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Felton Old Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Felton, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2965 / 55°17'47"N

Longitude: -1.71 / 1°42'36"W

OS Eastings: 418511.482876

OS Northings: 600299.054185

OS Grid: NU185002

Mapcode National: GBR J7H6.L5

Mapcode Global: WHC24.P4XH

Entry Name: Felton Old Bridge

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020745

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35422

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Felton

Built-Up Area: Felton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Felton St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Felton Bridge,
a medieval multi-span bridge, believed to be of 15th or 16th century date,
spanning the River Coquet south of Felton. The bridge was in use for
vehicle traffic until the early 20th century when it was superseded by a
modern concrete bridge located to the east. It was widened to the west in
the 18th or early 19th century and further alterations were made to the
approach to each end of the bridge in the 20th century. The bridge is
Listed Grade II*.

The bridge, built of coursed squared sandstone, has three segmental arches
supported on two stone piers. It has an overall length of 51m, by 6m wide
between parapets. The northern arch has a span of about 12.2m, the central
arch about 9.4m, and the southern arch about 9.2m. The medieval arches are
carried on four ribs whereas the later widening is plain. To counteract
the abrasive action around the bridge foundations, the riverbed beneath
the northern and central arches contains evidence of paving with large
blocks of stone. The addition of upstream and downstream cutwaters, or
triangular projections, to the piers also aids the flow of water around
them. The cutwaters are only carried up to the mid-height of the bridge
where they are chamfered and the pointed angle is cut back to form a
three-sided refuge, or niche, at parapet level into which pedestrians
could retreat. The parapets are 20th century in date and the head of the
northern cutwater on the east side of the bridge is solid, rather than
recessed. Although little documentary evidence has been traced for the
history of the bridge, an early charter shows that there has been a bridge
at Felton since at least the 12th century, although the current structure
is believed to be 15th or 16th century in date. It was an important
crossing on the main route between Newcastle upon Tyne and
Berwick-upon-Tweed. A number of features are excluded from the
scheduling. These are: the bollards and pavement at the south end of the
bridge, and the telephone box at the north end; however, the ground
beneath all these features is included. The `River Coquet' sign and a
commemorative plaque are also excluded, although the parapet walls to
which they are attached are included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Felton Old Bridge is reasonably well-preserved, having been by-passed for
vehicular traffic by the construction of a modern road bridge immediately
downstream. There is no evidence that it has been subjected to any major
modern strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of
repairs and widening in the 18th or early 19th century and the 20th
century, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in
which rivers were crossed in the medieval period. Its medieval arches
remain substantially complete and it is a good example of a later medieval
bridge.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Ryder, P, Sermon, R, Historic Bridges in Northumberland, (1993)
Other
4325,

Source: Historic England

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