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Mediaeval Roads: Evidence from Charters
Stirling & Clackmannanshire

The maps below are based on the 1" OS map, sheet 39, 1906; the 1/2" map, sheet 23, 1913; the 1" map, sheet 64, 1926; the 1/4" map, sheet 3, Forth & Tay, 1923. With thanks to Ordnance Survey.

The charters referred to below can be found in the Registrum Monasterii de Cambuskenneth, AD 1147-1535, The Grampian Club, Edinburgh 1872.

Stirling - Road to the Ships Stirling - The Lang Causey St Ninian's Bridge of Earn Ford
Fuleche - Abbot's Carriage Road Tillicoultry Stirling - Road to Cuiltedouenald Bridge of Dunkeld Pontoon bridge
- Edward I
Stirling (town) Arngask Towns (Edinburgh, Berwick, Perth) Ferry Boat of Hood  

There was also a gift of land and access to a petary near Kirkintilloch (see Dumbartonshire)


Tower at Cambuskenneth AbbeyMost of the roads below are mentioned in charters of the Abbey of Cambuskenneth which lies just across the river from Stirling. Founded by David I around 1140 it became one of the weathiest monasteries in Scotland.

Most of the references are to local roads and tracks. Thus the road to the ships led down to the Shore at Stirling which could be reached by boats of the day. A little further on would take one opposite the abbey. One at Arngask led between the church and village. Several streets in towns are mentioned including St Mary's Wynd in Stirling that led from the castle towards the abbey. There would also have been tracks to the abbey's granges and to mills, though these are not mentioned.

There were a couple of longer routes from Stirling. The Lang Causey led north from the forerunner of the existing old bridge for a mile across marshy ground and to the south a main road led to St Ninians. Both of these are likely to have given access to major routes; the Lang Causey in fact accessed a via regia that ran along the foot of the Ochils and is mentioned in the Tillicoultry charter. The abbot's "great carriage road" probably crossed the Forth at the Abbey Ford and either went directly to Throsk where the abbots had a residence or joined a pre-existing route between Stirling and Airth.

Bridges and ferries are mentioned: apart from Stirling, there was the Bridge of Earn giving access to Perth and one at Dunkeld and there were ferries just east and west of the abbey, at Hood and at the Abbey Ford.

The most unusual reference is to a pontoon bridge built by Edward I for his campaign of 1303 so that he could bypass Stirling in his progress north. It is said to have contained close to 300 pontoons which would easily have spanned the Forth, probably somewhere above Kincardine. After use, it was put into storage at Berwick but brought north again for the campaign against Stirling Castle before finally being broken up and used in various building works.

Stirling - road to the ships

Three charters, dating from 1195, 1207 and circa 1150 respectively, refer to a road leading down from Stirling to the ships, as follows:

Charter 25, page 43
the land which lies on the bank of the Forth between Pulmille and the road leading down from Stirling to the ships
...terram que adiacet ripe de Forth inter Pulmille et viam que discendit de Striueling ad naues…(Abstract, page 330)

Charter 26, page 47
the land near the bank of the Forth between Polmilna and the road leading down from Stirling to the ships..
….terram que est iuxta ripam de Forth inter Polmilna et viam que discendit de Striuelingth ad naues...(Abstract, page 332)

Charter 190, page 278
.... the land lying between the Forth and the road leading from Stirling to the ships as far as the stream which comes down from the King's mill on the Forth..
.... terram que jacet inter Forth et viam que descendit de Striueling ad naues
vsque ad riuum qui descendit a molendino regis in Forth..(Abstract page 388)

Interpretation The road is shown on the above map and presumably continued as far as the point opposite the abbey. The mill referred to is probably the Burgh Mill which was served by a stream on which there was a dam just south of the mill (see 1st edition 6" map).

Fuleche - Abbot's Carriage Road

Charter 104, Page 136
This charter, dating from around 1200, confirms an earlier grant of land adjacent to the abbey’s carriage road leading past meadows near the Forth, viz.

Charter by Malcolm, the son of Malcolm the son of Roger, with advice and consent of his parents and friends, confirming the grant which Roger his grandfather and Malcolm his father made to the church of St.Mary of Cambuskenneth and the canons thereof, of the whole land adjacent to the west side of the Abbot's great carriage road leading to the meadows belonging to the burgesses, and so onwards to the Forth and to the river Fuleche, which falls into the Forth, and to a small sike which falls into the Fuleche from the east, and along by certain rocks back to the Abbot's great carriage road (Abstract, page 357)
scilicet, totam terram penes occidentalem partem adjacent magne vie quadrigarum abbatis que tendit vsque ad prata burgensium, et ita vsque ad aquam de Forth, et sic contra aquam de Forth descendentem vsque in quendam riuum qui vocatur Fuleche descendentem in Forth, et sic contra cursum de Fuleche vsque in quendam paruum sicum ab oriente descendentem in Fuleche, et tunc penes orientem vsque ad quamdam petram, deinde vero penes australem plagam vsque ad alteram petram, et deinceps penes orientem vsque ad terciam petram, et ita in prenominatam magnam viam quadrigarum abbati (original text, page 136)


Possible course of the Abbot's "Great Carriage Road". Another possibility is that there may have been a track of sorts between Stirling and Airth, and that the Abbot's road took a shorter route to join this before continuing to Throsk. Airth, which existed at the time, is about 4 miles beyond Throsk.

An entry in James Ronald's Landmarks of Old Stirling, 1899 (page 115) locates the road at the Borrowmeadow, saying: "Borrow-manis-meadow, also called the Meadows of the Burgesses, occupied a loop of the Forth on the south side opposite to Cambuskenneth, and is first brought before our notice in the year 1200 (entry above). The Abbots of Cambuskenneth had their residence at Throsk, and reference is made in that year to the "Abbots great carriage road leading past the Meadows of the burgesses," evidently from Throsk to the Abbey Ford."

This accords very well with the charter if we take the Fuleche to be the same as the burn to the east of the Town Burn under the Ferry Boat of Hood entry below. In addition, Fuleche is in this area as noted in a paper on Old Place-Names In And Near Stirling (The Stirling Antiquary - see page 170, Fuleth) .

Stirling (town)

Several charters relating to property mention St Mary‘s Vennel (a vennel is a narrow lane) and the common king‘s highway leading to the castle, in Stirling, viz:

Charter 211, page 301
.....lying in the vennel of the blessed Mary (St Mary's Vennel) on the east side of the same (school) which was Laurencii Dridane's from the north side of a tenement of a certain Walter Galbraith and on the south side of the king's street...
.....jacente in vinella beate Marie ex parte orientali eiusdem quod fuit quondam Laurencii Dridane ex parte boreali tenementi quondam Walteri Galbraith et ex parte australi vici regii (dated 1481)

Charter 212, page 302
...in the vennel of St Mary the Virgin on the western side of the same and the land of Thome Horne on the south side and the common vennel leading to the castle of the said burgh on the north side....
.....in vinella sancte Marie Virginis ex parte occidentali eiusdem et terram Thome Horne ex parte australi et communem vinellam ducentem ad castrum dicti burgi ex parte boreali (dated 1481)

Charter 213, page 306
… in the vennel of Sancte Marie between the land of Thome Horne on the south side, and the common king’s highway leading to the castle of the said burgh, on the north side
….in vinella Sancte Marie inter terram Thome Horne ex parte australi, et communem viam regiam ducentem ad castrum dicti burgi ex parte boreali (dated 1482)

Charter 210, page 299
This charter of 1412 mentions a Hillwynd in Stirling, leading to the bridge:
......lying in the burgh of Stirling and in the street called Hilweynd leading to, and opposite, the bridge of Forth from the western side of the same...
......jacens in burgo de Striueling et in vico qui dicitur Hilweynd, ducente et aduersus pontem de Forth ex parte occidentali eiusdem

Stirling - The Lang Causey

This ran from the bridge up to the spittal at Airthry (Causewayhead). James Ronald (Landmarks of Old Stirling, page 124) discusses a document dating from 1220 that records a dispute between the convent of North Berwick and Dunfermline Abbey over the tithes of Airthry and Cornton that mentions the road. The bridge would have been the forerunner of the present day old bridge, and is thought to have been about 180 yards upstream from this.

Relevant extracts from the document are:

- from the head of the Causeway at the point next to the hospital, as far as the peat moss of Airthrey;
- and the piece of land on the east side of the road which leads from the hospital to the town of Airthrey;
- hold in peace the tithes of the hospital lands lying betwixt the Causeway and Cornton.

The fact of this being a causeway is suggestive of it being the Roman road that passed through or close to Stirling but this is not certain. The ground it crossed was very marshy so it could have been a necessary complement to the bridge and contemporary with it.


Charter 222, page 315
In this charter, dating from c.1300, Colin Cambell, Lord of Tullicultry, granted the abbey and the church of Tillicoutry, 10 acres of land, along with two oxen to help with the tilling, viz.

Ten acres of arable land lying in the territory of Tillicoultry, namely, as the said land stretches from the said church by a path to the north, then proceeding west as far as the king’s highway, and from the said church as a stream extends and flows on the east to the same king’s highway towards the south…
... decem acras terre arabilis jacentes infra territorium de Tullicultre, videlicet, sicut dicta terra se extendit de dicta ecclesia per semitam in aquilone procedentem versus occidentem vsque ad viam regiam, et de dicta ecclesia sicut riuus se extendit et currit in parte orientali vsque ad eandem viam regiam versus merediem

The same land is mentioned in charter 223, page 316 (dated 1315) in almost exactly the same terms.

The church was sited near Tillicoultry House (NMRS record) and although it and the cemetery are not shown on the 1st edition 6" map, the stream is. It is now in a housing estate.

The via regia appears to be the old road that ran along the foot of the Ochils, parallel to and about half a kilometre north of the turnpike, now the A91. It is interesting to see that the towns along this route like Alva, Tillicoultry and Dollar originally had their centres where this road passed through.
The 1st series of the 1" map (Sheet 39, Stirling) shows sections of the road along its length.

It is hoped to form a "Hillfoots Way" using existing sections of the old road (see Ochils Landscape Partnership). Background details of the road and a description of existing stretches with photos can be found on Jimpson's Links - The Old Statute Labour Road along the Hillfoots

Arringrosk (Arngask)

Charter 22, page 34; see also page 327-8
In this charter of 1527, granting some land to be used for the manse, gardens and buildings of the chaplain serving the church of Arngask, there is mention of a road, viz:

....also two acres of land adjoining the cemetery of the said church on the south side of the same, and on the south side of a certain path or road which goes from the said cemetery to the nearby vill of Arryngrosk, (to be used) for the manse, garden, and buildings of the said lord Willelmi (the priest) and his succesors at the chapel...
.....necnon et duas acras terre continuo adiacentes cemiterio dicte ecclesie ad partem australem eiusdem, et ex parte australi cuiusdam semite seu vie qua itur de dicto cemiterio ad villam de Arryngrosk adiacentes, pro manso, ortis et edificiis dicti domini Willelmi et suorum successorum capellanorum (see also Abstract, page 328)

Although the church and cemetery can be identified, the Military Survey map shows the manse to the south-east of the kirk, close to where Arngask House is now rather than to the north-east as shown on more recent maps. This suggests the path was along this line, though presumably very short.

In the middle ages, the main route from Kinross to the Bridge of Earn and Perth ran through what is now the village of Glenfarg.

St Ninians, Kirktown

Charter 110, page 142

Charter by David, Bishop of St. Andrews, granting to the church of St. Ninian of Kirketoun, in name of endowment, that land which lay near the church, on the north side, between the great road from Stirling to Kirketoun and the footpath leading from the said road to the Bishop's houses near the church 1242 (
Abstract, page 359)
.... concessisse et hac carta nostra confirmasse Deo et ecclesie Sancti Niniani de Kirketoun, nomine dotis, terram illam que iacet prope dictam ecclesiam in parte aquilonari, inter magnam stratam que se extendit de Striueling vsque Kirketoun et semitam que procedit de ilia magna strata et se extendit usque domos episcopi sitas iuxta predictam ecclesiam... (original text, page 142)

From Adair's map (1685) and the Military Survey (c.1750), both of which show roads, this is very likely to be the old main road shown on the map (a new road runs to the east of this). James Ronald (Landmarks of Old Stirling, 1899, page 151-152) suggests the footpath was the one shown on the above map that led off this road and went to Braehead and Calton - it is now built over (see 25" map, Stirlingshire 017.07, 1897).

De escambio terre de Striuelin
On an exchange of land in Stirling
Register of Dunfermline: Charter 72, page 39. Barrow dated 1165x1174

This charter relates to King William compensating the abbey for encroaching on some of their land when making a park to the south-west of the castle. It mentions a magna strata leading south from Stirling to Cuiltedouenald. G W S Barrow suggests this might have been in St Ninian's parish. The following translation is from Stirling Castle, Eric Stair-Kerr, 1913 page 11/12

"William King of Scots to all good men of his whole realm greeting. Know that I have granted and given and by this charter have confirmed to God and the Church of the Holy Trinity at Dunfermline and the monks there serving God and to the Chapel of my Castle of Stirling in exchange for their land which I formerly included in my park, when I first enclosed my park, the land which is between their land which they have outside the park and the boundary of the land of Kirkton, and on the other side the land which is between Cambusbarron - the land of Peter of Stirling - and the land of Roger, son of Odo, as the highway (magna strata) leads to Cuiltedouenald, as Richard Morville, the constable, Robert Avenel, the justiciar, Ralph the sheriff and Peter of Stirling have marked it out: to be held in perpetual alms. Witnessed by Richard de Morville, constable, Robert Avenel, justiciar, Alan, son of the Steward, Adam, son of Thomas, Roger de Voloniis, Ralph, Sheriff of Stirling, Peter of Stirling, Walter de Berkeley, Richard the clerk, At Stirling."

See also G W S Barrow, RRS II, The Acts of William I, 1971, pps 206/7, 494

Charter 467, page 366

This charter mentions a via regia in Stirling.

Towns (Edinburgh, Berwick, Perth)

Charter 96, page 127 Edinburgh

Mention of Cougait

Page xxiii, Berwick
land in St. Mary's Street in the town of Berwick

Charter 195, page 281 Perth
This concerned a croft of land lying near the place of the Carthusians of Perth on the north side and the common way on the western side.
.....jacentis prope locum Cartusiensium de Perth ex parte boreali et occidentali vie communis

The monastery is thought to have been in King Street near to Canal Street, and to have been established in 1426.

Bridge of Earn

Charter 182, page 261
This charter, dating from 1530 and relating to part of the lands of Kintulach, refers to the Bridge of Erne, viz.
...lying in the parish of Dunbarney, near the Bridge of Erne, in the shire of Perth
...infra parochial de Dunberny prope pontem de Erne infra vicecomitatum de Perth (for further information see
Abstract, page 384)

Bridge of Dunkeld

Charter 184, page 268
This charter, dating from 1260, mentions the bridge of Dunkeld.

Ferry Boat of Hood
Page cxvii In a document of 1709 on the disposal of the lands of Cambuskenneth there is a mention of the ferry boat of Hood.

A footnote on page cxviii says, "In a recent question as to the salmon-fishings in the Forth, it is explained that the lands contained in that disposition are situated on the left bank of the Forth, and extend from a considerable distance, at least a mile above the shore or harbour of Stirling, as far down as the Ruddery Pow, about a mile below the shore of Stirling. The farm of Hood begins within the upper march mentioned at the point marked "Ferry," on the map referred to, and runs down near to the Ruddery Pow along the river side all the way."

The map shows Hood and the ferry. The only uncertainty is the identification of Ruddery Pow. From the ferry to the Town Burn is 1380 yards, and 2400 yards to the stream east of this. As a mile in 1707 would have been approximately 1976 yards rather than 1760 yards, the Ruddery Pow could have been either of these streams.


"On 1st June 1604, the Magistrates of Stirling directed that the ford at the back of the Abbey, and beside the Blackwilly, be red and cleaned of the stones therein, which stopped the passage of the same."
From page cxi of the Register. Original reference from Records of the Town of Stirling, vol.1597 to 1619.

This must be the ford to the east of the abbey as seen on the above map.

Pontoon Bridge - Edward I

In volume 2 (no.1375) of the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland (edited by Joseph Bain, Edinburgh, 1884) details are given of preparations carried out in King's Lynn for the construction of a pontoon bridge to be used in Edward I's Scottish campaign of 1303-4. He had wanted a bridge in 1302 but it was delayed through lack of funds. A similar bridge had been constructed at Anglesey in 1283.

The purpose of the bridge was to outflank the obstacle of Stirling Castle which guarded the route to the north. There were English garrisons north of the Forth which were linked by the sea and by ferries to the south of Scotland but these would be insufficient to transport and supply an invading army.

In his paper, Wall-Breakers and River-Bridgers: Military Engineers in the Scottish Wars of Edward I, Journal of British Studies, v.10, 1971, A. Z. Freeman gives additional details of the construction which make clear what a huge undertaking it was. Some 300 pontoons were made, of three types, main, middle and fixed and were taken by sea from King's Lynn by 30 vessels. Spares were held at Berwick while the bulk were sent up to the Forth.

The Forth between Kincardine and Stirling. In the middle ages the river was wider and may have had a slightly different course in places.

It is not at all certain where the bridge was placed. The number of pontoons would easily allow a crossing of hundreds of yards which would make it feasible for it to be placed upriver from Kincardine where the river today is half a mile wide. It is unlikely to have been placed much higher than Alloa as this would take it too near to Stirling.

The bridge did not take long to erect and was crossed in early June 1303 with the king spending a day or two at Clackmannan, although Pierre de Langtoft (The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft, vol.2, p.349), a contemporary chronicler, says it was not needed though it is hard to see how infantry and baggage trains could cross the Forth unless water levels were extremely low at any fording point.

Once Edward had finished his campaign in the north he turned his attention to Stirling. Watson (p.234) refers to documents that show that the bridge was to be brought to Blackness and then to the king who was staying at Cambuskenneth across the river from Stirling.

The final mention of the bridges is in 1304-5 under item 1722 (CDS) where "all the timber, boards, apparatus and other machinery of the bridges made by the King for his crossing Forth, which remain in the Chamberlain's custody at Berwick-on-Tweed" were to be used for building works in several locations.

Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, edited by Joseph Bain, Edinburgh, 1884
, Vol.2, (no.1375)
Haskell, Michael Alexander (1991) The Scottish campaign of Edward I, 1303-4, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/6101/
Watson, Fiona Jane (1991) Edward I in Scotland: 1296-1305. PhD thesis. Glasgow University. http://theses.gla.ac.uk/2222/
Wall-Breakers and River-Bridgers: Military Engineers in the Scottish Wars of Edward I, A. Z. Freeman, Journal of British Studies, v.10.1971