The Packhorse Bridge 100m north west of the Church of St Mary


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019894

Date first listed: 03-Oct-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of The Packhorse Bridge 100m north west of the Church of St Mary
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Bruton

National Grid Reference: ST 68358 34819


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Medieval and early post-medieval single span bridges are structures designed to carry a road or track over a river by means of a single arch, typically 3m- 6m in span. They were constructed throughout the medieval period, most commonly using timber. Stone began to be used instead of timber in the 12th century and became increasingly common in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many medieval bridges were repaired, modified or extensively rebuilt in the post- medieval period. During the medieval period the construction and maintenance of bridges was frequently carried out by large estates and the Church, especially monastic institutions which developed long distance packhorse routes between their landholdings. Some stone built medieval bridges still survive. These can be classified into three main types based on the profile of the arch which is typically pointed, semi-circular or flattened. 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. Bridges were common and important features of medieval towns and the countryside and allowed easy access along a well developed road and trackway system. However, only around 16 largely unaltered medieval single span bridges have so far been recognised to survive in England. All these are considered to be of national importance. A larger number retain significant medieval or post-medieval remains, allowing the original form of the bridge to be determined. These examples are also nationally important.

The Packhorse Bridge 100m north west of the Church of St Mary is a good example of a medieval single span bridge retaining much of its original stonework which is well-preserved under later, renewed masonry. The bridge has remained in continuous use in its present form since the medieval period and may have been founded on the site of an even earlier ancient crossing.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a medieval single span bridge, which crosses the River Brue in Bruton connecting Silver Street on the lower, south side to the High Street on the north side of the river via Elliott Barton, one of the numerous Barton alleyways. The bridge, which is now known as The Packhorse Bridge, was also known as Bow Bridge in earlier times, and it is considered to be of 15th century date. It is constructed of local stone ashlar with a single two-order, slightly pointed chamfered arch approximately 4.5m across. The walk-way over the arch is paved with Keinton flagstones and is 0.95m wide between the coped parapet walls which are 0.85m high, rising to a slight point above the apex of the arch. The bridge is approached from the north side by a cobbled ramp with coped walls either side. The upper courses of these walls are a later addition to the underlying medieval masonry. The bridge is approximately 21m long in total. A worn carved shield is set into the parapet wall on the west, downstream, side. The crest is believed to be that of the Fitz-James family, founders of King's School in 1520. The bridge is Listed Grade I. All iron railing posts and modern ground surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included at both ends of the span where this lies within the monument's area of protection.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 33719

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Couzens, P, Bruton in Selwood, (1968)
Taylor, A, Bruton in 1897, (1999), 4

End of official listing