Rothbury Bridge


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NU 05888 01607


Rothbury Bridge, 210m WSW of Hurley Knowes.

Reasons for Designation

Multi span bridges are structures of two or more arches supported on piers. They were constructed throughout the medieval and early post-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 semi-circular 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.

Rothbury Bridge has a long complex sequence of development. The main structure of the bridge has features preserved from the late medieval/early post-medieval period through to the 18th century. This sequence of development indicates the importance of spanning the River Coquet at Rothbury. The structure of the bridge will contain archaeological information relating to its construction, use and subsequent development.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 16 May 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a bridge of 16th century date, spanning the River Coquet at Rothbury. The bridge is constructed from squared sandstone masonry laid in regular courses and has four segmental arches, three of which have chamfered ribs and triangular cutwaters. The bridge has a complex structural sequence. It is first mentioned in documentary sources in 1616 but its form suggests it was built in the 16th century. It was originally a packhorse bridge but was widened for vehicular traffic in 1759 by William Oliphant, whose initials, together with the date, are inscribed on the lower courses of the east side of the bridge. Of the four arches the southernmost one is unribbed and represents a later amendment to the bridges structure. Slight differences in the architectural details of the ribbing, voussoirs and chamfering also suggest phases of structural development, most of which are related to the widening of the bridge in the 18th century. During the 20th century the parapets were removed and a concrete road deck was placed on the top of the bridge in order to further widen it for traffic.

The bridge is a listed building Grade II.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ND 124
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:- 4520


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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