The Wade Stone: An Historic Monument is Moved

"The Great North Road from General Wade's Stone, Ben-y-Vrackie in the Distance." A 'Best of All' postcard by J.B. White, dating from the 1930s?

 There are few monuments erected to the road-building schemes that took place in Scotland in the 18th century. One, known as the Wade Stone, still stands by the A9, the major trunk road that links the Lowlands to Inverness and beyond. It was erected in 1729 to mark the spot where the road builders working their way south from Inverness met those coming up from Dunkeld. The fact that it stands next to the present-day A9 is testament to the surveying skills of the 18th century road-builders.

I am writing this in September, 2022, shortly after out return from a trip to the far north. I was keen to see if we could find the Stone, but, glued to the Ordnance Survey map on the way north, we could find no evidence of it, at least in the form of a convenient layby. In fact, it lies adjacent to the south-bound lane of the A9, which at that point is a dual carriageway, and I am ashamed to admit that it was our sat-nav that led us to the correct layby, number 70.

To be precise, the Stone stands some 100 yards to the west of the layby, with a plaque beside it stating "This Stone was Erected in 1729, to Mark the Completion of a Section of General Wade's Road through Glen Garry."

The stone itself has writing on it towards the bottom, which is not easy to make out. The date, 1729 is original, but the rest was apparently added later.

In fact, the stone in its present position does not mark the exact spot where the two parties met, for it was moved a little further to the north in 1976 when the single carriageway road was upgraded to a dual carriageway. I happen to have (one of my more obscure ebay purchases!) some of the paperwork relating to the project. Had the Stone been kept in its original position, it would have stood in the middle of the north-bound carriageway!

Original paperwork relating to the need to move the Wade Stone following an upgrade of the A9 in 197
Original paperwork relating to the need to move the Wade Stone following an upgrade of the A9 in 197
The original pencil drawings are faint, but the two following images show printed tracings of these drawings.
The monument shown in its proposed setting.
The Stone, shown set in earth with rubble between two boulders. The drawing is dated 28 August, 1976.
The only annotation not transferred from the original artwork to the traced printed images. It notes "Mostly rough dressed schist", and that the gradient of the road adjacent is 2.97 (south), and 1.385 (north).
A plan showing the old road following the river Garry to the south, with the two carriageways of the new road set further to the north.

The modern-day A9 is a busy highway, some, but not all of which is dual carriagway. It is not a road that Wade would recognise, but it appears that even in the 1930s, it was used more by sheep than cars, if these two postcards are anything to go by.

"The Great North Road near Dalnaspidal." A Valentine photograph registered in 1929.

"On the Great North Road near Newtonmore." A J.B. White postcard.

"An Old Toll House on the Great North Road." A postcard by J.B. White.