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One of the oldest recreational signs in the world, now lost.  Taken by an unknown photographer. Heritage Paths Project
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St Martins Turnpike

Start location: Newlands, A94 northeast of New Scone (NO 150 275)
End location: east of Little Whitefield, west of A94 (NO 179 333)
Geographical area: Perth, Kinross and Stirling (part)
Path Type: Civil Road
Path distance: 8km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians

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Route Description

From the A94 at Newlands (NO150275), an access track runs for some 400m to a house near the junction with another right of way (NO149280). A locked gate bars further vehicular traffic, but there is a stout pedestrian stile alongside. The next kilometre of the route runs alongside mature pine forest on the left/ west and Scone Aerodrome on the right/east. Beyond the forest, a short, slightly vegetatious stretch leads over a burn and onto a well-defined tractor track coming from the north. This leads between cropped fields for a further kilometre all the way to St Martins, joining a minor road at Bauchland (NO154300).

From the west side of the car park at St Martin's church, a stony vehicular track leads NNE, giving access to scattered houses along the route and to adjacent fields. It is strongly defined and in good condition for an untarred track until after Kingswell, when it becomes muddy and grassy. It improves again on approaching the driveway of Dunsinnan House, crosses the driveway and shortly becomes grassy and water-logged for the final kilometre through forest to a cross-roads of routes at NO179333.

OS Landranger 53 (Blairgowrie & Forest of Alyth) and 58 (Perth & Alloa, Auchterarder)

Heritage Information

This old road is depicted very clearly in John Adair's map of 1683. Maps tended to show only the very important roads in the 17th and 18th century, so it must have been of great significance. Indeed according to Adair, it was the only route running north out of Perth on the east side of the Tay and as such would have seen a great deal of traffic.

Turnpike roads were the first attempt by the Government to make the road users pay for the upkeep of roads, so they are characterised by having toll points. Direct road taxation continued to be levied on motorists until 1937 when road tax was abolished. Motorists now pay Vehicle Excise Duty which is arguably a pollution tax - wear and tear on the roads has long been funded out of general revenue.

A Post House was built in St Martins in 1792, which is probably before this road fell out of use in favour of the current road. Therefore it must have been well constructed in order to cater for mail coaches and may also have been very busy with these mail coaches thundering down it.

Just north of St Martins - at NO159312 - there are three standing stones, two of which are now recumbant. These were thought to be known as Cupar Stone but that term was considered archaic in 1860 so it is very unlikely they're known locally as that now. Interestingly, there is another stone nearby - at NO159316 - called the Witche's Stone, traditionally thought to be the place where Macbeth met the witches who warned him about the coming of Birnham Wood to Dunsinane. While it is thought to be a glacial deposit, it may still have had some religious use at one time.



Copyright: Andrew McEwan



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