Ancient Monuments

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Allerford packhorse bridge, immediately north of Cross Lane Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Selworthy, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.211 / 51°12'39"N

Longitude: -3.5688 / 3°34'7"W

OS Eastings: 290511.569989

OS Northings: 146923.112359

OS Grid: SS905469

Mapcode National: GBR LD.3XCG

Mapcode Global: VH5JX.3T5J

Entry Name: Allerford packhorse bridge, immediately north of Cross Lane Farm

Scheduled Date: 17 April 1951

Last Amended: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020776

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35324

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Selworthy

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval packhorse bridge which crosses the Aller
Brook between Higher Allerford and Cross Lane Farm. The bridge, which is known
as Allerford packhorse bridge, is constructed in red sandstone random-rubble
with two arches separated by a central pillar which has an angled cutwater on
the eastern, upstream side. The arches are segmental in shape with
random-rubble voussoirs and those on the western, downstream side have a
slightly flattened shape. The bridge pathway is of cobbled stone with an
average width of 1.3m between coped parapet walls which are 0.5m high and 0.3m
wide. The parapet walls on the north side of the bridge splay outwards and
extend for a further 1.9m on the west side. A deep ford is located adjacent to
the east side of the packhorse bridge.
The bridge is Listed Grade II*.
All fencing and fence posts 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.

Allerford packhorse bridge, immediately north of Cross Lane Farm survives
well with no major modern refurbishment and is a good example of its class of
monument, which has remained continually in use. The packhorse bridge is well
known and provides an important focal point in a village which is very popular
with tourists.

Source: Historic England


SS 94 NW 17, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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