Lesbury Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020742

Date first listed: 23-Apr-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003


Ordnance survey map of Lesbury Bridge
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lesbury

National Grid Reference: NU 23295 11561


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

Reasons for Designation

Multi-span bridges are structures of two or more arches supported on piers. They were constructed throughout the 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 semicircular 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. Medieval multi-span bridges must have been numerous throughout England, but most have been rebuilt or replaced and less than 200 examples are now known to survive. As a rare monument type largely unaltered, surviving examples and examples that retain significant medieval and post- medieval fabric are considered to be of national importance.

Lesbury bridge is reasonably well-preserved despite its continued use as a main vehicle route. The structure has not been subjected to any major modern strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of repairs and widening in the 19th century, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in which rivers were crossed in the medieval period. It is considered to be one of the oldest medieval bridges still standing in Northumberland and its importance is enhanced by its association with an adjacent medieval mill site.


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


The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Lesbury Bridge, a multi-span bridge of 15th or early 16th century date, spanning the River Aln at the west end of Lesbury village on the old road from Lesbury to Warkworth. The bridge was doubled in width in 1844, with the new eastern section faithfully copying the details of the medieval structure. The bridge is Listed Grade I. The bridge, built of squared sandstone, has two segmental arches supported on a central stone pier. The northern arch has a span of 10m across the River Aln, while the southern pointed arch has a span of 10.6m over a flood course. To counteract the abrasive action around the bridge foundations the river bed beneath the northern arch is paved with roughly squared stone blocks. The addition of upstream and downstream cutwaters, or triangular projections, to the central pier also aids the flow of water. The cutwaters are carried up to parapet level and form niches into which pedestrians could retreat. The parapets are thought to be of 19th century date and have been rebuilt after accidental damage; they are now protected by a series of curved blocks, or glinters. The medieval fabric of the bridge preserves a wide range of mason's marks which are especially notable on the inner face of the north abutment. The total length of the bridge inclusive of its abutments is 42m, and it is about 6.6m wide between parapet walls. Little documentary evidence has been traced for the early history of the bridge, but it is believed to have always been associated with the adjacent mill site which has been occupied since at least the late 18th century and was demolished in 1964. All fence posts and the modern road surface are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 24599

Legacy System: RSM



End of official listing