneil to Douglas Castle.
Evidence Included in lists of distances. As for Glasgow - Hamilton and Larkhall. Beyond this point there is the Pont crossing at Craighead, a Spittal close to the route, as well as the suggestiveness of Roy’s route including it’s having led to Douglas Castle. A Nether and Over Brigtoun north of Douglas may also be associated with this route.

Glasgow - Falkirk 18
See section on quote "The hie way fra Edinburgh to Glasgow is throw Falkirk".

Peebles - Biggar 10 (another has 12 miles)
Route As noted above the route was probably through Broughton and Drumelzier although this route is stated to be two miles shorter.

Douglas Castle - Lanark 4
See entry above. Note the difference in the distance.

Douglas - Dumfries 26

Leaving Crawfordjohn for Douglas. This access road
eventually becomes a hill track

The distances in the entry immediately below total 26 miles, so presumably indicate the route.
Douglas - Crawfordjohn 4, Enterkinhead 6, Dumfries 16
Route As well as a route shown on Roy which runs almost directly between Douglas and Crawfordjohn (it passes near the summit of Pagie Hill) the route would be as that already given for Dumfries to Lanark, i.e. Leadhills, Wanlockhead, Enterkinhead, Carronbridge etc.

Douglas - Kirkcudbright 40
Again the distances in the entry immediately below total 40 miles, so must indicate the route.
Douglas - St John’s Clachan (St John’s Town of Dalry) 22 St John’s Clachan - Kirkcudbright 18
This will be dealt with under the Nithsdale sheet.


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