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Cadgers' Craig To Eldinhope

Drove Road (Post Medieval)

Site Name Cadgers' Craig To Eldinhope

Classification Drove Road (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Old Road, Ettrick To Traquair

Canmore ID 344795

Site Number NT22SE 30

NGR NT 2954 2235

NGR Description NT 296 210 to NT 298 237

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Yarrow
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Selkirkshire


Field Visit (11 May 1952 - 12 July 1952)

Old Road, Ettrick to Traquair.

Roy's map of 1747-55 marks a road as running from the Yarrow valley, at Craig of Douglas, to Traquair, by way of the Douglas and Craighope Burns and Blake Muir, and adds the note ‘Muir road from head of Yarrow and Ettrick to Lothian Edge and Dalkeith’ (6). These words show that Roy regarded this length of road as part of a through route leading from Ettrick into and over the Moorfoot Hills by way of the Leithen and Glentress Waters and the Dewar Burn. He shows no connection between the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, but this may have been provided by a track as shown on Ainslie's map of 1772 - namely from Crosslee in Ettrick, over the watershed between the Crosslee Burn and Long Grain, and down to the Yarrow Water at the mouth of the Douglas Burn - or, if the route ran strictly by the ‘head’ of Yarrow, as in Roy's original legend, by one of the tracks described under [RCAHMS 1957] Nos. 109 and 110.

In the Ettrick valley itself, upstream from Crosslee, no remains of an old road survive, but some traces of what may well be the one shown on Ainslie's map can be seen on the Crosslee Burn. These traces [NT22SE 27] were first found on the left bank (1) between points about a quarter of a mile respectively below and above the inflow of White Sike and rounding a bluff formed by the W. shoulder of Crookedside Hill. From the head of the Crosslee Burn to the rocky outcrop marked "Cadgers' Craigs" on the O.S. map (2) the ascent is extremely steep; three alternative hollow tracks negotiate the first rise from the moss where the burn has its origin, and the scarping of the roadway can be seen below and beside the Craigs. The parish boundary is crossed 100 yds. SW. of the point shown on the O.S. map - where, however, the stock-gate is situated and thence, with the exception of a considerable gap in heavy grass at about NT 296 220, somewhat intermittent traces of a terraced road [NT22SE 30] can be followed above the right bank of Long Grain till it descends to a ford at NT 296 224. In places this road is as much as 20 ft. wide, but the lowermost section, which has been partly cut out of the rock, is a hollowed terrace with a track only 6 ft. wide. Faint traces of older hollow tracks can be seen curving down to the ford from above this improved stretch. From the ford, which itself seems to have been improved, the road crosses a neck to the W. face of Meg's Hill; from there to its junction with the highway near Eldinhope Cottage any early features have been disguised by modern use.

The section of the road between Craig of Douglas farm and Blackhouse Tower (NT22NE 4), in the valley of the Douglas Burn, has been modernised; its predecessor must have been difficult and subject to interruption by washouts and flooding. From Blackhouse Tower a terraced roadway, still regarded as passable for carts, mounts the E. side of the valley of the Craighope Burn about half-way up the slope, with an alternative much-wasted track visible at a still higher level; no traces of these, however, are visible on the peaty ground on the crest, although a gate has been provided in the county march-dyke (NT 291288) for the passage of traffic. Beyond the dyke (3) faint traces of a hollow track begin to appear in heavy grass, and on the descent from Middle Rig to Yellow Mire Burn this becomes quite easy to identify. The crossing is made just above an awkward, steep-sided gully. Two well-marked terraced tracks then turn the small feature that separates Yellow Mire Burn from an unnamed left-bank tributary, and continue obliquely NE. up the slope of the shoulder beyond. Faint traces of a third track mount the shoulder directly northwards. On the descent to the head of the Sprain Burn four very distinct terraced tracks continue the line of the more easterly route, while two more come down from the top of the shoulder. Beyond the Sprain Burn the road, which from here onwards seems to have been in fairly recent use, rises towards the eastern summit of Blake Muir, while a subsidiary track, which is greatly overgrown, diverges in a northerly direction to cross over to the Quair Water by the valley of the Weil Burn. From the summit of Blake Muir the road pursues an easy course down a shoulder and along the ridge of Newhall Hill, until it enters enclosed land and old cultivations at NT 308321. The whole of this section appears as an improved cart-track; but from above faint traces of older tracks can be seen alongside, and, near the head of the plantation (NT 308321), at least one such older track is clearly visible and also the trails of droved animals.- In the enclosed ground the older traces disappear, and the road, in the form of a modernised but twisty lane, eventually comes down to the modern highway just S. of Traquair Church.

The northernmost stretch of this road is evidently one of the ancient Thief roads, or King's roads, which Hogg mentions (4) as being still kept open for traffic in his time. He calls it the "one over the Kirk-ridge of Traquair”.

RCAHMS 1957, visited 11 May, 27 June and 12 July 1952.

NT 305185 - 319333

OS map: x SW. ("B.R."); x NW. (dotted line); xiv SW. ("B.R." and unnoted); xiv NW. ("B.R."). Peeblesshire: xvii SE., xviii SW. (dotted line); xviii NW.


(6) This is the wording of the legend on the original map while the copy (2 ½ m. to 1 inch) omits the words " head of".

(1) The O.S. map marks a "bridle road" running from Crosslee along Ainslie's general line and coalescing with the modern highway about 300 yds. SW. of Eldinhope Cottage; but the section of it between Crosslee and the parish boundary at 296210 shows considerable signs of improvement, and the older route is more probably the one that keeps to the valley, as described here.

(2) This name, like "Cadgers' Hole" half a mile nearer Crosslee, suggests the use of the road by hawkers and gypsies, as in the case of the Roman route from the Borthwick Water to Eskdale (Inventory of Roxburghshire, p. 403, n.4)

(3) The road has now entered Traquair parish, Peebleshire.

(4) "Statistics of Selkirkshire" in Prize-Essays and Transactions of the Highland Society of Scotland, ix (1832), 288-9. Cf. p. 28 supra.

Field Visit (12 January 1988)

Site visited by Scottish Borders Council Archaeology Service. Information from SBC

Field Visit (16 September 2020)

The route of an old road can be traced intermittently for just over 5 km from Crosslee (NT 3058 1889) north to Eldinhope (NT 2999 2398), first ascending east of the Crosslee Burn to cross the high ground on the watershed between the Ettrick Water and the Yarrow Water, descending east of the Long Grain burn, before finally traversing the western flank of Meg’s Hill. The map and field evidence show indications of multiple phases and connections to other roads, demonstrating the enduring use of this route across the watershed.

The road is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Selkirkshire 1863, sheet xiv), as a bridle road (BR) on the 2nd edition (1900, sheet xiv SW and NW), and it is still shown on the current OS map, though some of the southern part has been slighted by ploughing where it runs through improved fields. In addition to this route, fragmentary traces of another, perhaps earlier, road are visible to the east of the Crosslee Burn at NT 2999 1978 and NT 2992 2022, and to the west of Cadgers’ Craigs at NT 2944 2090. Further to the north, an earlier route can also be identified at NT 2954 2194 and at least two additional roads approach the crossing of the Long Grain burn from the south at NT 2955 2236 before the routes join and run along the west flank of Meg’s Hill.

This route was identified as a possible drove road by Haldane (1952, 155), and described in more detail by RCAHMS as part of a route from Ettrick to Traquair (1957, No. 105, p.84 (para.2)). For a more general discussion of drove roads, and the difficulty of identifying specific features in southern Scotland, see Haldane (1952, 150-152) and RCAHMS 1957 (xi, 4, 27-8, 77-8).

Visited by HES Survey and Recording (GFG) 16 September 2020.

Field Visit (2020)

NT 30000 24000 A rapid walkover survey was conducted in June 2020 by Peeblesshire Archaeological Society in advance of proposed forestry on the rough grazing to the S of Eldinhope Cottage, an area defined roughly by the catchment of the Eldinhope Burn. The following sites were located with handheld GPS (accuracy level 5m).

Meg’s Hill:

NT 30210 23785 (centred).A sinuous pre-improvement field bank is visible extending E in a rough semi-circle from the corners of the modern field on the W side of the burn (visible on Bing Aerial).

NT 30260 23670 Turf shieling huts.

NT 30155 23595 U-shaped building, open at E end, possibly a sheep house with banks standing to c1m in height.

NT 30183 23496 Quarry.

NT 30098 23037 There was a string of small quarries along the E crest of the ridge of Meg’s Hill.

NT 30016 22762Roughly circular pit, possibly a tree throw.

NT 29829 22682 Sheepfold. Not on 1st Edition OS map, but appears on 2nd Edition OS map.

NT 29700 22646 Hut and attached bank running S from it at the foot of the hill slope, probably a shepherd’s store and gathering place.

Long Grain Burn:

NT 29648 22420. Corrugated iron shed with timber uprights, mostly collapsed, and an arc of bank on N of Long Grain Burn, with a drystone sheep pen immediately to W.

NT 29543 22320 Curvilinear bank on the terrace to W of Long Grain Burn, probably the remains of a sheep enclosure, but only one side found.

A drove road crosses Long Grain Burn to E of the bank above. This is part of the drove way, which runs from NT 29856 23720 to S of Eldinhope Cottage along the W of Meg’s Hill as far as Cadgers Craigs at NT 29621 21032. Where it is not in boggy ground it may still be followed as a hollow way. Canmore ID: 344795.

Mid Rig:

NT 29905 22271 Scatter of small earthen heaps on a terrace on the N flank of Mid Rig, probably tree throws.

Eldinhope Burn:

NT 30461 22530. Right angled stone wall set into the bank of an unnamed stream that runs into the Eldinhope Burn immediately to E of sheepfold and livestock pens (item 14 below), either a dam, or possibly a sheep dip.

NT 30441 22544 The sheepfold W of the previous item first appears in roughly this form as a rectangular fold on the 2nd Edition OS map, but within a larger fenced enclosure, having previously been circular with a roofed building on the 1st Edition OS map.

NT 30651 22660 A drystone enclosure or sheepfold on a terrace S of the Eldinhope Burn partly formed against rock outcrop.

NT 30704 22963 Sheepfold on both the 1st and 2nd Editions OS maps.

NT 30487 23664 Sheepfold on both the 1st and 2nd Editions OS maps which is now eroding into the burn.

NT 30482 23755 (centred) Eldinhope Tower, yards and enclosures on a terrace to the E of the Eldinhope Burn. Canmore ID 53094.

NT 30202 23907 (centred) Farmstead set on either side of burn. Large ranges robbed to footings on terraces in gully on E of Eldinhope Burn. One platform lies on the W of the burn. Canmore ID: 344815.

NT 30281 23853 Enclosure on a promontory on the edge of the river terrace W of the Eldinhope Burn. Canmore ID 344814.

Archive and Report: Peeblesshire Archaeological Society. Report: Scottish Borders HER

Funder: Forest Direct

Piers Dixon, Stratford Halliday, Joyce Durham – Peeblesshire Archaeological Society

(Source: DES Volume 21)

Scottish Borders Smr Note

Runs on track. via Eldin Hope Cottage to mouth ofDouglas Burn & then up Douglas Burn & Craig hopeBurn. To District/Parish Boundary.

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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