Ancient Monuments

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Lesbury Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Lesbury, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3975 / 55°23'50"N

Longitude: -1.6337 / 1°38'1"W

OS Eastings: 423295.33358

OS Northings: 611562.339117

OS Grid: NU232115

Mapcode National: GBR K610.3Z

Mapcode Global: WHC1L.WL6L

Entry Name: Lesbury Bridge

Scheduled Date: 23 April 1934

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020742

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24599

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Lesbury

Built-Up Area: Lesbury

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Lesbury St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Lesbury
Bridge, a multi-span bridge of 15th or early 16th century date, spanning
the River Aln at the west end of Lesbury village on the old road from
Lesbury to Warkworth. The bridge was doubled in width in 1844, with the
new eastern section faithfully copying the details of the medieval
structure. The bridge is Listed Grade I.
The bridge, built of squared sandstone, has two segmental arches supported
on a central stone pier. The northern arch has a span of 10m across the
River Aln, while the southern pointed arch has a span of 10.6m over a
flood course. To counteract the abrasive action around the bridge
foundations the river bed beneath the northern arch is paved with roughly
squared stone blocks. The addition of upstream and downstream cutwaters,
or triangular projections, to the central pier also aids the flow of
water. The cutwaters are carried up to parapet level and form niches into
which pedestrians could retreat. The parapets are thought to be of 19th
century date and have been rebuilt after accidental damage; they are now
protected by a series of curved blocks, or glinters. The medieval fabric
of the bridge preserves a wide range of mason's marks which are especially
notable on the inner face of the north abutment. The total length of the
bridge inclusive of its abutments is 42m, and it is about 6.6m wide
between parapet walls.
Little documentary evidence has been traced for the early history of the
bridge, but it is believed to have always been associated with the
adjacent mill site which has been occupied since at least the late 18th
century and was demolished in 1964.
All fence posts and the modern road surface are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is 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.

Lesbury bridge is reasonably well-preserved despite its continued use as a
main vehicle route. The structure has not been subjected to any major
modern strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of
repairs and widening in the 19th century, it will provide evidence of
bridge construction and the way in which rivers were crossed in the
medieval period. It is considered to be one of the oldest medieval bridges
still standing in Northumberland and its importance is enhanced by its
association with an adjacent medieval mill site.

Source: Historic England



Source: Historic England

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