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Pathfinder Pack on General Wade's Military Roads and Forts



After the 1715 Rebellion, the government decided to build a network of military roads in the Highlands so that any future uprisings would be easier to crush. General George Wade was appointed to oversee this task. He built over a thousand miles of road and built new barracks at many key points in the Highlands. You can search Scran to find out more about these military roads, bridges and forts. The first photograph in this Pathfinder shows the military road that was built through the Sma' Glen in Perthshire by General Wade. The photo was taken in 1899, over 150 years after the road was built. The roads built by General Wade were of the highest standard. They replaced roads that were little more than dirt tracks and were often impassable in bad weather. Military Roads were built so that large numbers of troops and artillery could be moved quickly around the Highlands. A second photo shows the magnificent bridge that General Wade constructed over the River Tay at Aberfeldy. The most important of the military roads Wade built was the one ran between Dunkeld and Inverness. A road was built linking from that road to Crieff, crossing the River Tay at Aberfeldy. The Bridge has 5 arches and is 400 feet across. It was completed in 1735 at a cost of over £4000. Some of Wade's military roads are still in use today. The road building programme of General Wade required a large number of soldiers. These soldiers had to be housed and fed. This led to the building a number of stone houses, called Kingshouses. Once the roads were finished, these buildings were used to accommodate officials and soldiers carrying out maintenance. Most of these Kingshouses eventually became inns and can still be found all over the Highlands. Road building in the Highlands wasn't an easy task. A photograph shows a boulder that lay across the route. A passing traveller wrote an account of the soldiers as they struggled with the boulder. They found some human remains under the stone and concluded that they must be those of a Roman soldier. Later evidence suggest the bones came from prehistoric times. As well as building military roads, General Wade undertook the task of building and upgrading barracks for housing troops to be permanently stationed in Scotland. Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie were constructed in 1722 and General Wade had stables added to them in 1734. The ruin of the barracks are still open to the public today. Another Barracks built by General Wade are those situated at Bernera. These barracks were positioned to guard the crossing to Skye. The barracks were completed in 1723 and were designed to house four companies of soldiers. The barracks were occupied until 1790, but by then the Jacobite cause was long gone and the garrison was manned by only one soldier. General Wade built a fort at the Southern end of Loch Ness in 1730. This was a strategic site half way up the Great Glen and one of the main routes through the Central Highlands at the time. There are military roads built at this time that are still in use today on the Eastern shore of Loch Ness. The map in this Pathfinder was completed in 1746, just after the end of the final Jacobite uprising. It gives a good picture of the road network built by General Wade. If you click on the map you can use the zoom view to examine it in detail.

General Wade's Military Roads and Forts

Military Road through the Sma' Glen Aberfeldy Bridge Kingshouses
Boulders Ruthven Barracks Bernera Barracks
Fort Augustus Map of Highland Roads 1746

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Scran ID: 000-000-001-455-L
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