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




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Map based on half-inch OS map of Edinburgh and Lanark, published 1913.
With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Edinburgh - Linlithgow - Falkirk - Kilsyth
On the Lothians/Linlithgow sheet a road is shown heading west over Linlithgow Bridge. This appears to be picked up on the Stirlingshire sheet as a dotted line running through Falkirk towards Kilsyth.

Although it looks like the course of a road, there are two difficulties which have to be taken into consideration. One is that on one edition of the sheet (for example, as shown in Jeffrey Stoneís Illustrated Maps of Scotland) this line is coloured as if it was a county boundary with Stirlingshire and Clydesdale shown above and below the line. Another edition (see NLS) however, shows the county boundary well to the south of the line and in its correct position, with the dotted line standing on its own. This suggests that there was a mistake in the engraving of the first plate although it does not clarify the status of the dotted line.

Another difficulty is that the Antonine Wall is shown on both plates, and is based by a dotted line on the Pont original, which is thought to have been added by Robert Gordon when preparing the map for publication. This has led to the suggestion that the dotted line we are concerned with, was mistakenly engraved twice as the Antonine Wall. However, a close inspection shows that the dotted line on the original was in fact engraved correctly so that the line we are concerned with was not associated with the Wall.

With these caveats, we have to give serious consideration to the line being a representation of a road. It looks in fact to be a good fit for the line of the A9 as far as Falkirk and then with the A803 to Bonnybridge and the B816 to Castlecary (both shown on the Military Survey). Beyond this point it is shown very close to the river heading to Kilsyth.

In partial support of this being a road, we can note Pontís mention that "The hieway to Glasgow runs through Falkirk." It is interesting to note that it is only 5 miles to Kirkintilloch which on the Lower Clydesdale sheet has a road to Glasgow and a bridge at Inchbelle, one mile east of Kirkintilloch in the direction of Kilsyth.