Ancient Monuments

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Multi-span bridge known as Yeolm Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in St. Stephens by Launceston Rural, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6617 / 50°39'42"N

Longitude: -4.381 / 4°22'51"W

OS Eastings: 231812.000428

OS Northings: 87377.336076

OS Grid: SX318873

Mapcode National: GBR NK.7NHR

Mapcode Global: FRA 17QB.71D

Entry Name: Multi-span bridge known as Yeolm Bridge

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1928

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003268

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 67

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Stephens by Launceston Rural

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Launceston

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a multi-span bridge which crosses the River Ottery to the south of the village of Yeolmbridge. The bridge survives as a two-span 14th century structure with 19th to 20th century flood arches added to the southern end. The two early pointed arches have chamfered ribbed vaulting to each arch. The parapets are of rubble construction and two cutwaters on the western side continue up to form refuges. The carriageway was widened during the 19th century. Two flood arches on the southern side of the bridge were rebuilt during the 19th and 20th centuries.

'Yambrigge' is first recorded in 1308, although the present bridge may have been built by the Abbots of Tavistock who owned the nearby manor. The bridge was mentioned by Leland in 1535 - 43 as 'Yalme Bridge' and was described by Henderson as the 'oldest and most perfectly finished in Cornwall' and who gave its date as c.1350.

The bridge is Listed Grade I (68058).

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-437002

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Multi-span bridges are structures of two or more arches supported on piers. They were constructed throughout the medieval period for the use of pedestrians and packhorse or vehicular traffic, crossing rivers or streams, often replacing or supplementing earlier fords. During the early medieval period timber was used, but from the 12th century stone (and later brick) bridges became more common, with the piers sometimes supported by a timber raft. Most stone or brick bridges were constructed with pointed arches, although semicircular and segmental examples are also known. A common medieval feature is the presence of stone ashlar ribs underneath the arch. The bridge abutments and revetting of the river banks also form part of the bridge. Where medieval bridges have been altered in later centuries, original features are sometimes concealed behind later stonework, including remains of earlier timber bridges. The roadway was often originally cobbled or gravelled. The building and maintenance of bridges was frequently carried out by the church and by guilds, although landowners were also required to maintain bridges. From the mid-13th century the right to collect tolls, known as pontage, was granted to many bridges, usually for repairs; for this purpose many urban bridges had houses or chapels on them, and some were fortified with a defensive gateway. Medieval multi-span bridges must have been numerous throughout England, but most have been rebuilt or replaced and less than 200 examples are now known to survive. As a rare monument type largely unaltered, surviving examples and examples that retain significant medieval and post- medieval fabric are considered to be of national importance. Despite some 20th century reinforcement work, the multi-span bridge known as Yeolm Bridge retains most of its original features. It is reputedly the oldest bridge in Cornwall, and the only one with ribbed vaulted arches in the county. There are early documentary references which add to the interest of the bridge, recording the constant repair and re-development of the bridge as an important element of the communication and transportation network in this part of Cornwall.

Source: Historic England

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