Did You Know?
- Lang Scots Mile

Lang Scots Mile

Standardisation of weights and measures is a relatively modern concept. Until the 18th century, a "mile" in Scotland could be a variable distance (not least because smaller measures such as a yard had not been firmed up either). But it seems that in Scotland, a mile was usually longer than in England. Robert Burns referred to that in his poem "Tam o' Shanter" -

"...While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An’ getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles..."

Although variable, a Scots mile was reckoned to be an average of 1,984 yards or 5,952 feet (about 1,814 metres) while the English mile was 1,760 yards or 5,280 feet (1,609 metres). After the Union of the Parliaments in 1701, the standard English measure began to be introduced in Scotland. However, it was the end of the 18th century before the Lang Scots Mile was totally replaced.

In 2002, South Ayrshire Council decided to combine their historical links with Burns and the increasing focus on exercise and keeping fit by creating a "Measured Scots Mile" on the seafront at Ayr. This unique feature was seen as a tourist attraction as well as a way of encouraging healthy exercise. The route is between two car parks at Miller’s Folly on Cromwell’s Fort to Blackburn Car Park. There are bronze quarter-mile markers (with bare feet cut into them) to encourage anyone who is flagging along the way. It was estimated that a 10 stone man or woman would burn off 115 calories and a 16 stone person, 184 calories. The route is totally flat and suitable for wheelchairs. There are views over the Firth of Clyde to Arran, Kintyre and the Cumbraes as well as the long, sandy beach. And there is a children's play park half-way along, if they want to burn more calories!

Use the "Back" button on your browser or click here to return to the Index of "Did You Know?"

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line