Ancient Monuments

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18th century military road and bridge, Allt na Bhàthaitch

A Scheduled Monument in Highland, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.8214 / 56°49'17"N

Longitude: -4.1866 / 4°11'11"W

OS Eastings: 266638

OS Northings: 772125

OS Grid: NN666721

Mapcode National: GBR JB1P.DZ5

Mapcode Global: WH4KL.NSKZ

Entry Name: 18th century military road and bridge, Allt na Bhàthaitch

Scheduled Date: 26 October 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13726

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: bridge

Location: Blair Atholl/Blair Atholl

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Highland

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises a section of engineered military road and bridge, likely to date to between 1728 and 1730. It survives as a partially obscured metalled track, terraced into the upslope on its north side with a bank on the south side. At the western end is a small bridge which is contemporary with the road. The monument is in moorland, above and to the north of the A9 and at 420m above sea level. This section is part of a longer branch of 18th century road construction, connecting Dunkeld with Inverness.

This section of road is approximately 15m long up to 3m wide and includes evidence of a bank on its south side. The north side is partially terraced into the hillside. At the western end of this section is a bridge, approximately 1m wide and 2m in length. The south face of the bridge has been eroded and only the base layer of stonework survives.

The scheduled area is irregular. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past as a section of 18th century military road engineering in the Highlands of Scotland. It is a component of a wider network of roads providing improved access along key natural and established historical routes and between strategic and military locations. As part of a longer branch of constructed road, it has a lasting impact on the local landscape and its function as a communications route has far-outlived its original purpose.

b. The monument retains structural and buried archaeological features which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular it survives to a marked degree with elements of its profile visible. This profile characterises military roads construction of the period. This section of road is well-preserved, distinct and includes the remains of a small well-preserved bridge at its western end.

d. The monument is a particularly good example of 18th century military road building in Highland Perthshire and is therefore an important representative of this monument type. 

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past, particularly the study of military planning, road construction and the exploitation of landform and topography to improve lines of physical communication across Scotland. It retains significant historic and social interest for us because of the wider, prevailing political and military situation in Scotland at the time.

f. The monument makes a significant contribution to understanding of the historic landscape by being a physical reminder of this important strategic routeway. It's location by the modern A9 highlights that almost 300 years after its completion this road transformed the transport infrastructure of northern Scotland.

g. The monument has significant associations with historical, traditional, social or artistic figures, events or movements - the monument has a significant association with the transformation of the society and culture of the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century during the period of the Jacobite Risings. The road was built as part of a wider networks of routes for use by Government forces to control the Scottish Highlands This programme of military road building was undertaken by two key British military figures - General George Wade and Major William Caulfeild.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument is a 15m length of military road constructed in the early- to mid-18th century as part of road which linked Dunkeld and Inverness. This section of road is visible as a routeway partially cut into the hillside with evidence of the banks, hillside cutting, a bridge and underlying deposits. It was built as part of a programme of road building intended to increase Government control over the Highlands of Scotland. The construction work was undertaken by soldiers of various British Army regiments and contracted groups of local men.

The road was engineered to take troops, their horses and their heavier, wheeled wagons with a planned road width of between 3.05m and 4.88m. At this section the road is less than 3m due to the difficult hillside topography. The roads generally followed straight lines where possible and contoured around hills. Other natural obstacles such as water courses were generally avoided, however, where crossing was necessary, ferries, fords and bridges were used. The road was made by excavating down to the natural gravels or rock and then backfilled with stone in various sizes. A final layer of gravel was used to seal the upper surfaces. The excavated material was banked up on the sides, separating the surface from adjacent drainage ditches. Culverts were used to take water courses under the road. These roads often survive as linear features cutting across the landscape - with a distinct profile of banks either side of a hollow way.

The bridge at the western end of this section of road (NN 66633 72129) is a small for a military road bridge. It is only c. 1.5m wide by 2m in length. It was constructed to cross an unnamed stream course to the west of Allt na Bhàthaitch. It is constructed of coursed rubble with a soil fill. The north face of the bridge shows the distinct voussoir arrangement characteristic to military bridges on these roads; larger vertical stones interspaced by smaller vertical infills. The south face has been eroded, however, the footings remain, and the internal fill is visible as a result. The bridge is near to The Wade Stone (2.7km east-south-east: scheduled monument SM13727) and is likely to have been built in 1729.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

There was an estimated total of 1700km of military road built in Scotland (approximately 400km by General Wade and 1300km by Major Caulfeild) between the early 1720s and the late 1750s.

The first programmes of work started in 1725 Under Wade's command, Repairs were made to various fortifications including Edinburgh Castle and at Fort William and new forts were built at Inverness (Fort George) and Killihuimen (Fort Augustus). Road communications and connections were improved between the garrisons at Fort William, Fort Augustus and Fort George. The roads programme then focused on expanding the network between Dunkeld and Inverness (later known as 'The Great North Road') with branches connecting Crieff to the Great North Road at Dalnacardoch (later known as 'The Second Great North Road') and Fort Augustus to the Great North Road at Dalwhinnie. The second major programme of works was overseen by Wade's successor, Major William Caulfeild, with branches constructed, from 1741 onwards, between: Crieff and Stirling, an incomplete build between Dumbarton and Inverary, Stirling to Fort William, Coupar Angus to Fort George, and Amulree to Dunkeld.

The National Record for the Historic Environment indicates a variety of recorded military heritage dating to the 18th century. The growing road network is just one element of this heritage and complements many other forms, including: barracks, forts, road bridges, and King's houses.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

The network of 18th century military roads has close historical associations with people and events of national importance. The military road building programme had very significant political and social impacts on the Highlands of Scotland during the 18th century. The roads and bridges are directly associated with Major General George Wade and Major William Caulfeild, who oversaw the planning and construction of the network.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Ang, T., and Pollard, M., 1984, Walking the Scottish Highlands – General Wade's Military Roads, Andre Deutsch Limited: London

Bruce, R., 1931, 'The Great North Road over the Grampians', Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers' 232 (2):113-30

Curtis, G.R., 1978-80, 'Roads and Bridges in the Scottish Highlands: the Route between Dunkeld and Inverness 1725-1925', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 110: pp.475-96

Farquharson, L. 2011, General Wade's Legacy: The 18th Century military road system in Perthshire, Perth and Kinross Trust, Farquhar and Son: Perth

Mackenzie, K., 1895-99, 'Military Roads', The Inverness Scientific Society and Field Club, 5: pp364-384

Millar, R., 1967, 'The Road North', Scottish Geographical Magazine, 83 (2), 78-88

Ruddock, T., 1979, Arch Bridges and their Builders 1735-1835, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge

Salmond, J.B., 1938, Wade in Scotland, The Dunendin Press Limited: Edinburgh

Skelton, R.A, 1967, The Military Survey of Scotland 1747-1755, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, 83(1):pp.5-16

Taylor, W., 1976, The Military Roads in Scotland, SRP Limited: Exeter

Wallace, T., 1911, 'Military Bridges and Fortifications in the Highlands with Bridges and Milestones', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 45: pp 318-33

"Commander in Chief of all his Majesty's Forces, Castles, Forts and Barracks in Northern Britain", =Letter-book of Field Marshall George Wade, 1725-1732. Manuscript held at National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. MS7187

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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