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


GLOTTIANA Praefectura Inferior cum Baronia Glascuensi  
The Nether Warde of Clyds-Dail, and Baronie of Glasco
  GLOTTIANA Praefectura Superior
The Upper Warde of Clyds-Dail

The Glasgow - Kirkintilloch Road
The Lower Clydesdale sheet is one of the few to show a road. This ran between Glasgow and Kirkintilloch on a very direct line. It had gone out of use before 1750 as it is not shown on the maps of the Military Survey. It is not shown on Pont's original map so may date from the mid 1600's although there would undoubtedly have been a route of sorts in his day.

Routes - Upper and Lower Clydesdale
Lists of distances between places survive and although many date from the 1640's when work on the Blaeu Atlas was progressing some were recorded by Pont. These lists are quite different in character from other entries which lists places in relation to other nearby places. It is highly likely that these lists entail routes between these places: the known mileages must have been gained from actual travel and there would be little point in knowing the distances between places unless people were travelling between them. In addition, some of the entries list intermediate points between centres as if they were on a route, and there are entries like "The hie way fra Edinburgh to Glasgow is throw Falkirk" and references to milestones north and south of Ayr. In any case there is often evidence from other sources to support the idea of a network of routes at this time and Pont himself on his original maps shows bridges and fords that could only have been used for travel.

A list of these routes is given in a following section and an attempt made to reconstruct each route by referring to the river crossings and placenames on Pont as well as other sources. In some cases a route is reasonably certain but in others much less so. The maps should be used in conjunction with the notes as some of the routes shown are speculative.

So far as these sheets go there was an old route between Ayr and Lanark which went up the Irvine valley. It crossed at the Clydesholme ford which is known to have been in use in the 1500's. Glasgow had routes to Kirkintilloch, Falkirk, Partick (and ultimately Dumbarton), Ayrshire, the Monklands, Hamilton and Lanark and to the south. Lanark had routes to Biggar and Peebles and down to Douglas and Crawfordjohn and ultimately Dumfries. Biggar also had a route south to Crawfordjohn. There were other routes, as indicated on his map of the Lothians where roads are shown leading from Edinburgh towards Monklands (and presumably Glasgow), and two others on either side of the Pentlands, one of which led to Lanark and the other to Biggar and the south. These will be dealt with under the Lothians sheet.

River Crossings and Placenames - Upper and Lower Clydesdale
A number of bridges and fords are shown and these can help to identify some of the major routes. Others were probably just of local use. The location of these crossings has been identified and an assessment made of what routes they might be associated with. One surprising fact is that some of them are very old or are replacements for older bridges. Glasgow for example had a bridge as early as the 1340's and the Old Avon Bridge in Hamilton is thought to have been built by monks in the middle ages.

Placenames can often give clues to the existence of a road or track. There are several examples of compounds with words like bridge or ford, and gait or road is quite common. There are two interesting references to boats or ferries, Crookbait and Baithils near Lanark and several Spittals - these often functioned as resting places for travellers. There is a possible use of drochaid, gaelic for a bridge which must date from at least a thousand years ago and a possible use of heol, a Brythonic word for road which is probably older - in this instance, north of Lanark, it is situated beside a Roman road. Again the location of these placenames is identified and an assessment made of routes they might be associated with.

Other routes
When placenames and crossings are correlated with the putative routes indicated by the lists of distances, some are quite isolated and probably relate to more local routes. A list of these is given along with suggestions as to what routes they were associated with.

Overview Map
This map shows routes, crossings and placenames on the one sheet.

In all this, it is assumed that the roads depicted on the maps were roads as distinct from routes, i.e. they were constructed, albeit of a probably poor standard. Routes on the other hand were just "beaten tracks", no doubt improved here and there with stones and planks laid across streams but still routes that took a course determined by the geography between places.


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