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Scotland History Geography Transport GIS Toll Roads Turnpikes Toll House Map


Unlike studies of their English counterparts, Scotland's toll road network has lain in relative obscurity, unmapped (until now), undiscussed, fleetingly referenced, and largely neglected.  Despite this, Scotland’s toll roads were dramatically extensive and by the mid 19th century covered Scotland head to toe barring the North-West Highlands.



Scotland History Geography Transport GIS Toll Roads Turnpikes Toll House Map

ESRI’s Arc GIS Geographic Information System software was used to map Toll Roads for three time periods: (1750-1770); (1770- 1790); and (1790-1800) in three stages. The first stage identified the Toll Roads using the historical sources, a Road Atlas, Google Maps, and two free digital datasets of the road network of Scotland: OpenStreetMap ( and OS OpenData (  The second stage used the Search by Attributes function, sub-setting the map dataset to create a new road map layer, and then adding two new fields to the attribute table: Toll Road (Text: Y/N) and Year (Integer: 1750, 1770, or 1790). The final stage involved populating the two new fields for each road.  Once completed, the map layers were checked and edited to correct any final mistakes.  The road layers were then mapped using the ArcGIS View, Layout function and the Year Field to represent the three years 1750, 1770, and 1790.

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Scotland History Geography Transport GIS Toll Roads Turnpikes Toll House Map

This study by McEwan and Green reconstructed the toll-road network up to 1800 using Arc GIS.  The maps produced helped to form many historical conclusions but ultimately demonstrate the importance of communications and connectivity in the formation of modern Scotland, a principle of development that applies around the world today.

The aim of this study was to take the first steps towards filling a gap in Scotland’s historiography by charting the chronological and geographical diffusion of Scotland’s turnpikes, answering key questions and identifying areas for further study. Scottish historians have highlighted dramatic speed as the defining characteristic of Scottish agrarian and industrial change during the late modern era.  This study has shown how these revolutions were intimately intertwined and mirrored by a road transport revolution as a result of the turnpike innovation.  Along with having an economic impact, Scotland’s turnpikes played an influential role in the social and cultural transformations of their era and ultimately in transforming the very fabric of Scottish life.

If you would like to find out more about Scotland's toll roads and the toll road project click the button below.

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