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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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The Golden Age of Stone Bridges: From the Late Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century

The Golden Age of Stone Bridges: From the Late Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century

(p.136) 8 The Golden Age of Stone Bridges: From the Late Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century
The Bridges of Medieval England


Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the golden age of stone bridges from the late middle ages to the 19th century. In the early 16th century, the most striking characteristic of major bridges was that most were vaulted and constructed of stone. A large minority were of timber trestle construction. The remaining structures were either brick bridges, or bridges with stone piers and a timber deck. Brick bridges, like most brick buildings, were confined to the south and east of the limestone belt and, in particular, to the east-coast counties. The effects of centuries of constructing bridges with stone vaults can readily be seen by looking at the situation on the River Nene, which rises in the Northamptonshire hills where there is access to good building stone. Masons in pre-industrial England built bridges which, within their technical competence, met the needs of the site. The crucial test of all of these types of bridges is how effectively they performed their function.

Keywords:   stone bridges, middle ages, timber deck, River Nene, stone vaults, London Bridge, rivers, cart bridges, fabric

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