Twizel 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.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NT 88477 43302

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.

Twizel Bridge is well-preserved, having been by-passed for vehicular traffic by the construction of the modern road bridge immediately upstream. As a result it has not been subjected to any major modern strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of repairs and some refacing, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in which rivers were crossed in the medieval period. It is believed to be the largest single-arched medieval bridge in England and was the widest single-span bridge in the country prior to 1727 when the Causey Arch in County Durham was built. Its importance is enhanced by its association with the movement of the English army on the way to the Battle of Flodden in 1513.


The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Twizel Bridge, a medieval single-span bridge of early 16th century date, spanning the River Till upstream from Twizel Castle. The bridge was in use for vehicle traffic until 1983 when it was superseded by a modern bridge located just to the south. The bridge retains its medieval form, appearance and character despite some repairs. It is Listed Grade I. The bridge, with a span of 27.5m, is built of squared stone with one segmental arch carried on five ribs. The parapet is plain and carried on a series of corbels with a raised panel at the centre of the northern parapet. The parapets have been repaired and are thought to have been rebuilt in the 19th century. In addition, during the 1980's the southern parapet at the west end was continued across the bridge to obstruct any vehicle traffic. The total length of the bridge, inclusive of its abutments, is about 85m, and it is 4m wide between parapets. Both abutments are wider than the bridge and supported by buttresses. The south west wing walls curve outwards to square piers. At the north east end of the bridge the wing walls turn eastward, and the road is thought to have been realigned; the original alignment of the bridge can be seen on the north side where the bridge structure beneath the parapet continues for about 18m. Beyond the buttress of the eastern abutment a tunnel runs beneath the road and is inscribed `1901 flood'. The building of the bridge is traditionally attributed to the Selby family at the beginning of the 16th century and is thought to have been used by English troops on the way to the Battle of Flodden in 1513. It was described in the mid-16th century by Eland as `of one stone bow, but great and stronge.' Between about 1770 and 1820 Sir Francis Blake carried out extensive remodelling at nearby Twizel Castle (itself the subject of a separate scheduling) and some alterations also seem to have been carried out to the bridge at this time. The bridge shows evidence of extensive repairs and refacing from the 18th century onwards. Structural repairs were carried out in 1977 to strengthen the bridge. The modern walls and steps at the south west end of the bridge, alongside the A696 road, and a wooden fence at the north east end of the bridge are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these structures 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:
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Books and journals
Ryder, P, Sermon, R, Historic Bridges in Northumberland, (1993)


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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