Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Milepost on Drimnin to Dorlin road, at NM 55242 56335LB52593

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

Summary

Category
C
Date Added
26/01/2022
Supplementary Information Updated
21/11/2022
Local Authority
Highland
Planning Authority
Highland
Parish
Morvern
NGR
NM 55242 56335
Coordinates
155242, 756335

Description

One of seven cast iron mileposts probably erected in, or shortly after, 1897. The mileposts have fluted column posts, splayed towards the base. At the top of the column post, on the front face is an oval makers emblem for the Pioneer Foundry in Blaydon-on-Tyne. The mile marker panels are in the form of two oval faces within a larger sub-oval cap, set on the top of the post. The place names and distance numbers are in relief. The seven mileposts are unpainted and located along the Drimnin to Dorlin road.

Historical development

Poor Relief Roads were constructed using money from the Poor Relief Fund. Normally people receiving poor relief were unable to support themselves, either through age or incapacity. They included orphans, the sick or disabled and the mentally ill. The first act of parliament to provide poor relief was passed in 1424. Subsequent acts in the 15th and 16th centuries were primarily aimed at dealing with the problem of beggars and the homeless. After the Reformation (around 1560), the responsibility of the poor fell on the parish, jointly through the heritors (local landowners) and the kirk sessions. These provisions became known as the 'Old Poor Law' following the passing of The Poor Law Amendment (Scotland) Act of 1845. This new act directed each parish to administer poor relief and was referred to as the 'New Poor Law', which was effective up to 1929 when the modern welfare state started to expand.

Poor Relief Roads are concentrated in remote areas across the west coast of Scotland with other examples in the area. The Poor Relief Road in this vicinity ran from Lochaline to Dorlin. The first 16km of this route is now the B849 and some other parts survive without major 20th century road upgrades or local government adoption. In 1847, Bunavullin (1km southeast of Drimnin) to Killundine River (5km southeast of Drimnin) was built using Poor Relief Fund with 46 families from Drimnin Estate employed for construction. Around 1880, the road from Drimnin to Dorlin was completed also using Poor Relief Fund. Study of Roy's Highland map (1747-52) shows there were several settlements established along the general line of the current road. Arrowsmith's map (1807) and the First Edition Ordnance Survey map (1872) depicts a routeway or simple track between Drimnin and Dorlin. It can be understood that this section was essentially upgraded, rather than created, by the Poor Relief Fund in the 1880s across the 11km length. The Second Edition Ordnance Survey map (printed 1897) depicts the new road but not the mileposts.

In 1897, or probably soon after, eight mileposts were erected along the route. The County Council briefly adopted the road in 1897 and may have been responsible for the erection of the mileposts. Today, seven of the mileposts between Drimnin and Dorlin survive. They are cast iron and made by Pioneer Foundry based in Blaydon-on-Tyne. The mileposts are the same style and casting as used on the Isle of Mull, just across the Sound to the west of Drimnin. There are also other examples of this design from Pioneer Foundry on the isles of Seil and Luing, they can be seen in Ardnamurchan, and in Berwickshire and west Fife.

Statement of Special Interest

The seven mileposts on Drimnin to Dorlin road meet the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

  • The collection of mileposts is a relatively complete example, and rare survivor as a collection, of road signage and mileposts linked to the development of road infrastructure in rural Scotland in the late 19th century.
  • It is also a rare example of an almost complete run of cast iron mileposts erected to mark a Poor Relief Road that hasn't been completely modernised in the 20th century.
  • Of good cast iron construction, they are largely unaltered, displaying some typical decorations and retaining all their names and distances.
  • They remain in a roadside setting, six of the seven mileposts probably in the same spot as originally installed.
  • The mileposts help tell the story of state and secular intervention and financial aid to try and improve the socio-economic life of Highland crofters whilst developing local communication infrastructure.

Architectural interest

Design

The mileposts between Drimnin and Dorlin are slightly unusual in design for the period as they are more decorative than plainer contemporary examples with the combination of fluted column post and mirrored oval panel faces. However, they are not uncommon and were found across Scotland. Local examples of this design can be found in Ardnamurchan and on the isles of Mull, Seil and Luing. It can also be found in Berwickshire and west Fife.

Early mileposts were often individually cast and later examples, such as these between Drimnin and Dorlin, display a basic post that was mass-produced and the two place-names with numbered distances added individually. Although mass produced, these mile posts are of good quality cast iron construction a feature which is typical of other mileposts and road signs made in the UK at the time. Mileposts were often painted, but there are no obvious signs of original paint visible remaining on the present examples.

Setting

The mileposts are located on the Drimnin Estate in northwest Scotland. The local landscape is upland and of rough moorland. Six of the mileposts are understood to be in their original location, installed at the side of the road according to the distance from their named places. One milepost is known to have been moved slightly and the eighth original milepost has been missing for some years. The roadside setting is typical for this type of structure because of their function in assisting travellers with directions and distances to estimate travel times.

Between Drimnin and Dorlin there are seven out of the original eight mileposts surviving. Individually, these mileposts are typical of their date and type, however their survival as a group of mileposts is rare. Most runs of cast iron mileposts have been disrupted over time because the realignment and modernisation of roads, re-routing of roads and updating of roads signs often lead to the loss of older cast iron mileposts. Their group importance is very high as they represent a rare, near complete run of 19th century, decorative cast iron mileposts.

The rural upland setting of the mileposts is directly linked to their existence. They mark the distances along a road that was improved using the Poor Relief Fund. The Fund was accessed by the Estate through the parish to help provide income to struggling crofters. The downward spiral of crofting as a means of living was well known and heavily documented in the 19th century. The mileposts name settlements along the road that were, at the time of erection, suffering depopulation and some are now totally abandoned.

The general setting of the mileposts has not changed much since their erection. The area the road serves has always been classed as rural and the economy has been land estate and crofting based, with some small-scale fishing. Some of the small crofting settlements have witnessed further depopulation and abandonment since the road was built and the mileposts erected. However, the ruins of such settlements still stand and help provide a wider context for the mileposts as markers on the road. The road itself has seen some modernisation but the general route and features such as the road width and adjacent drainage ditches are likely mostly the same as when constructed. This means the mileposts are still closely connected to their road as it was built.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

The history of the milepost in the UK can be traced back to the Roman occupation of the Isles. Some Roman roads had every thousandth double-step marked by a cylindrical stone – this marked the distance of a Roman mile. In 1555, an Act of Parliament made local parishes responsible for the upkeep of roads and roadside boundary markers became more important and common. Turnpike Trusts were established from 1706 to improve, maintain and construct roads to improve travel across the UK. From 1767, mileposts were compulsory on all turnpikes, informing travellers of direction and distances. At the height of Turnpike era roads, there were 20000 miles of road in the UK marked with mileposts or milestones. Following the end of the Turnpike Trust in 1840, local councils were made responsible for public roads. Around 9000 milestone and mileposts of varying ages are thought to survive across the UK.

In the 19th century it was common for private estates and local authorities to erect mileposts on popular routes. Dating to the end of the 19th century, the mileposts at the Drimnin Estate are not an early example of their type but their survival as a near complete run is now rare. Further special interest of this particular group of mileposts is found in their association with the programme of Poor Relief road building which also adds to their relative rarity.

The understanding that probably six of the seven remaining mileposts are in their original location also adds to the rarity of the collection. Mileposts were often moved or lost when roads were modernised and widened and adopted by councils for modern traffic. This section of road has seen smaller scale modernisations which has helped preserve the mileposts.

Social historical interest

The survival of this grouping of seven mileposts is of significant social interest for what it shows about the development of road infrastructure and the improvement in communication lines in the rural Scotland in the late 19th century. The mileposts are testament to the investment in terrestrial travel by road rather than the previously favoured transport on water.

The mileposts were erected on a road that was improved and brought up to contemporary standards by finance provided by the Poor Relief Fund. The road between Drimnin and Dorlin was funded to also help provide a medium-term income to local crofters who were experiencing the downfall of crofting. The mileposts followed this period of development and funding of the road and were very unlikely to have been erected on an older, less established or "unmodernised" road.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

References

Bibliography

Maps

Arrowsmith (1750-1823), Map of Scotland.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1872, published 1875) Scotland, Argyllshire. 6 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1871-5, published 1886) Scotland, Tobermory – Sheet 52. 1 inch to the mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1897, published 1900) Scotland, Argyll and Bute. 6 inches to the mile. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (revised 1904, published 1909) Scotland, Tobermory – Sheet 52. 1 inch to the mile. 3rd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey. .

Roy (1747-55), Military Survey Scotland, Highlands.

Online Sources

The Milestone Society, The Mileposts of Morvern by Paula Martin

https://www.milestonesociety.co.uk/archives/Downloads/MorvernMileposts.pdf [accessed on 08/10/2021]

Geograph, National Survey of Wayside Features by The Milestone Society (seven online pages with images and location data on each milepost between Drimnin and Dorlin)

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6102726 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6043163 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6043780 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6102811 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6045417 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6038093 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6096128 [accessed on 08/10/2021]

Sabre Roads: Poor relief Roads, Morvern

https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Poor_Relief_Road_Schemes#:~:text=Poor%20Relief%20Road%20Schemes%20Similar%20in%20idea%20to,poverty-stricken%20living%20%28primarily%29%20in%20remote%20areas%20of%20Scotland. [accessed on 08/10/2021]

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Images

Milepost on Drimnin to Dorlin road, at NM 55242 56335, viewed from close proximity.

Map

Map

Printed: 20/04/2024 04:59