and Tracks of Ayrshire
maps Speed 1610, Green 1679, Moll 1718 &
1725, Bowles 1735, Bowen 1747, Kitchen 1749
this chapter, dealing with the period 1600 - 1750, we
will look first at early legislation which had an effect
on road building, and then at bridges, a large number
of which were built in this period. We will then attempt
to identify what roads there were at this time. There
is no problem in doing this at the end of the period,
i.e., about 1750, as the excellent maps of the military
survey show all the roads. Because of their comprehensiveness,
there is a separate section on these maps. The problem
is more in the early years of the period as the evidence
is quite scanty. Such evidence as there is, is found
on some early maps along with what one can infer from
the location of bridges and the role of the burghs and
other settlements in road building.
use the term post-mediaeval loosely for the 1600's and
the early to mid 1700's just prior to the turnpikes.
It was a time when those in power became more aware
of the need for roads and began to pass the first laws
already noted, the first legislation other than two
early statutes of William the Lion and David II was
in 1555 with an Act that required highways to be kept
open; any one stopping them up could be punished as
an oppressor. This was reinforced in 1592 where fosses
and dykes were to be made to enclose the common ways.
This is interesting as it implies known tracks, and
the act of enclosing them leads to a defined highway,
even if not surfaced, as distinct from a route between
two places which because people took the easiest path
could be hundreds of yards wide.
In 1617, an Act similar to that of 1555 was passed.
made the repair and upkeep of highways the responsibility
of Justices of the Peace, a system that had operated
in England since 1555 (see Moir (1)
for the effect James VI had on roads on Scotland after
the Union of the Crowns). Justices of the Peace were
introduced in 1609 where appointed individuals represented
the King. They had the power to appoint overseers and
call out tenants and cottars to work on roads. The Act
said that roads to the kirk and the market were to be
twenty foot in breadth. Where this fell down was that
although JP's were responsible for the highways, they
did not have control of finances and local landowners
were very reluctant to pay for something of no immediate
benefit to them.
To counteract this, the statute labour system was extended
in the 1669 Act for Repairing Highways & Bridges. It
stipulated that the Sheriff and a Depute Sheriff of
the Shire and the Justices should meet on the first
Tuesday of May yearly and draw up a list of Highways,
Bridges and Ferries and divide responsibility for these
between themselves or an overseer. They were then "required
and authorised to call upon all tenants and cotters
and the Servants to bring horses, carts, seeds, spades,
shovels, picks and mattocks required for repairing the
highways." Overseers were to be appointed. Individuals
were to work for 6 days for the first three years and
4 days a year after that (changed in 1685 to 6 days
yearly over the next five years and then in 1719 to
6 days annually in perpetuity). The work was to be done
between the "Bear-seed" and the "Hay-time or harvest".
Those who did not turn up could be fined 20/- Scots
daily or "punished in their persons" if they could not
pay this. The money was to be used to hire others to
do the work. The roads were to be at least 20 feet wide
and were to be suitable for winter use. This was changed
the following year to any time, except seed time and
harvest, and payment could be made instead of labour
at 6/- a man and 12/- a horse daily (Scots). In 1719,
this changed again to 3 days after seed time and 3 days
after harvest. The commutation rate by then was 6d per
system although flawed did result in some work being
done although we cannot say for definite which roads
were built as the records of the Justices for Ayrshire
no longer exist. The corresponding records for Lanarkshire
mention inspections of roads in several parishes early
in the 1700's. As there is no reason why Ayrshire should
be any different, we are probably safe to assume that
it too had a fairly well developed system of roads at
this time. As well as the roads shown on maps of this
period, the old road excavated by MacDonald (2)
between Dalmellington and Ayr
could date from this time or have had work done on it
if it was an earlier road and Clarke and Wilson
(3) found pre-turnpike roads near Mauchline
that may also be of this period. We can assume some
work was done on roads to churches and markets (1617
Act). There is also a reference to work being carried
out in 1695 on a road between Kilmarnock and Irvine
via Dreghorn and Annick.
problem with Statute Labour was that most individuals
greatly resented having to work for no wages and it
was a real hardship for old and infirm people. Overseers
had next to no idea of how to make or repair a road.
A typical repair would be to smooth out ruts and fill
in holes with rock. In making roads, a heavy bottoming
was used with large stones as kerbs, onto which smaller
stones would be placed, and a topping of gravel. While
this was fine for limited traffic, it was unsatisfactory
for heavier demands as lack of drainage led to uneven
settlement and undermining. Robertson says that the
small stones work underneath the larger and raise them
above the road surface. (4)
The jarring from passing traffic allows more
small stones to work their way under resulting in a
road with projecting stones and corresponding hollows.
Although from a different period, his picture of a road
at this time is pertinent. It was "very narrow and deep,
not unsimilar to an old broad ditch, much water worn
and thickly strewn with loose stones." He complains
about the older roads which were often made up of unbroken
field stones and then when the land was enclosed forced
the traveller to stay on them whatever lay ahead. As
these roads usually took the shortest route often on
the higher ground there was no thought to gradient that
made travel difficult for wheeled transport.
In 1686, further legislation required the Commissioners
of Supply to meet with the Justices to organise the
repair of highways and bridges by statute labour.
the early 1700's, a growth in trade and the beginnings
of the agricultural revolution pointed to the inadequacy
of the roads for the increase in traffic. The response
of the authorities was to use the existing legislation
to effect road improvements and the statute labour system
was implemented fully at this time. Another act limited
the number of horses drawing a wagon or cart and stipulated
the minimum wheel breadth. The theory was that wider
wheels would help flatten the ground.
A good example of local implementation of statute labour
is provided by Kilmaurs in a burgh record of July 1706.
was statute and ordained the whole burgesses, cottars
and inhabitants to send ane man out of every house wt.
ther horses wtin ye toune to repair the high wayes and
venniles…and that they come out man and horse preceassly
agd. at nine houres in the forenoon upon the sd. day
Being ye twentie-fourth day of July next under ye penaltie
of six shilling scotts money to be taken and payd out
of every house yt sendeth not out a man and 12/- scotts
money out of each house qr ther are horses if they send
not out ane horse."
In 1745, Maybole Town Council minutes note that the
inhabitants are "to turn out and collect stones and
sand: those who have horses to lead the same, and those
who refuse to comply to be fined in eighteen shillings
Scots for each absent day."
The inbuilt inadequacies of statute labour were still
there, however, and by 1767 a new system was developed
whereby this responsibility could be met by making a
monetary payment. Landowners were liable to pay 30/-
for each £100 Scots of valued rent; innkeepers and carriers
had to pay 1/-per day per horse and 6d per man; and
householders along with manufacturers and tradesmen
not in the first two categories were liable to pay 3/-
per year. All aged between 16 and 60 were liable except
apprentices and those in "indigent circumstances." Although
the payments were strongly resented, at least it meant
that the money could be used to employ people who had
some knowledge of road making and who would treat the
task as everyday work rather than as an imposition.
By 1800, statute labour in Ayrshire was generally commuted
and contractors were often employed to do the work.
The system was eventually abolished in 1878 under the
Roads and Bridges Act of that year.
were the responsibility of the Commissioners of Supply
and fortunately records of their proceedings exist from
The Commissioners were a committee of major landowners
set up in 1667 with the responsibility for setting taxes
and for building and maintaining bridges.
"bridge money" assessment was decided upon, and this
could be drawn upon for repairs or new bridge building.
Typically, a committee would be formed to examine a
bridge and obtain estimates for its repair. Thus, at
the meeting of 17 May 1745 (7)
we have the heading, Water of Finnick
to be visited to build two bridges over it and the text,
"There was produced a petition from Craufordland and
others anent the building of two bridges over the Water
of Finnick which being considered by the Commissioners
they recommend to Crawfurdland Dunlop Landlands Gardrum
and Robert Paterson or any three of them to try what
contributions can be gott from the neighbouring towns
and countrry, and to call different tradesmen to visit
what places are propper for building the said bridges
at, and to make estimates of the expences and report."
Over time, regulations for the administration of the
bridge money were developed and were strictly enforced.
need for repairs of bridges at Doon and Barskimming
is mentioned several times from 1715 onwards (references
are from the first Minute Book, CO3/1/1) - Barskimming
bridge at the time was suffering from a "profound ruining
and falling down." Fail is mentioned at the meeting
of 15 May 1718 and Coyle on 2 June 1719. £723.5.0 was
paid towards a bridge of poorstone at Fail.
On 16 May 1720, the "falling and utter decay of the
bridge that formerly was at Barrbeth" is noted; this
was on an old road between Dalmellington and Straiton,
which crossed the River Doon.
the next few years, there is mention of repairs to bridges
at Hudostone (perhaps Hoodstone bridge on the A71 east
of Hurlford), Killin, Galchoin and Carriosbridge. It
was proposed to build bridges at Riccartoun, Kirkmichell
over the Watter of Girvan, Dalrymplekirk over the Doon,
and near Colmonnell or Ballantrae over the Stencher.
The site finally chosen for the last-mentioned bridge
was near the kirk at Colmonell and the bridge itself
was built about 1745. Another was built at Ballantrae
itself about 1770.
old bridge at Ballantrae. Ardstinchar Castle may
built here to guard an early fording point. Image
from the Detroit Publishing Company's Views of Landscape
and Architecture in Scotland - see thumbnails on
Library of Congress site here.
says that stone from Ardstinchar Castle on the hill
above Ballantrae was used for this bridge and that stones
from Carleton Castle may have been used for Colmonell
1724, there is mention of a bridge near Renfrewshire,
and one over Halfwatter. The following year sees the
Riccartoun bridge started, and mention of bridges over
the watters of Gogo, Rye and Stobonstoun (it is not
clear where this last place was).
1728, it was decided to build a bridge near Barr Kirk.
In 1729, the bridgemoney was allotted to Dailly, Colmonell.
Barr, Dalrymple, Barskimming and Holmstoun. The next
year mention is made for the first time of a bridge
over the Lugar and in 1734 a bridge is proposed over
the watter of Glazert at Gallowayfoord (between Kilwinning
petition was made to the Commissioners in 1738 for a
bridge over the Garrer Burn between Kilmarnock and Irvine,
and there is an interesting entry about Gogo bridge
which a landowner says was carried away by "ane impetuous
shower after a great thunder", which he repaired immediately
"lest that breach should have carried away the whole
bridge." Expenses were £9.1.7. He represented that it
was "absolutely necessary for the intire safety of that
bridge to have a strong buttress built at each end of
the land stool to keep off all accidents of that kind."
Approval was given to inspect the bridge for this work.
Mention is also made of Noddle bridge.
bridges mentioned are Hoodstones and Sares, Clark's
and Corses (in parish of Beith - Corses is probably
Kerse), Maxholm and Lugtoun which needed repairs. New
bridges were proposed for the Nith below the old mains
of Cumnock (1742) and Stair (1745), and as previously
mentioned, over the Water of Finnick (1746).
Apart from these records, there is reference in the
literature to other bridges. A bridge over the Irvine
on the route to Ayr was rebuilt in 1748 and a new bridge
was planned for Ayr in 1782 as the old one was in serious
danger of falling down. In a study of the new bridge,
Taylor gives full details of the lengthy and expensive
process of obtaining an Act of Parliament to build a
bridge. It is noteworthy how unco-operative the Commissioners
of Supply were; they seem to have viewed the bridge
as the responsibility of the burgh alone.
By 1666, the bridge in the town of Irvine had decayed
to such an extent that it was dangerous to those crossing.
Repairs that year helped but by 1695, it had become
dangerous again; so much so that carts carrying coal
were banned. A flood in 1712 caused severe damage and
destroyed a number of bridges in the area. Rebuilding
started in 1748: parapets were kept low so that pack
horses could pass and there was the usual embayment
in the middle for passing traffic. Its width was 11
in Cumnock there was a bad accident in 1753 when they
were building a bridge over the Lugar at Stepends. The
men were sheltering under the arch from the rain when
it collapsed and killed 4 men and 4 boys.
this section, we will look at different sources of evidence
for roads. Early maps are useful although their roads
can be difficult to identify and in one or two cases
do not even appear on Roy who is more or less contemporary
with them. The Commissioners of Supply records from
1715 onwards are also useful, as it is reasonable to
assume that the bridges mentioned were linked to roads
or at least tracks. A number of new burghs were established
in this period and the trade they generated must have
led to some work being done on roads. Finally, there
are occasional references of roads that may date from
this period, including some from folklore.
Reproduced from the 1935 Ordnance Survey
map. © Crown copyright
shown on early maps
shows Galloway extending to Girvan and along the Water
of Girvan, with Carrick up to the Doon and Kyle up to
the Ayr. (12)
This has to be squared with Pont who was surveying
about 1600 who shows three stones "depynding Galloway
from Carrick" three quarters of a mile above Glenapp,
i.e. about a quarter of the way from Ballantrae to Stranraer
but it may just reflect what the people said to the
cartographers. The three stones are named Tam Slowan;
Friar's Kirk and the Taxing Stane (Carrick Gallovidian,
map of Scotland (on Charting the Nation site - search
for Green) dates from 1679.
(13) He only shows one road
in Ayrshire running from Lanark over to Irvine and then
south through Ayr to the border with Galloway.
places, it is very hard to pin the route down. On entering
Ayrshire somewhere near Loudoun Hill, it definitely
does not follow the Irvine Valley but runs north of
this over to Cunmninghamhead and Irvine. The most sensible
looking route, going by rivers and placenames e.g. Braidley
and Broun and comparison with other maps, would be on
the hills to the north of the Irvine valley then running
close to Waterside and Fenwick or perhaps nearer to
Moscow and then past Kilmaurs (none of these places
are shown) to cross the Annick just north of Cunninghamhead
and then to Irvine. This might be consistent with Pont's
crossing over the Glen just above Darvel. It should
be pointed out that Green's road runs across the border
into Renfrewshire but when one looks at Moll who has
a similar county boundary but more place names this
Irvine it ran near to Dundonald and Monkton to Ayr.
Given the topography this gives a likely route within
a half-mile or so. South Of Ayr, it runs directly to
Newark just south of Alloway, at the foot of the Carrick
Hills. The next places shown are Trochraig and Killochan
on the River Girvan. Given that the road does not go
near to Maybole or Crossraguel it may well have run
on the eastern slopes of the Carrick Hills over to near
Kirkoswald and then taken to the hills again to climb
over to Trochraig and Killochan. There is a possibility
that the route over to Trochraig was the same as or
close to the road shown on Moll except where it neared
of this point, it ran through Carleton (in Lendalfoot)
to Ardstinchar near Ballantrae and thence through Glaick
to Stranraer. There is a distinct possibility that south
of Carleton it is the same as Roy as far as Ballantrae.
In fact, there is enough ambiguity for the stretch to
Glaick (on the coast just above Little Laicht - cf.
Bowles) for his depiction to fit a Glenapp route or
one similar to Bowles running to Glendrissaig and Glenapp.
is a north-south route running from Glasgow via Renfrew,
Irvine, Ayr and Girvan to Stranraer along with a route
from Riccarton, south of Kilmarnock, to Sanquhar. A
road leads off this to Hamilton. Other roads shown are
Irvine to Largs and Irvine to Kilmarnock.
is impossible to tell from the map what course the road
took between Renfrew and Irvine but it may have been
through the Lochwinnoch gap. The depiction of the route
to Largs is sketchy but topography suggests it was near
the line of later routes. The road to Kilmarnock and
Riccarton may well have been on the old A71 line through
Crosshouse and Dreghorn.
Heading south to Ayr, it is not certain if it took the
more inland route through Dundonald or one nearer the
coast, such as that shown on Roy only 30 years later.
South of Ayr, it ran to Dunure and then is shown running
directly to Killochan, near Girvan. This could fit a
route near the coast or one heading across the hills
between the Kirkoswald area and Killochan. South of
Girvan, the route looks very similar to those shown
on other contemporary maps. From Ballantrae southwards,
it probably ran directly to the mouth of Glenapp.
route from Riccarton to Sanquhar is interesting as it
is a "lost road" and one or two clues suggest it may
be mediaeval. It went first to Dunley where a road branched
north-eastwards towards Hamilton, then to a place called
Oygang, near to two lochs and then to Sanquhar. Pont
shows Dunley close to Rottenrow and Skeoch, two miles
northwest of Mauchline. This is a strong indication
that the road leading from here to Hamilton is along
the Crosshands to Galston line. The road from Riccarton
probably went via Bridgehouse (NS434347) and out towards
Carnell and Rottenrow, perhaps on the same route as
Bowles' (1735) Kilmarnock to Mauchline road, though
as we saw that may have ran farther to the west.
of Darley, Moll's road went to Oygang, which Pont shows
to have been near Barlosh, about three miles southwest
of Ochiltree. Oygang must have been situated at approximately
NS488180. There is another Rottenrow just to the north,
suggestive of a "King's Highway" (Route du Roi). The
map is too indefinite to say whether the Darley to Oygang
stretch ran through Mauchline or Ochiltree. However,
it may have picked up the Mauchline to Ochiltree route,
probably of mediaeval date, because of the need to cross
the river and the "Gaitsid" shown on Pont, which was
near Barturk and Cawhillan.
Oygang to Sanquhar, the most likely route would have
been that shown on Armstrong as running from Auchencloigh
over to New Cumnock.
map of Ayrshire is in two parts, Cunninghame
north of the Irvine and Kyle
and Carrick below it (1745 imprint). He shows only
one road, from Glasgow to Stranraer.
is based on Pont and therefore relatively easy to relate
to the more detailed Pont map and so to modern maps.
When this is done, the course of the road does not correspond
to anything shown on Roy or Armstrong, or later maps.
From Kilmarnock northwards, it ran between Dalmunsternock
and Rowallan then just west of Robertland and of Blacklaw.
On crossing the county border, it headed towards Neilston.
It is very difficult to tie down the course of this
road from the map and there are no obvious traces of
it on the ground. He shows it running up from Kilmarnock
and passing between Dalmunsternock and Rowallan, slightly
closer to the former although this may just be the drawing
of the map. As there is only 3/4 of a mile between the
two places and Thomson shows a marshy area near to Mosside
it must have run on one side of the moss - the west
side would allow a straighter course. Interestingly
there is a right of way in the area.
this point it went up to Robertland Castle. On a direct
route, it would have gone through Gainford and West
Pokelly and the topography would allow this with deviations
here and there to make an easier path. Gainford may
be significant but as it doesn't appear on Pont or Armstrong,
it may just refer to the later Fenwick to Stewarton
road. Armstrong shows a road branching off the Glasgow
road south of Dalmunsternock and going through Birkton
to Rowallan. Unfortunately, Birkton doesn't appear on
other maps so this clue is lost. The road ends near
Rowallan downstream from the confluence of two streams
just east of the old castle. This is well off the putative
route of our road but given the inaccuracies of map
making in those days cannot be completely ruled out.
Curiously it lines up with a road Armstrong shows running
from Robertland up to near Whitelaw - this suggests
a missing stretch and a northward extension in roughly
the right direction. This might be so but it is inconsistent
with Moll who shows the road as having a more westerly
Robertland northward, one sees from Moll that it crossed
the Annick Water near Robertland and swung up towards,
but never crossing, the Clerkland Burn.
It is in fact possible to relate these two streams on
Moll's and Pont's maps and it is a good fit. One can
then plot the road on to Pont and see which places it
passes. Unfortunately, this doesn't help much as Pont
doesn't always have his farms in the right place. We
can say it passed close to Maryhill, Foulshaws, Whitelaw,
Gabrochill and Auchentiber but one would have assumed
that anyway from its northward course.
to Robertland, there are a number of clues to an old
road but again they are inconclusive. For a start there
is Kingsford - King would be a bit stronger than Kyne
or cattle as a clue to a road - and nearby a Spital.
Then on the outskirts of Stewarton there is a Causeyhead
and just above it a Thornhill which Thomson shows as
Thornygate. North of this is Gateside, which is shown
on Pont. While all of these are significant in themselves,
they are hard to relate to this road in a conclusive
indication of the route is given if we assume that later
roads took a similar course, as dictated by the topography.
Thus, although the present day back road running up
from Fulshaw to Townend of Fulwood is later (it appears
on Thomson) it links reasonably well with Pont's farms,
the course east of the Clerkland Burn and the general
direction towards Neilston. From Townend, it would have
gone either up towards Craignaught or Gabrochill avoiding
marshy ground in the area to hit the line of the present
road which Armstrong shows. It would have made sense
for it to have been close to this road as there were
extensive mosses north of here and it was much shorter
to Neilston than a more westerly line. Beyond this point,
Moll shows it crossing the Levern Burn some way from
the source. This suggests a routing up to Aboon the
Brae or further on before making the crossing into Neilston,
rather than taking the modern line.
At present, there is no particular indication on the
ground of an old road from Fulshaw northward, either
as a holloway or as a made road. Against this the ground
is currently open pasture which even allowing for it
being a bit wilder and overgrown would be quite passable
in good weather, so there may have been no particular
need for a made road. The marshy ground north of here
is very evident, being a silted up loch and would definitely
have forced a diversion. At best then we have it pinned
down to a strip of no more than 200-300 metres in width,
sometimes less but with no real evidence on the ground
to be certain of its course.
Kilmarnock south, it is shown running just east of Craigie,
then past Craigie Castle and Barnweil to Kessock (St
Quivox) to Ayr, running to the south of Ladykirk. The
mileage is shown as eight. It is hard to say if it is
represented at any stage by a modern road, there is
certainly no direct through route on this line today.
It is worth noting that Roy has a road running to Craigie.
However, it cuts down to Fail rather than Barnweil and
only takes a similar line again south of Ladykirk. More
evidence would be needed before one could say they are
in parts, the same road, but the similarities are suggestive.
of Ayr, the road goes to Maybole, passing through Alloway.
A reasonable fit, given the position of Newark, Bla
(possibly Blairstone) and Knockdon would be the B7024
(or a similar line) which used to be the turnpike between
Ayr and Maybole. Mileage given is six miles. It is also
shown on Roy and may well be the same road.
Maybole, it ran past Crossraguel Abbey and on towards
Kirkoswald. However, his mapping is quite misleading
as it suggests a straight road to Girvan. In fact, it
seems to have gone from Kirkoswald up by the west of
Craigdaw Loch to Kirkhill and then south of the Ladyburn
to a place called Snaid (NS209013). It then passed west
of Trochrague, crossing Girvan Water near present Girvan
Mains. There is no hint of this stretch (shown as 15
miles) on Roy or Armstrong.
Girvan, it no doubt went to the east of the present
town and then took to the high ground rather than the
coast. It is shown east of Ardmillan and crossing the
Bynehill Burn. However, it is unclear from the map whether
it kept to the east or the west of the high ground here
(i.e. Byne Hill, Cairn Hill, Grey Hill) although his
depiction of a couple of hills suggests the road was
on the west side. Kitchin (1771) shows the same road,
and passing Balumnock, which ties its course down a
is clearly shown running between Knockdaw and Carleton
and then north of Knockdolian to cross the Stinchar
a mile or so from present Ballantrae. From there, it
took a direct route to present Smyrton and then ran
down between Carlock Hill and Milljoan Hill. This suggests
it was very close to the present road. It then went
to Mark but it is not clear where this was. There is
a Mark in Glenapp, but his Mark is far to the south
of Glenapp so this is unlikely. The route was probably
that from Altimeg over to the Dalnigap area (NX130710)
where there is a present day road that meets the coast
just above Stranraer.
road south of Girvan kept to the coast as far as Ardmillan
and then ran inland. As it also runs between Knockdaw
and Carleton and goes north of Knockdolian Hill, it
may be the same road though this is not absolutely certain.
Roy crosses the Stinchar nearer to Ballantrae.
has a road from Kilmarnock to Glasgow but oddly enough
nothing to Ayr. (15)
Its course past Fenwick and the Black
and Brother Lochs, as well as Mearns, suggests strongly
that it is the same as that shown on Roy and Armstrong.
This would give it the line of the present A77 to Eaglesham
road end and then along the minor road at Kingswell.
was also a road up the Irvine Valley. This kept south
of the river through Riccarton. Somewhere before Dallars
it forked, with one branch continuing to Mauchline and
the other crossing the Irvine before the confluence
with the Cessnock. It then ran towards Loudoun Castle.
This seems a circuitous route as the direct distance
between Riccarton and the crossing point is about three
miles, whereas the route shown is at least four miles.
This may just reflect the presumed marshy state of the
flood plain here. There is no indication of this route
on Roy, although Armstrong has a road north of the Irvine.
Loudoun, the road ran wholly on the north side of the
Irvine, presumably close to the present road (shown
on Roy). Bowles shows a crossing over the Glen (as does
Pont) but his road crosses nearer the Irvine. Interestingly
he continues his road into Lanarkshire on the north
of the river, whereas Roy has the southerly sweep past
Mauchline road would fit the present minor road to Carnell.
It then ran down to the west of Loch Brown, which lay
southeast of Crosshands and so to Mauchline. Although
the present road from Carnell to Rottenrow seems to
fit the line, there is no readily identifiable track
beyond this. As Roy doesn't show a road in this area,
the present road may be more recent. Rottenrow is indicative
of an old road but not necessarily the one in question.
this is the likely line, one puzzling feature on the
map suggests a different route, viz. a depiction of
a hill that could be Craigie Hill - the road runs just
east of this to Adamhill (on the A719, Galston to Ayr
road). Roy has a road running past Craigie to near Adamhill
where his Irvine to Dumfries road is picked up which
would take it to Mauchline. Additional evidence would
be needed to say definitely which is the correct line.
of Mauchline, it clearly heads for Cumnock and New Cumnock
and the county boundary. It is practically impossible
to tell from the map what its exact course was but it
seems consistent with Roy, i.e., a crossing at or near
Howford then a similar line through Auchinleck and Cumnock
(neither is shown on the map). It also seems to have
the same line as Roy south of Cumnock through Borland
to New Cumnock where the distinctive change of direction
is shown. However, his road runs north of the Nith for
a couple of miles unlike Roy whose road is south of
road from Ayr is shown joining the above road at Cumnock.
It appears reasonably consistent with Roy (and Armstrong)
although he has a stretch north of Sundrum which would
take the road north of Roy's line (effectively the A70)
for three or four miles. His mapping here looks inaccurate,
so this may just be a mistake.
road south of Ayr is interesting because it does not
go through Maybole. Rather it crosses the Girvan near
Crosshill, and then runs south of the river to Girvan.
Having said that, it cannot have been far from the other
routes to Maybole as it passed through Auchindrain keeping
to the west of the Doon to go east of Lochlands and
just west of Dalduff to cross the river somewhere just
south of there. It then ran directly to Kilkerran, where
there is a distinctive turn that took it through Bargany
and Dailly to Girvan. For a mile or so north of the
Kilkerran to Girvan stretch, the line seems very similar
to Roy and Armstrong, and is likely to be the same road.
of Girvan, it goes to Ardmillan and then keeps fairly
close to the coast. It is hard to say if it is identical
to Roy's coastal route but it cannot have been far from
Ballantrae, there is a significant difference from other
routes including the Roy/Armstrong route, which went
up past Auchencrosh to run down Glen App. Bowles shows
a more direct route passing just east of Glendrishaig
(NX056762), crossing the App somewhere near Haggstone
and then running inland (perhaps two or three miles
from the coast) towards Stranraer. It does not appear
to correspond with Roy's three routes over Haggstone
Moor south of Glenapp, though it must have crossed them.
The stretch south of Ballantrae presumably kept to the
ridge as far as Glendrissaig, and then to the west of
map is similar to Kitchin as it shows the Ayr - Kilmarnock
- Glanders route and a route south from Drongan to Newton
Kirkbride and Blair are shown, which along with the
generally straight line of the road, suggests strongly
that it went down to Patna, followed the present hill
track to Straiton and then made its way over to Balloch
and then south.
roads are shown on this map, one a main north-south
route through Ayr, the other south of Stair through
The stretch north of Kilmarnock is of interest
as the road is shown going to Glanders in Renfrewshire
as on Moll's earlier map of 1725. Unfortunately, there
are no obvious clues that would let us say the routes
are identical and in fact, the routing past Blacklaw
is different on each map. However, it is clear that
there is a "lost" road or roads here which took a fairly
straight course between Kilmarnock and the Neilston
route to Ayr looks very similar to Moll, i.e., going
through Craigie, as does the stretch to Maybole.
Drongan route is probably the same as the one shown
on Bowen. If so, it is of interest that it is shown
going west of the Water of Coyle to a place marked as
Caris C(astle). As this is shown on the Doon, it is
probably Keirs just south of Waterside rather than Kerse,
a couple of miles west of Littlemill. This takes it
off the line of the Patna to Straiton track but it would
still be feasible to reach Straiton. If from there,
one links it to Bowen's map which shows Kirkbride and
Blair, there is the interesting possibility that it
is the same as the "lost road" shown by Roy which ran
from the Nick O' the Balloch road near Drumyork towards
Knockgardner (and ultimately Straiton).
1782 map of Wigtonshire has a short stretch of coast
road from Stranraer up to Glenapp where it crosses the
river at Finnart. (18)
There is also a road running from Cairnryan up to Little
Laicht and then up to Haggstone Moor. A main road is
shown running north from New Luce that splits into a
Girvan and a Maybole road. The Girvan road is the Beneraird
track that ran from the New Luce to Barrhill road up
to Lagafater Lodge and Beneraird - it is clearly shown
on O.S. maps. The other road continued to Barrhill.
From Glenwhilly (NX170710), it ran about 300 metres
east of the present road as far as Miltonise. North
of here, it ran a few hundred metres to the west of
the modern road to take up the modern line north of
Chirmorie. It is the same road as that shown on Roy.
dealing almost exclusively with bridges we must not
overlook the clues that these records provide. The bridges
mentioned above, which date from 1715 onwards and possible
associated routes, are:
Doon 1715 onwards This is the bridge at Alloway on the
old route south to Maybole
1715 onwards "profound ruining and falling down". This
is on the route Roy shows between Ochiltree and Mauchline
1718 This was probably on the Monk's Road from Mauchline
over to Fail
1719 This was on the Ayr to Cumnock route
1720 "falling and utter decay". This was presumably
on the hill road from Dalmellington over to Craig south
1720 repairs This may be the present day Hoodston Bridge
east of Hurlford
repairs Not identified
repairs Not identified
repairs Not identified
proposed 1723 This is the old Riccarton Bridge. It is
more than likely that there was a made road up to Kilmarnock
and some way south of it
proposed The road shown on Roy runs through Kirkmichael
from Maybole over to a route running north to Dalrymple
proposed This is on the north-south route just mentioned,
a short stretch of which still remains
proposed, built in 1745 This is on what later became
a turnpike route from Girvan to Stranraer
near Renfrewshire 1724 mention
over Gogo, Rye, Stobostoun mentioned 1725 The Gogo bridge
was likely to have been on Roy's route near Largs; the
Rye bridge is problematic as Roy has no road north of
Dalry and the town itself is south of the river. A possible
candidate is an old bridge mentioned in the minutes
of Ayr County Council's Highway Committee in 1934 that
was on an old route up the Rye Water. Stobostoun not
Barr (Kirk) proposed 1728 This was on the route up to
Bridge This is on the Beith to Johnstone route shown
(in parish of Beith) This is very probably Kerse on
the present Kilbirnie to Lochwinnoch route. At the time,
Roy shows no road here. The crossing would have been
of the Maich Water
repairs not identified
Lugtoun repairs Roy doesn't show a road at Lugton, although
if the Lugton Water is meant it could be the Dunlop
- Barrmill - Beith road shown on Roy.
earlier references to the responsibilities of the two
burghs of Kilmaurs and Maybole point to what must have
been similar arrangements in each burgh and parish in
applying the statute labour and other requirements,
however half-heartedly this might have been carried
out. Indeed, we can surmise that the towns were probably
better organised and more determined to carry out the
work than country parishes, although much of it must
have been focused on the town streets and perhaps a
short way out of town. There are in fact a few suggestive
Gateheads near towns, which may indicate where a made
number of new burghs were formed at this time, often
in places where there was already an unofficial market.
Dundonald, Riccarton and Montgomeriestoun were parchment
burghs, existing only on paper.
four working burghs may well, like the other burghs,
have taken their responsibilities quite seriously. However,
the deficiency in records means we cannot say anything
about what they did except what can be inferred from
other sources. One thing that is definite is that they
must have fulfilled a need for trading and so helped
to establish or reinforce a network of local roads or
tracks. This also applied to places which, although
not burghs, had been given the right to have a fair
or market. These were:
near Straiton 1685
in Stewarton 1707
in Fenwick 1707
"unofficial", markets and fairs were reported from Beith,
Kilwinning, Stewarton, Barr, Colmonell, Dailly, Kilbride,
Kirkmichael, Muirkirk, Sorn and Stewarton.
is some hard evidence for roads that may date from this
time. The Dalmellington to Ayr road has already been
mentioned and there is likelihood that some of the roads
round Ayr and Irvine would have been improved. There
is a reference of 1696 to work being carried out on
a road between Kilmarnock and Irvine, and the roads
found by Clark and Wilson near Carnell seem to date
from this period.
impetus for road building came from landowners whose
interests in agriculture and mining, as well as amenity,
could only benefit from improved transport.
Earl of Loudoun began to build a series of roads on
his estates near Galston as well as a bridge over the
Irvine in the mid 1730's. The Marquis of Bute and Lord
Auchinleck made similar improvements later. Smaller
landowners also played a part in this and the Statistical
Account mentions several, e.g., in Kirkmichael and Sorn.
J R Haldane in his book the Drove Roads of Scotland
doesn't deal with Ayrshire. There were certainly drove
roads that led outwith the county to join the main routes
south into England which may date from this time. Roy
in 1750 shows one leading from New Cumnock over to Crawfordjohn
and the Old Statistical Account of c.1795 refers to
cattle being sold for driving to the English markets
in the following parishes: Barr, Colmonnel, Coylton,
Dailly, Girvan and Kirkmichael. Other parishes sent
cattle to local markets such as Ayr, sometimes further
afield as with Galston sending calves to Edinburgh and
Largs sending cattle to Greenock. Muirkirk had 14,000
sheep in the parish and sent flocks to Linton, Lanark,
Carnwath, Kilbryd and sometimes Glasgow and Edinburgh.
No doubt a number of hill tracks were used to join the
main routes but the existence of tolls for cattle indicates
that turnpikes must also have been used when this was
source of some help is folklore where routes are mentioned
in the stories.
good example is Sawney Bean who with his wife fathered
a family, which because of incestuous relationships
grew to a large size. They lived in caves near Bennane
Head from whence they would emerge to waylay travellers,
rob them and then eat them. They are thought to have
been responsible for 1000 deaths. The whole family was
hunted down by James VI himself, taken to Edinburgh
and executed, including the children. It is clear from
the story that this route was well used in the 1500's
although no doubt travellers took wide detours because
of the dangers.
in Old Ayrshire Days
tells the story of Maggie Osborne, the Witch of Ayr
who lived in the later part of the 17th century. Maggie
used to fly all the way from Ayr to Galloway for meetings
beyond the Nick O' the Balloch accompanied by little
imps whose feet were so hot they burned up the grass
on the top of Carrick Hill and marked a highway known
as Maggie's Gait to Galloway. There is a bridge north
of Balloch known as Maggie's Bridge.
tale is of Michael Scott the Wizard (The Deil O'Ardrossan)
persuading the Devil to build a bridge from Cumbrae
to Hunterston Point. However, the Devil couldn't stand
being looked at and when someone saw him at work the
bridge, nearly at completion, fell down into the sea.
is a folk tale about the Murder Hole near Rowantree
in the vicinity of Loch Doon. The area gained a bad
reputation when people started disappearing in a mysterious
fashion. The locals themselves, left their dangerous
isolation on the moors leaving only one old woman and
her two sons who couldn't move. The story goes that
a pedlar youth in danger of being benighted (i.e.stranded
overnight in open countryside) remembered the warm welcome
he had received at the old lady's house the year before
- so warm that they'd implored him to stay a little
longer after the other visitors had left. Again he was
welcomed and put up in a room but on hearing strange
noises he spied on the woman and her sons and witnessed
another traveller being murdered. He fled and reached
safety. Under questioning, they admitted to killing
nearly fifty travellers and flinging their bodies down
the "murder hole" nearby. The location seems to have
been near the Nick O' the Balloch and the pedlar reference
suggests a 17th century date. (22)
It is said that James V was going to a wedding at Sorn
and stopped at an inn or cottage to water his horse;
the place taking the name of Kingswell. This confirms
the route over the Fenwick moors, or perhaps one through
the Eaglesham area.
is a reference from the Fenwick Parish Records for 1693
which confirms the Irvine Valley route.
A John Steill appearing for "driving some kine to a
farm in Strathavon, did carie most insolentlie, and
upbraided the Session, instead of giving anie suitable
confessione and acknowledgement of his sin."
we have seen, evidence for this period is poor so that
although Roy shows what must have been nearly all made
roads and significant tracks at the end of the period
we cannot say with certainty when they developed. Many
were clearly mediaeval and no doubt had been improved
and so justified being called a road. Others may have
been minor tracks at that time but through greater use
and improvement were becoming important enough to be
shown on Roy. Others again may have been conceived and
constructed entirely after 1600. In their differing
senses, these are all post mediaeval.
is no doubt, however, that from the 1600's onwards people
were improving tracks and building roads. The introduction
of legislation, statute labour, bridge building and
the other factors we looked at are evidence of this.
Indeed, a large number of turnpikes follow the line
of the roads shown on the Military Survey maps of the
1750's which suggests that these were sufficiently made
up to be adopted as turnpike routes. The implication
is that they may well have been built from 1600 onward,
though of course some may have been earlier. Certainly
by the end of the period, the process of road building
was well established as shown by the changes occurring
in the twenty-five years between Roy and Armstrong,
finally culminating in the development of the turnpikes.
for further details of this and subsequent legislation
see James Ferguson, The Law of Roads, Streets and Rights
of Way, Bridges, and Ferries in Scotland, Edinburgh,
1904, pps 105-110.
also Donald G Moir, The Roads of Scotland, II. Statute
Labour Roads: The First Phase, Scottish Geographical
Magazine, Volume 73, Issue 2, 1957, Pages 101 – 110.
His account of the effect James VI had on Scottish roads
after accession to the throne of England is interesting.
MacDonald, Notes on the "Roman" Roads of the One-inch
Ordnance Map of Scotland, PSAS, vol.xxvii, 1893, pp.417-43
Clarke and Wilson, A Possible Roman Road between the
Rivers Cessnock and Ayr, AANHS Collections, 2nd Series,
Robertson, Rural Recollections, Irvine, 1829
5. D McNaught, Kilmaurs
Parish and Burgh, Alexander Gardner, Paisley, 1912,
CO3/1/1 - CO3/1/5, Ayrshire Archives
The Braw New Coat - The Building of Ayr New Brig, AANHS
Collections, 2nd Series, 1961
W Walker, History of Irvine - Collection of articles
which appeared in the Kilmarnock Standard, see copy
in Carnegie Public Library, Ayr
A McJanet, Royal Burgh of Irvine, Civic Press, Glasgow,
Rev. John Warrick, The History of Old Cumnock, Paisley,
Speed, The Kingdome of Scotland, 1610
Moll H, The
South Part of the Shire of Air, containing Kyle
and Carrick; The
Shire of Renfrew with Cuningham. The North Part
of Air, Bowles and Bowles, London, 1745. See also H
Pocket Companion of ye roads of ye north part of
Great Britain, called Scotland, London 1718
Bowles C, A new and complete map of Scotland with roads
forts and military ways, 1735
A New and Accurate Map of Scotland or North Britain,
T Kitchin, Map of Coningham being the north part of
Ayrshire; Map of Kyle and Carrick being the south part
of Ayrshire, Geographiae Scotiae, 1749
Ainslie, A Map of the County of Wigton, Edinburgh,
G S Pryde, The Burghs of Ayrshire, AANHS Collections,
2nd series, Vol. 4, 1958
Robertson, in Old Ayrshire Days, Stephen and Pollock,
21. George Robertson,
Rural Recollections, Irvine, 1829
Rev. C H Dick, Highways and Byways in Galloway and Carrick,
reprinted 1972, EP Publishers
C.Jonas, Extracts from Fenwick Parish Records 1644
- 1699, PSAS, volume 46 (1911-12) p.48
also Ayrshire Place Names Index 1775 - 2000, Compiled
by J & E.W.Steel, 2001 (microfiche)