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The Bridges of Medieval EnglandTransport and Society 400-1800$
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David Harrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226856.001.0001

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Stability: Bridges and the Road System After 1250

Stability: Bridges and the Road System After 1250

Chapter:
(p.57) 4 Stability: Bridges and the Road System After 1250
Source:
The Bridges of Medieval England
Author(s):

DAVID HARRISON

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226856.003.0004

After more than 500 years of change, when the major river crossings were bridged and a new road system established, there followed almost 500 years of stability. The stock of bridges changed little. The dense pattern of bridges which existed in the 18th century would have been recognisable to Englishmen five centuries earlier. Similarly, the routes established by the time of the Gough Map survived almost unchanged. One of the principal characteristics of the English road system in this period is clear: travellers on major roads could be sure of dry and safe river crossings, provided that the bridges had been kept in repair. It is no exaggeration to say that where a national highway met a river there was invariably a bridge. On secondary roads, bridges were also the norm, except on the downstream sections of rivers, where ferries were common. On minor roads, while bridges across major rivers were unusual, there were numerous bridges over streams and small water courses, as well as countless fords and ferries.

Keywords:   travellers, bridges, road system, Gough Map, England, repair, national highways, secondary roads, minor roads

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