back home NMNI HOME
  • explore /
  • engage /
  • enjoy

The Scotch Cart

Scotch cart, Ulster American Folk Park Transport CollectionThe early 1800s saw the introduction of the Scotch cart into the north east of Ireland, around counties Antrim and Down (at the same time as the Scottish plough, improved horse harness and drill culture filtered into Ulster from Scotland). Until then, spoked wheels had been reserved for the carriages of the rich. The large spoked wheels, iron axle and shafts that ran parallel to the ground made the Scotch cart easier to pull, but at 12 pounds, it was much more expensive than earlier carts and skilled craftsmen were required to make it.

The cart was made popular by linen traders taking cloth from Ulster to Dublin, as it was very adaptable and could carry 2 or 3 times as much as a block wheeled car, which it soon replaced.  While early carts had no sides, high sides were attached to the cart to transport turf. The body could be extended to carry light loads such as hay. They were usually painted blue and orange and later carts had the spectacle design of linked circles on their front.