Temple Old Bridge with adjacent ford and causeway


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020638

Date first listed: 15-Jan-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-2002


Ordnance survey map of Temple Old Bridge with adjacent ford and causeway
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Blisland

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Neot

National Grid Reference: SX 15095 73754


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.

Temple Old Bridge survives well, the bypassing of its route prior to the late 19th century leaving it as an unusually little-altered example of a bridge built specifically for the turnpiking of a major road. The extension of the bridge and its provision with parapets show some of the development in standards affecting such bridges by the mid-19th century, features again usually masked or removed by later upgrading in bridges that still serve their original main routes. The bridge's direct physical association with a medieval causeway is rare, while the survival of a paved ford alongside the bridge is unusual whether it is contemporary with or earlier than the bridge. The juxtaposition of the causeway, ford and bridge in this scheduling and their proximity to the Temple New Bridge beyond, carrying the modern A30 trunk road, provide an unusually clear demonstration of the considerable development of river crossings and of the highway system during and since the medieval period. The features in this scheduling are much enhanced by the surviving historical records bearing on their origins, ranging from the Charter of 1241 documenting the causeway's contemporaneity with the Knights Templar's hospice at Temple to the 1769 Turnpike Act under whose authority Temple Old Bridge was built.


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


The monument includes Temple Old Bridge, a mid-18th century road bridge across the eastern headwater channel of the River Bedalder near the hamlet of Temple on central Bodmin Moor. The monument also includes a refurbished medieval causeway east of the bridge and a paved ford adjacent to the south side of the bridge. Temple Old Bridge spans the eastern of the river's two headwater channels by a single arch from which the bridge's masonry sides and parapets extend over both sloping river banks. On the east side, the earlier causeway carries the road from the bridge across damp ground beyond the river bank. The bridge has a round arch 3.05m across and up to 1.52m above the river bed. The arch has a single ring of dressed granite voussoirs, flush with the sides of the bridge but with a slightly projecting keystone. At each end of the arch the voussoirs rest on a large flat granite slab. Coarser granite masonry lines the vault beneath the bridge's 5.5m width. Under the arch, the riverbed is roughly paved by granite slabs. Beyond the arch, the sides of the bridge are faced by random granite masonry. Variations and jointing within that masonry reveal two stages in its construction. In the earliest stage, the bridge's masonry sides were 12.85m long on the south side and 11.05m long on the north, surviving to a height roughly level with the top of the arch but rising to about 0.3m above the arch itself. The fabric of this masonry comprises granite blocks, generally 0.2m-0.3m long and 0.1m high, whose outer faces were neatly dressed flat. Larger slabs retained a vertical edge at each end of these original sides of the bridge. At a later date the sides were extended, except on the west of the north side, and raised to give the present extent of the bridge's sides and parapets: 22m long and up to 2.9m high on the south; 16.65m long and up to 2.25m high on the north. The fabric of the later masonry is quite different, using mostly smaller granite rubble about 0.1m-0.2m long, less neatly dressed, and stepped out by up to 0.1m where it extends from the ends of the earlier masonry. The bridge parapets as now visible are largely attributable to this later phase. Rising directly from the sides of the bridge and about 0.45m wide, they include a flat-topped central section up to 1.05m above the carriageway. From that, the parapets slope down to carriageway level and terminate on a flat slab at each end except at the west end of the north parapet where an upright block defines the central section from a modern hedgebank continuing its line. By analogy with similar datable bridge parapets in Cornwall, the extension of the bridge sides and provision of these parapets are considered to date from the early 19th century. The parapets have a decorative coping of small end- and edge-set slabs along each face. The carriageway defined by the parapets is 4.65m-4.75m wide, mostly occupied by the modern metalled road. Beyond the bridge's eastern end, the road is carried over the damp ground of the valley floor on a raised causeway visible up to 20.3m beyond the bridge's parapets. Generally 6m wide and rising about 0.7m to a flat top 5m wide, the southern edge of the causeway is reinforced by granite blocks and rubble extending 5.8m beyond the east end of the bridge's southern parapet. Beyond this, the causeway's southern side bulges outwards beyond the projected side of the causeway, with a slope up to 1.25m high on which are scattered several large granite slabs. This bulge is considered to comprise debris produced by the modification of a medieval causeway recorded here before the adjacent 18th century bridge was built. More recent additions from road resurfacing account for a lobe extending west from the bulge alongside the causeway. Beside the southern face of the bridge's arch, the river bed and adjacent lower slopes of the river banks are roughly paved by granite slabs and cobbles extending at least 2.9m south from the bridge, giving a fording point certainly in use contemporary with the bridge and possibly earlier, serving the medieval causeway across this valley floor. The road formerly carried by Temple Old Bridge was the main medieval and later route across Cornwall following the spine of the peninsula. The early importance of this route is reflected by 12th century foundation of a hospice at Temple by the Knights Templar, who built causeways across the marshy headwaters of the River Bedalder to each side of Temple. These causeways, mentioned in a charter of 1241, fixed the course of the main route across this part of Bodmin Moor and remained in use when a Turnpike Act was passed in 1769 allowing the improvement of the road from Launceston to Bodmin and Indian Queens. One result of the turnpiking was the construction of Temple Old Bridge and the refurbishment of the adjacent causeway to serve it. The narrow, winding course of the road through Temple proved an obstacle on what was described as a rapid road by the poet Robert Southey when he travelled along it in 1802. Consequently, and before 1870, the main road was rerouted north of Temple, bypassing Temple Old Bridge with the Temple New Bridge 330m to the north and beyond this scheduling. Temple New Bridge, refurbished to carry a dual carriageway, still takes the main route across Cornwall, the A30T in the modern road classification, while Temple Old Bridge is crossed by a minor unclassified road serving only the small hamlet at Temple itself. The surface of the modern metalled road, the modern hedgebank and post-and-wire fence west of the northern parapet are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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: 15575

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Axford, E C , Bodmin Moor, (1975)
Axford, E C , Bodmin Moor, (1975)
Balchin, WGV, The Cornish Landscape, (1983)
Halliday, F E, A History of Cornwall, (1975)
Halliday, F E, A History of Cornwall, (1975)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1828, (2001)
DCMS, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 383, 1955,
Title: 1": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map sheet 30 Camelford Source Date: 1879 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 17 SE Source Date: 2001 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping for the area around Temple Old Bridge Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1880 and 1907 editions
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1880 & 1907 editions
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 25": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Mapping of the area around Temple Old Bridge Source Date: 1907 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Vulliamy C J, AM 107 FMW report for CO 383 Temple Old Bridge, (1996)
Vulliamy C J, AM 107 FMW report for SAM CO 383 Temple Old Bridge, (1996)

End of official listing