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Medieval bridge 100m south west of Wyke House

A Scheduled Monument in Bruton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1047 / 51°6'16"N

Longitude: -2.4912 / 2°29'28"W

OS Eastings: 365706.331197

OS Northings: 134046.023549

OS Grid: ST657340

Mapcode National: GBR MW.BLNB

Mapcode Global: VH8BF.RHWH

Entry Name: Medieval bridge 100m south west of Wyke House

Scheduled Date: 31 May 1934

Last Amended: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020496

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35304

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Bruton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval bridge over the River Brue which is
believed to have been built during or before the 15th century. It is
situated just to the south of the village of Wyke Champflower and is
constructed from rough square-cut stone with two arches separated by
cutwater piers, and carries a single track minor road which was once part
of the ancient Bristol to Weymouth road.
The arches are pointed and formed from a double row of voussoirs built flush
with the bridge facade, each with a span of approximately 3.5m. The cutwaters,
constructed from the same local rough stone, have angled piers placed
centrally between the arches and extend for up to 2m beyond the bridge
structure. Revetment walls on the east side of the bridge appear to be built
from the same stone as the arches and the cutwater piers which suggests a
single phase of construction for the bridge. There are no revetments on the
west side.
The bridge structure is 4.1m wide, 13m in length, and is orientated from
east to west across the river. It has a low stone kerb 0.1m high, which
is 0.4m wide on either side and topped with a wooden post and rail fence
for its entire length.
The precise date for the construction of the bridge is unknown although it
displays features typical of the 15th century and before, particularly its
style of arch which is uncommon after 1500. It is probably the same bridge
referred to in a document dating from 1677 as `the ancient common bridge
at Wake Champflower' which records it as being in great decay. This
suggests that the bridge has been restored at least once, and to its
original form.
The bridge is Listed Grade II.
The modern surfacing of the single track minor road and the wooden side posts
and rails are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground and bridge
fabric beneath are included.

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

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.

The medieval bridge 100m south west of Wyke House which spans the River
Brue at Wyke Champflower survives very well in what is believed to be its
original form of medieval construction, and retains its original masonry
and features. It is a comparatively rare example of its class of monument
having had no substantial modern refurbishment and displaying distinct
features of medieval bridge building techniques. The bridge has remained
in continual use since the medieval period and stands on what was once a
major medieval routeway between Bristol and Weymouth.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jervoise, E, The Ancient Bridges of the South of England, (1930), 105

Source: Historic England

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