Ancient Monuments

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Twizel Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Duddo, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.6831 / 55°40'58"N

Longitude: -2.1849 / 2°11'5"W

OS Eastings: 388473.145896

OS Northings: 643300.397246

OS Grid: NT884433

Mapcode National: GBR F25Q.SM

Mapcode Global: WH9YV.DFT4

Entry Name: Twizel Bridge

Scheduled Date: 17 December 1929

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020743

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34240

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Duddo

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Cornhill St Helen

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Twizel Bridge,
a medieval single-span bridge of early 16th century date, spanning the
River Till upstream from Twizel Castle. The bridge was in use for vehicle
traffic until 1983 when it was superseded by a modern bridge located just
to the south. The bridge retains its medieval form, appearance and
character despite some repairs. It is Listed Grade I.
The bridge, with a span of 27.5m, is built of squared stone with one
segmental arch carried on five ribs. The parapet is plain and carried on a
series of corbels with a raised panel at the centre of the northern
parapet. The parapets have been repaired and are thought to have been
rebuilt in the 19th century. In addition, during the 1980's the southern
parapet at the west end was continued across the bridge to obstruct any
vehicle traffic. The total length of the bridge, inclusive of its
abutments, is about 85m, and it is 4m wide between parapets. Both
abutments are wider than the bridge and supported by buttresses. The south
west wing walls curve outwards to square piers. At the north east end of
the bridge the wing walls turn eastward, and the road is thought to have
been realigned; the original alignment of the bridge can be seen on the
north side where the bridge structure beneath the parapet continues for
about 18m. Beyond the buttress of the eastern abutment a tunnel runs
beneath the road and is inscribed `1901 flood'.
The building of the bridge is traditionally attributed to the Selby family
at the beginning of the 16th century and is thought to have been used by
English troops on the way to the Battle of Flodden in 1513. It was
described in the mid-16th century by Eland as `of one stone bow, but great
and stronge.' Between about 1770 and 1820 Sir Francis Blake carried out
extensive remodelling at nearby Twizel Castle (itself the subject of a
separate scheduling) and some alterations also seem to have been carried
out to the bridge at this time. The bridge shows evidence of extensive
repairs and refacing from the 18th century onwards. Structural repairs
were carried out in 1977 to strengthen the bridge.
The modern walls and steps at the south west end of the bridge, alongside
the A696 road, and a wooden fence at the north east end of the bridge are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these structures
is included.

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.

Twizel Bridge is well-preserved, having been by-passed for vehicular
traffic by the construction of the modern road bridge immediately
upstream. As a result it has not been subjected to any major modern
strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of repairs
and some refacing, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the
way in which rivers were crossed in the medieval period. It is believed to
be the largest single-arched medieval bridge in England and was the widest
single-span bridge in the country prior to 1727 when the Causey Arch in
County Durham was built. Its importance is enhanced by its association
with the movement of the English army on the way to the Battle of Flodden
in 1513.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P, Sermon, R, Historic Bridges in Northumberland, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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