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Resources on Old Scottish Roads


Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland

Society of Antiquaries Website

A contemporary account of the Earl of Hertford's second expedition to Scotland, and of the Ravages committed by the English Forces in September 1545, David Laing, PSAS, Vol 1, (1851-54) pps 271-81

This campaign had been ordered by Henry VIII who wanted to unite the two kingdoms by forcing the Scots to accept the marriage of his son Edward to the infant Princess Mary. Leaving aside the destruction caused by the campaign, the account is useful for its itinerary from which some idea of routes in the Borders can be obtained.

  1. Notes on the "Roman" Roads of the One-inch Ordnance Map of Scotland, The Ayrshire Road, James MacDonald, PSAS, vol.27, (1892-1893), pp. 417-43
  2. Notes on the "Roman" Roads of the One-inch Ordnance Map of Scotland, Preliminary Remarks, James MacDonald, PSAS, vol.28, (1893-94), pp.20-57
  3. Notes on the "Roman" Roads of the One-inch Ordnance Map of Scotland, The Dumfresshire Roads, James MacDonald, PSAS, vol.28, (1893-94), pp.298-320
  4. Notes on the 'Roman Roads' of the One-Inch Ordnance Map of Scotland, The Roxburghshire Roads, James MacDonald, PSAS, Vol. 29, (1894-95), 317-28

    These papers call into question the work of early historians and antiquarians that identified many camp sites and roads as Roman. The papers were important at the time because of MacDonald's standing as one of the foremost archaeologists of the day. In an overview paper (Preliminary Remarks) he argues that much of the earlier work on the Romans in Scotland was speculative and faulty and gives an interesting account of how this state of affairs developed. In the three other papers he selects road systems in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire, and attempts to show that although they might be Roman the evidence for this was very slight. Nowadays, a number of the roads he questioned are accepted as Roman.

Note on the Antiquity of the Wheel Causeway, Haverfield, F, PSAS, Vol. 34 (1899-1900), 129-30

A short paper that lists references to the Wheel Causeway showing that it was in use in the Middle Ages.


Military Roads and Fortifications in the Highlands with bridges and milestones, Thomas Wallace, PSAS, Vol 45, (1910-1911), pps 318-333

An account of the Military Roads built after the Rising of 1715 to allow more effective control of the Highlands. Prior to that time there were only rough tracks, if any at all, that made access to many areas very difficult. Details of all the new roads and bridges are given as well as of the forts built at the same time.


The Ancient Bridges in Scotland, and their relation to the Roman and Mediaeval bridges in Europe, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol 46 (1911-12), pp 151-177

The author identifies nine periods of bridge construction: Roman; pre and post Reformation; "Collection" bridges; local, shire and military; and three consecutive phases of turnpike bridges. He notes that after the time of the Romans nothing seems to have been built until the early Middle Ages. The earliest bridges in Scotland were of wood, and were constructed from the 13th century onwards. Stone bridges began to appear around 1500, as was the case elsewhere in Europe.


Fords, Ferries, Floats and Bridges near Lanark, Thomas Reid, PSAS, Vol 47, (1912-13), pps 209-256

The author details all the crossings on the River Cyde from near Abington to Crossford, below Lanark, as well as on the Mouse which runs into the Clyde at Lanark. As well as giving the history of the crossings, he details the associated routes, some of considerable antiquity.


The Roads and Bridges in the Early History of Scotland, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol 47, (1912-13), pp303-33

This is a very useful account of roads and bridges up to the 16th century. Topics covered are references in early literature; references in contemporary documents including early mentions of placenames like Bridgend; the comparative chronology of bridges focussing on structural details as indicators of age; the history of the main Pre-Reformation bridges; and roads and bridges in the Pre-Reformation period.


The Most Ancient Bridges in Britain, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol.49, (1914-15), pps 256-74

This is similar to the above paper but covers England and Ireland as well as Scotland.


The Roads that led to Edinburgh etc, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol. 50, (1915-16), pps 18-49

The author examines the map and charter evidence for some early roads to Edinburgh, viz. Dere Street, Berwick, Roxburgh and Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk, Peebles, Biggar, Lanark, Hamilton and Glasgow. He provides many interesting insights, not least that Dere Street (and other Roman roads) may be native routes adopted by the Romans.


Ancient Border Highways: The Minchmoor (Catrail) Road, the Wheel Causeway, the Annandale Forest Road, the Well Path, and the Enterkin, Harry R G Inglis, PSAS, Vol. 58 (1923-24), pps 203-23

The author provides detailed information on each of these roads, much of it obtained by examining them on the ground. This helped to clarify their original purpose and correct misleading or erroneous conclusions based on the examination of (sometimes) incorrect maps.

Particular points of interest are that the Minchmoor road was on the only east-west route and showed very early defensive works so was at least a potential invasion route in the Dark Ages. In the Middle Ages it may have been part of the route between Kelso Abbey and its Priory at Lesmahagow. He examines the Wheel Causeway and concludes that it was wrongly shown on the OS maps and identifies the correct route which was probably that between Carlisle and Berwick. He analyses the complicated network of routes north of Moffat and argues that the main Roman route to the Clyde was not by the road running to Crawford but rather by a more direct line to the Tweed and Broughton. Details are given of the Well Path which is part of the very old route between Edinburgh and Whithorn. He argues that the Enterkin route (Leadhills towards Thornhill), although important at a later date, may have originated in the need to transport lead to Dumfries.

Wheel Causeway map (based on 1905 OS map, with thanks)

A New Roman Mountain Road in Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire, I A Richmond, PSAS, Vol 80 (1945-46), pps 104-117

It had long been speculated that the isolated fort at Raeburnfoot (near Eskdalemuir) was linked somehow to the Roman Road network. Although this was thought to have been on a north-south line, no evidence had been found for this. A suggestion by R P Hardie (Roads of Mediaeval Lauderdale) that an old road running across Craik Moor might be Roman led to this route (heading for Trimontium) being examined and accepted as Roman. The paper gives full details of the remains of the road and is illustrated by maps.

- see map (for illustration only)

The Roman Road to Raeburnfoot, A Graham, PSAS, Vol 82, (1947-48), pps 231-234

Referring to the above paper, the author notes work that confirms the road continued south-west of Raeburnfoot, presumably to join the main north-south Roman road north of Lockerbie. He also discusses the possibility of a route down the Esk to Langholm and Netherby (3 miles NNE of Longtown).


Quarry to Abbey: an Ancient Fife Route, R Fyfe Smith and Rev. Norman M Johnston. PSAS, Vol 83 (1948-49), pps 162-167

The abbey in question is Balmerino, situated on the south side of the Tay opposite Dundee. In its chartulary mention is made of a right of way granted in the early 1200's to allow the monks to transport building stones from a quarry at Strathkinness, 3 miles west of St Andrews. The authors trace the likely course of the route, which was 8 miles in length, and identify segments that still remain. (see illustrative map and links)


An Old Road in the Lammermuirs, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol 83, (1948-49), pps 198-206

An account of a route running across the Lammermuirs from Long Yester (2 miles south of Gifford) to the valley of the Leader Water just above Lauder. It may have been part of a longer route between Haddington and Lauder and probably originated in mediaeval times.

Map of area (based on 1914 OS map, with thanks. Shows Military Survey routes) 

Roman communications in the Tweed Valley, Graham, A & Richmond, I A., PSAS, Vol.87, (1952-53), 63-71

An examination of the evidence for a Roman road running westward from Trimontium and Dere Street to link with the Roman roads in the Clyde Valley.


More Old Roads in the Lammermuirs, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol. 93 (1959-60), pps 217-35

This follows on from his paper listed above and examines a network of old routes across the Lammermuirs. The routes are Haddington to Duns, by Longformacus; Haddington to the Whiteadder Water; Dunbar to the Dye Water (west of Longformacus) and beyond; the Herring Road from Dumbar to Lauder; Whiteadder Water to the Dye Water; and the Military Survey's "Muir Road from Lauder to Dunbar". The routes were used for droving to England as well as for taking animals and farm produce to local markets. One or two of the routes may be mediaeval in origin.


Archaeology on a Great Post Road, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol. 96 (1962-63), pps 318-47

This paper examines the route/s taken by the road between Berwick and Edinburgh since early mediaeval times. Although it is very close to the line of the A1 (before recent improvements) from Edinburgh to Cockburnspath, the route south of here was by the A1107 as far as Huxton and then by minor roads through Ayton to rejoin the A1 just north of Berwick. The difficulties encountered by travellers at Ayton and Cockburnspath are detailed, as are changes made in the turnpike era. Interesting details of old bridges on the route are provided, as well as details of milestones.


The Military Road from Braemar to the Spittal of Glen Shee, Angus Graham, PSAS, Vol.97, (1963-64), pps 226-236

The author traces the course of this road, built about 1750, and provides detailed descriptions of those sections that still remain, along with historical details of its construction. Bridges on the route are also described.


Milestones and Wayside Markers in Fife, Walter M Stephen, PSAS, Vol 100 (1967-68), pp 179-184

This paper details the types of milestone to be found in Fife as well as wayside markers. The turnpike trusts associated with each type are identified, and details of their fabrication given when known.


The Scottish campaigns of Septimus Severus, Nicholas Reed, PSAS, Vol 107, (1975-76), pps 92-102

The author looks at the available evidence to reconstruct the Severan campaigns of 208-210. He argues for a preliminary campaign against the Selgovae, followed by an advance through Fife, and then campaigns up the east coast, supported by the fleet. Two coins of the period depict bridges and he suggests that one showing a bridge of normal construction was built over the Tay near Carpow ( 5 miles ESE of Perth, near Newburgh), and the other, a boat-bridge, was built at Queensferry with a road linking the two locations.


Roads and bridges in the Scottish Highlands: the route between Dunkeld and Inverness, 1725 -1925, G R Curtis, PSAS, Vol 110, (1978-80), pps 475-96

This paper examines the roads and bridges constructed in the Highlands by the Military authorities (the Wade and Caulfield roads), the Parliamentary Commission for Highland Roads and Bridges, and the Ministry of Transport in its early days. Details of how the roads were constructed in each period are given based on excavations undertaken prior to the A9 Trunk Road reconstruction, as well as descriptions of bridges in each period.


Two Roman Inscribed Stones and Architectural Fragments from Scotland (Ingliston Milestone, Inveresk Altar), G S Maxwell, PSAS, Vol 113, (1983), pps 379-390

The paper contains a discussion on how the Ingliston milestone could provide a clue to the route of Dere Street in this locality.


The Scottish Itinerary of Mary Queen of Scots, 1542-8 and 1561-8, Edward M Furgol, PSAS, Vol.117, (1987), pps 219-231

A detailed discussion of the journeys undertaken by Mary Queen of Scots throughout Scotland. The microfiche provides full itineraries.


"Here Chapman Billies Tak Their Stand": a pilot study of Scottish chapmen, packsmen and peddlars, Roger Leitch, PSAS, Vol 120 (1990), pps 173-188

This is a comprehensive account of chapmen, itinerant vendors who travelled the countryside with goods that were often difficult to obtain otherwise. The paper contains interesting details of the routes they followed and the dangers they faced on their journeys.

A Walk along the Antonine Wall in 1825: the travel journal of the Rev. John Skinner, Lawrence Keppie, PSAS, Vol 133 (2003), pps 205-244


Improving the roads and bridges of the Stirling area c 1660-1706, John G Harrison, PSAS, Vol 135 (2005), pps 287-307. The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi.org/10.5284/1000184)


The following author has numerous papers in the PSAS on castles in Scotland, mostly in the north-east. The papers selected below contain some reference to the siting of a castle in relation to early routes. The most comprehensive treatment of routes is in

"The Early Castles of Mar", Vol 63, "Corgarff Castle", Vol 61 and "Edzell Castle", Vol 65.


Simpson, W Douglas Note on Recent Excavations at Kildrummy Castle.Vol 54 (1919-1920) 134-45

Simpson, W Douglas The Architectural History of Huntly Castle. Vol 56 (1921-22) 134-63

Simpson, W Douglas The Royal Castle of Kindrochit in Mar.Vol 57 (1922-23), 75-97

Simpson, W Douglas The Development of Balvenie Castle. PSAS Vol 60 (1925-26), 132-48

Simpson, W Douglas Corgarff Castle, Aberdeenshire. PSAS Vol 61 (1926-27), 48-103

Simpson, W Douglas The Early Castles of Mar. (First Paper.) PSAS, Vol 63 (1928-29), 102-38

Simpson, W Douglas Edzell Castle. PSAS, Vol 65 (1930-31),115-7

Simpson, W Douglas Invermark Castle. PSAS, Vol 68 (1933-34), 41-50

Simpson, W Douglas The Barony, Castle, and Church of Rothiemay.PSAS Vol 69 (1934-35), 223-46

Simpson, W Douglas Fyvie Castle PSAS Vol 73 (1938-39), 32-47

Simpson, W Douglas Cairnbulg Castle, Aberdeenshire PSAS Vol 83 (1948-49)32-44

Simpson, W Douglas Glenbervie and its castle PSAS Vol 105 (1972-74), 255-61