Felton Old Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020745

Date first listed: 28-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003


Ordnance survey map of Felton Old Bridge
© 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.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Felton

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Thirston

National Grid Reference: NU 18511 00287


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.

Felton Old Bridge is reasonably well-preserved, having been by-passed for vehicular traffic by the construction of a modern road bridge immediately downstream. There is no evidence that it has been subjected to any major modern strengthening works. Although the bridge has been the subject of repairs and widening in the 18th or early 19th century and the 20th century, it will provide evidence of bridge construction and the way in which rivers were crossed in the medieval period. Its medieval arches remain substantially complete and it is a good example of a later medieval bridge.


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


The monument includes the above and below ground remains of Felton Bridge, a medieval multi-span bridge, believed to be of 15th or 16th century date, spanning the River Coquet south of Felton. The bridge was in use for vehicle traffic until the early 20th century when it was superseded by a modern concrete bridge located to the east. It was widened to the west in the 18th or early 19th century and further alterations were made to the approach to each end of the bridge in the 20th century. The bridge is Listed Grade II*.

The bridge, built of coursed squared sandstone, has three segmental arches supported on two stone piers. It has an overall length of 51m, by 6m wide between parapets. The northern arch has a span of about 12.2m, the central arch about 9.4m, and the southern arch about 9.2m. The medieval arches are carried on four ribs whereas the later widening is plain. To counteract the abrasive action around the bridge foundations, the riverbed beneath the northern and central arches contains evidence of paving with large blocks of stone. The addition of upstream and downstream cutwaters, or triangular projections, to the piers also aids the flow of water around them. The cutwaters are only carried up to the mid-height of the bridge where they are chamfered and the pointed angle is cut back to form a three-sided refuge, or niche, at parapet level into which pedestrians could retreat. The parapets are 20th century in date and the head of the northern cutwater on the east side of the bridge is solid, rather than recessed. Although little documentary evidence has been traced for the history of the bridge, an early charter shows that there has been a bridge at Felton since at least the 12th century, although the current structure is believed to be 15th or 16th century in date. It was an important crossing on the main route between Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the bollards and pavement at the south end of the bridge, and the telephone box at the north end; however, the ground beneath all these features is included. The `River Coquet' sign and a commemorative plaque are also excluded, although the parapet walls to which they are attached are 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: 35422

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ryder, P, Sermon, R, Historic Bridges in Northumberland, (1993)

End of official listing