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Craik Muir Roman Road

Start location: B709, Eskdalemuir (NY 250 988)
End location: Unclassified road just south of Craik (NT 339 078)
Geographical area: Lothian and Borders
Path Type: Pilgrimage Route, Roman Road
Path distance: 13.2km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians

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Route Description

Eskdalemuir is 21km by the B709 up Eskdale from Langholm. Leave this road at Eskdalemuir where it turns left to cross the White Esk and follow the minor road going north on the east side of the river to go over the hill to Raeburnfoot (remains of Roman fort on the left). From there go up the Rae Burn for 2km and at NT267007* leave the forest road and go uphill northeast on forest rides, where there is some evidence of the Roman Road, to cross another forest road at NT278024. The Roman Road is then close to and intersects other forest rides and careful map work is required here to avoid following the wrong ride. Continue over Craik Muir and Lamblair Knowe to Craik Cross Hill (449m), the highest point on the route. This part is through the extensive Eskdalemuir and Craik Forests where notices are displayed denoting sites of historical interest.

*ScotWays recently (August 2017) received a report that at this point the forest has been felled. The ground is said to be very rutted and covered with high grass and shrub - no path or track could be located. This will be investigated by volunteers in due course, but in the meantime, additional reports as to the conditon of this and other parts of the route will be especially welcome.

OS Landranger 79 (Hawick & Eskdale area)

Heritage Information

This road is said to have been an excellent feat of engineering by the Romans as there are lengthy cuttings and terraces where the bedrock has been exposed and used as the road surface. There are also sections of holloway where extensive use has worn the surface of the road down so that it is now several metres below the surface of the surrounding land. This is quite common on very old roads.

The small Roman fort at Raeburnfoot is thought to be Antonine in date. Craik Cross Hill is fascinating because it is the likely site of a Roman watchtower or signal station, but was later reused with a cross marker stone on the hill. This may have been a route used by pilgrims to get to Whithorn, so the cross would have been a sign to guide people there. As it was such a well constructed road it would have made sense to use it as a main route well into medieval times. Indeed, the road has been theorized to be the same road mentioned in a 13th century charter as the royal road from the valley of Annan towards Roxburgh.

D G Moir in "Southern Hill Tracks" conjectures about the possibility of the Roman road originally extending from Craik all the way to Black Craig, Harelaw, and Firth and a possible connection with Dere Street.





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Copyright: Richard Webb



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