Allerford packhorse bridge, immediately north of Cross Lane Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 29-Feb-2020 at 13:24:26.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Somerset (District Authority)
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- SS 90512 46923
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.
Allerford packhorse bridge, immediately north of Cross Lane Farm survives well with no major modern refurbishment and is a good example of its class of monument, which has remained continually in use. The packhorse bridge is well known and provides an important focal point in a village which is very popular with tourists.
The monument includes a medieval packhorse bridge which crosses the Aller
Brook between Higher Allerford and Cross Lane Farm. The bridge, which is known
as Allerford packhorse bridge, is constructed in red sandstone random-rubble
with two arches separated by a central pillar which has an angled cutwater on
the eastern, upstream side. The arches are segmental in shape with
random-rubble voussoirs and those on the western, downstream side have a
slightly flattened shape. The bridge pathway is of cobbled stone with an
average width of 1.3m between coped parapet walls which are 0.5m high and 0.3m
wide. The parapet walls on the north side of the bridge splay outwards and
extend for a further 1.9m on the west side. A deep ford is located adjacent to
the east side of the packhorse bridge.
The bridge is Listed Grade II*.
All fencing and fence posts 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:
- Legacy System:
SS 94 NW 17, National Monuments Record,
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