Scottish drove roads

Scottish drove roads

Map prepared by Ian G Scott. Published in Haldane's 'The Drove Roads of Scotland'

Dogs accompanied their masters as they drove livestock to market and trysts in the late 18th and early 19th century. Cattle and sheep had to be walked slowly, so they didn’t lose weight. By the time they reached market, the harvest was ripe so the drovers stayed to party, earning extra money by working on the harvest. The drovers were rough, adaptable fellows, a source of news and great fun at the dances.

The farmers they worked for didn’t want their herd-dogs around their farms. So the drovers told the dogs to go home by themselves and the dogs walked, often for hundreds of miles, to reach home. They were fed at drovers’ inns along the way. Later, when the drover made his own way home, he paid the inn-keepers for the scran that the dogs had scoffed weeks earlier, if they hadn't paid in advance on their way to market.

In the 'Drove Roads of Scotland' (1952), Dr Haldane traced the history of the Scottish droving trade from its origins, from lawless Highland cattle thieving in the late sixteenth century to its position in the nineteenth century as the legitimate movement of cattle and sheep within the commercial life of Scotland, England and the Empire. The breeding, movement to new grazing and traffic of livestock to market was fundamental to the people of Scotland, as in all other pastoral countries; these activities can be traced back as far as historical records exist.

Dr Haldane began with the aim of discovering the routes used to bring Highland livestock, on the hoof, off the hills to the great markets in the Forth basin and the South. He gathered the material for his book from the personal recollections and inherited traditions of men and women from many parts of Scotland, but in the main he used scattered references in manuscripts and scanty printed sources - the Statistical Account of 1791-99 and surveys of agriculture that were undertaken.

Smugglers and reivers (rustlers) were constant problems. The outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor was a drover taking cattle from the Highland to the southern markets. His business thrived, and his reliability and honesty won him many clients. In 1712, one of Rob Roy’s drovers absconded with cattle and the massive sum of £1,000, part of the £2,800 which MacGregor had been given by the Duke of Montrose, one of his regular clients, to buy 200 Highland cows and bulls. Unable to repay the money, Rob Roy was made bankrupt, and thus began a long feud with the Duke whose factor, Graham of Killearn, evicted Mary and their four sons from their home at Craigroyston.
'A Parcel of Rogues: Legend of Rob Roy immortalised in tales of the greatest folk hero of them all' - Hamish MacPherson

After the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 Scotland lost some degree of identity and with it certain continental markets, but gained the advantages of a growing market in England and the Empire, this at a time of agricultural revolution. Historically the Treaty of Union itself is considered by many to be a prime example of horse-trading by vested interests! With the Highlands pacified and communications transformed, General Wade (1673-1748) and the military built roads and bridges. The map shows only the main drove roads; in reality there were few routes through the Glens or across the moors to the South that were not used at some time or another - it was dependent on ease of use, season and the type of beast being herded. The better routes also saw traders supplying crops, timber, textiles, whisky, fish, horses and hides.

The Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic: Fuadach nan Gàidheal, the "eviction of the Gael") was the forced displacement during the 18th and 19th centuries of a significant number of people from traditional land tenancies in the Scottish Highlands, where they had practiced small-scale agriculture. Dr Haldane devotes a chapter to 'The Coming of Sheep', though he documents mainly the concerns of the high-ranked, ex-military and capitalist landowners rather than the plight of the evicted tenants, probably because that's what written accounts concentrated on: sadly that's how history is often recorded and then taught. 'I have lived to woful days,' an Argyllshire chieftain said in 1788. 'Now the only question asked concerning a man's rank is how many sheep his lands will carry.'

Haldane recorded the contemporary background to droving: the evolution of agriculture, the roads, the development of communications, the drovers' dogs, traditions and practices, changing trading patterns, and the interplay between politics and economics. As now, Scotland suffered the consequencies of British foreign policy; constant wars affected the droving trade, leading to uncertain commercial policies; on the plus side salted beef was in great demand for ships' crews. History, people and the landscape are blended into a fascinating amalgram in his book.

Further reading:- 'The drovers' - Doric Columns
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Scottish drove roads

Scottish drove roads

Map prepared by Ian G Scott. Published in Haldane's 'The Drove Roads of Scotland'

Dogs accompanied their masters as they drove livestock to market and trysts in the late 18th and early 19th century. Cattle and sheep had to be walked slowly, so they didn’t lose weight. By the time they reached market, the harvest was ripe so the drovers stayed to party, earning extra money by working on the harvest. The drovers were rough, adaptable fellows, a source of news and great fun at the dances.

The farmers they worked for didn’t want their herd-dogs around their farms. So the drovers told the dogs to go home by themselves and the dogs walked, often for hundreds of miles, to reach home. They were fed at drovers’ inns along the way. Later, when the drover made his own way home, he paid the inn-keepers for the scran that the dogs had scoffed weeks earlier, if they hadn't paid in advance on their way to market.

In the 'Drove Roads of Scotland' (1952), Dr Haldane traced the history of the Scottish droving trade from its origins, from lawless Highland cattle thieving in the late sixteenth century to its position in the nineteenth century as the legitimate movement of cattle and sheep within the commercial life of Scotland, England and the Empire. The breeding, movement to new grazing and traffic of livestock to market was fundamental to the people of Scotland, as in all other pastoral countries; these activities can be traced back as far as historical records exist.

Dr Haldane began with the aim of discovering the routes used to bring Highland livestock, on the hoof, off the hills to the great markets in the Forth basin and the South. He gathered the material for his book from the personal recollections and inherited traditions of men and women from many parts of Scotland, but in the main he used scattered references in manuscripts and scanty printed sources - the Statistical Account of 1791-99 and surveys of agriculture that were undertaken.

Smugglers and reivers (rustlers) were constant problems. The outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor was a drover taking cattle from the Highland to the southern markets. His business thrived, and his reliability and honesty won him many clients. In 1712, one of Rob Roy’s drovers absconded with cattle and the massive sum of £1,000, part of the £2,800 which MacGregor had been given by the Duke of Montrose, one of his regular clients, to buy 200 Highland cows and bulls. Unable to repay the money, Rob Roy was made bankrupt, and thus began a long feud with the Duke whose factor, Graham of Killearn, evicted Mary and their four sons from their home at Craigroyston.
'A Parcel of Rogues: Legend of Rob Roy immortalised in tales of the greatest folk hero of them all' - Hamish MacPherson

After the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 Scotland lost some degree of identity and with it certain continental markets, but gained the advantages of a growing market in England and the Empire, this at a time of agricultural revolution. Historically the Treaty of Union itself is considered by many to be a prime example of horse-trading by vested interests! With the Highlands pacified and communications transformed, General Wade (1673-1748) and the military built roads and bridges. The map shows only the main drove roads; in reality there were few routes through the Glens or across the moors to the South that were not used at some time or another - it was dependent on ease of use, season and the type of beast being herded. The better routes also saw traders supplying crops, timber, textiles, whisky, fish, horses and hides.

The Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic: Fuadach nan Gàidheal, the "eviction of the Gael") was the forced displacement during the 18th and 19th centuries of a significant number of people from traditional land tenancies in the Scottish Highlands, where they had practiced small-scale agriculture. Dr Haldane devotes a chapter to 'The Coming of Sheep', though he documents mainly the concerns of the high-ranked, ex-military and capitalist landowners rather than the plight of the evicted tenants, probably because that's what written accounts concentrated on: sadly that's how history is often recorded and then taught. 'I have lived to woful days,' an Argyllshire chieftain said in 1788. 'Now the only question asked concerning a man's rank is how many sheep his lands will carry.'

Haldane recorded the contemporary background to droving: the evolution of agriculture, the roads, the development of communications, the drovers' dogs, traditions and practices, changing trading patterns, and the interplay between politics and economics. As now, Scotland suffered the consequencies of British foreign policy; constant wars affected the droving trade, leading to uncertain commercial policies; on the plus side salted beef was in great demand for ships' crews. History, people and the landscape are blended into a fascinating amalgram in his book.

Further reading:- 'The drovers' - Doric Columns
Ref:
Date:
Location:
Photographer: