Ancient Monuments

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18th century military bridge and road, north east of Newton

A Scheduled Monument in Strathearn, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.473 / 56°28'22"N

Longitude: -3.7981 / 3°47'53"W

OS Eastings: 289331

OS Northings: 732658

OS Grid: NN893326

Mapcode National: GBR JCZL.YSB

Mapcode Global: WH5NN.MKLK

Entry Name: 18th century military bridge and road, NE of Newton

Scheduled Date: 10 November 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13737

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: road

Location: Fowlis Wester

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathearn

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises a bridge and section of engineered military road, likely to date to around 1730. The bridge survives as a stone built single arched structure and the road survives as a partially obscured metalled surface in moorland at around 290m above sea level. This section is part of a longer branch of an 18th century military road which connected Crieff with Aberfeldy.

The bridge is a simple, single arched military bridge crossing the Newton Burn. It is constructed of rubble with coarsely worked voussoirs forming the arch of the bridge. The flat carriageway is roughly metalled with no parapets. The bridge is sprung from the bedrock on either side of the burn. The section of road is approximately 1800m long by 3m to 5m wide and includes evidence of the cobbled road surface and underlying deposits as well as parallel construction ditches, drains, terracing and cutting and levelling of landscape. There are also number of large upright boulders located either side of the carriageway, especially in the southern section near the bridge, which are likely to have marked the route of the road.

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. Excluded from the schedule are the timber lined surface drains at the bridge and any post and wire fences and gates by the bridge and along the military road.

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, or has the potential to do so, as a section of 18th century military bridge and 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 includes the remains of a typical, single arched, rubble built military bridge surviving to carriageway level. There is also evidence of a cobbled surface along sections of the road and these are likely to seal underlying construction deposits. 

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. The bridge is a well-preserved example of an early military road bridge.

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 today's landscape and/or our understanding of the historic landscape by offering a clearly visible and fine example of 18th century military engineering. The bridge survives very close to its original appearance and the road is routed to exploit the local landform - contouring around the adjacent hillslope. The route of the modern trunk road to the east of the military road is broadly parallel and this follows a similar route through the local landscape.   

g. The monument has significant associations with historical, traditional, social or artistic figures, events or movements - it has a significant association with the transformation of society and culture in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century, during the broad 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 bridge and 1800m length of military road constructed in the early- to mid-18th century as part of a longer road route linking Crieff and Aberfeldy. The bridge is of rubble construction with a single arch. The line of the road is still visible, especially in areas where it cuts into the underlying geology. Surface cobbling survives and there is evidence of the parallel construction ditches on either side with clearance boulders flanking some sections, as well as drains and stretches of terracing. The clearance boulders located either side of the carriageway can be seen in the southern section near the bridge. They are likely to have been cleared from roadway and placed on the carriageway flanks to mark the route.

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. 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 - in several locations, the influence of estates over the design of bridges resulted in differences in their final form. 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.     

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.

This section of road forms part of the 'The Second Great North Road' (running south southwest – north northeast), connecting the military garrisons and barracks of Stirling with key locations further north, including Ruthven (Kingussie) and Fort George (Inverness). This is a representative section of the longer engineered routeway between Strathearn to the South and Strathtay to the North – located to the north of Glen Almond and skirting to the east of Meall Reamhar, towards Amulree.

The National Record for the Historic Environment indicates an interesting 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, 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



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE IDs 25560 and 87608 (accessed on 14/08/2020).

Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust HER References MPK954 and MPK7330 (accessed on 14/08/2020).

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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