Natural and cultural history


The Pentland Hills were settled from earliest times, with the Gododdin or Votadini (the dominant Celtic tribe of the Lothians) settling, farming and defending their territories. These tribes would have witnessed the arrival of the Romans, with whom they co-existed (Agricola's army built their base at Cramond in AD 79).

Medieval times saw Sir Henri de Brad, the 12th Century Sheriff of Edinburgh, taking hunting parties over his lands around Glencorse. Robert the Bruce also frequented the area with his dogs, as he pursued the white stag. The Pentland Hills Producers' signboard at Kirkton Farm will tell you more of that story.

The Pentland Rising of 1666 culminated in the Battle of Rullion Green. On a bleak November day over 50 Covenanters were killed at the hands of General Tam Dalziel of The Binns' army, as they fought to practice their Presbyterian faith. A memorial and plaque can be seen near the battlesite.

Drove roads are an abiding legacy of historical farming traditions. These routes were used to drive cattle to and from markets (trysts) in West Linton, Biggar and Falkirk. The Cauldstane Slap was one of the most heavily used routes, witnessing 150,000 head of cattle in one year. This route is now part of the Cross Borders Drove Road, which travels from Little Vantage to Hawick.

Water-supply developments began in the Pentland Hills as early as the 17th century, with the building of the cistern at Swanston. Construction began in earnest in the 19th century, with most of the area's reservoirs built during that time.