Beckford Bridge


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

East Devon (District Authority)
East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 26518 01480

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.

Beckford Bridge survives in an excellent state of preservation having been by-passed for vehicular traffic by the construction of a modern bridge across the ford just downstream. As a result it has not been subjected to any major modern strengthening works. It has the characteristic humped shape of a packhorse bridge and, although it has been the subject of some restoration, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in which rivers were crossed in the medieval and early post-medieval periods where it was necessary to keep horsedrawn goods dry and above the river level.


The monument includes Beckford Bridge, a narrow, single-arch, post-medieval packhorse bridge situated over the River Yarty at the junction of three parishes (Membury, Dalwood, and Stockland) immediately upstream from the site of a ford which has been upgraded to take modern traffic. It is Listed Grade II. The bridge is rubble built, largely of local stone with a single segmental arch of ashlar which is believed to retain medieval masonry, and with some chert pebbles and flint in the coping of the parapets. It is 10.7m in length with parapets 0.65m high on either side of a carriageway which is about 1.7m wide within an overall width of 2.3m. The maximum height of the bridge above the water is about 3m and the span of the arch is just over 8m. The bridge is considered to be largely 18th or 19th century in date but incorporating earlier stonework. It appears as an entry in Henderson and Jervoise's `Old Devon Bridges' published in 1938, where some undated widening on the upstream side is recorded. Some restoration also took place in the early 20th century.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Henderson, C, Jervoise, E , Old Devon Bridges, (1938), 77
Henderson, C, Jervoise, E , Old Devon Bridges, (1938), opp p75
Chapple, J, 'Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries' in Beckford Bridge, , Vol. 6 Part 1, (1911), 251


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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