Ancient Monuments

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Beckford Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Dalwood, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8082 / 50°48'29"N

Longitude: -3.0442 / 3°2'39"W

OS Eastings: 326518.313896

OS Northings: 101479.670417

OS Grid: ST265014

Mapcode National: GBR M3.YJKN

Mapcode Global: FRA 46HY.RV6

Entry Name: Beckford Bridge

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1926

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020418

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33041

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dalwood

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Membury

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes Beckford Bridge, a narrow, single-arch, post-medieval
packhorse bridge situated over the River Yarty at the junction of three
parishes (Membury, Dalwood, and Stockland) immediately upstream from the site
of a ford which has been upgraded to take modern traffic. It is Listed
Grade II.
The bridge is rubble built, largely of local stone with a single segmental
arch of ashlar which is believed to retain medieval masonry, and with some
chert pebbles and flint in the coping of the parapets. It is 10.7m in length
with parapets 0.65m high on either side of a carriageway which is about 1.7m
wide within an overall width of 2.3m. The maximum height of the bridge above
the water is about 3m and the span of the arch is just over 8m.
The bridge is considered to be largely 18th or 19th century in date but
incorporating earlier stonework. It appears as an entry in Henderson and
Jervoise's `Old Devon Bridges' published in 1938, where some undated
widening on the upstream side is recorded. Some restoration also took place
in the early 20th century.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval and early post-medieval single span bridges are structures designed
to carry a road or track over a river by means of a single arch, typically 3m-
6m in span. They were constructed throughout the medieval period, most
commonly using timber. Stone began to be used instead of timber in the 12th
century and became increasingly common in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many
medieval bridges were repaired, modified or extensively rebuilt in the post-
medieval period. During the medieval period the construction and maintenance
of bridges was frequently carried out by large estates and the Church,
especially monastic institutions which developed long distance packhorse
routes between their landholdings. Some stone built medieval bridges still
survive. These can be classified into three main types based on the profile of
the arch which is typically pointed, semi-circular or flattened. 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. Bridges were common and important features of medieval
towns and the countryside and allowed easy access along a well developed road
and trackway system. However, only around 16 largely unaltered medieval single
span bridges have so far been recognised to survive in England. All these are
considered to be of national importance. A larger number retain significant
medieval or post-medieval remains, allowing the original form of the bridge to
be determined. These examples are also nationally important.

Beckford Bridge survives in an excellent state of preservation having been
by-passed for vehicular traffic by the construction of a modern bridge across
the ford just downstream. As a result it has not been subjected to any major
modern strengthening works. It has the characteristic humped shape of a
packhorse bridge and, although it has been the subject of some restoration, it
will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in which rivers were
crossed in the medieval and early post-medieval periods where it was necessary
to keep horsedrawn goods dry and above the river level.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Henderson, C, Jervoise, E , Old Devon Bridges, (1938), 77
Henderson, C, Jervoise, E , Old Devon Bridges, (1938), opp p75
Chapple, J, 'Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries' in Beckford Bridge, , Vol. 6 Part 1, (1911), 251

Source: Historic England

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