Thornthwaite packhorse bridge, 140m north east of Church House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Thornthwaite packhorse bridge, 140m north east of Church House
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021024 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 22-Jul-2019 at 21:39:05.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
Thornthwaite with Padside
National Grid Reference:
SE 17361 59340

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.

Thornthwaite packhorse bridge, 140m north east of Church House is a rare surviving early single span bridge that is effectively unaltered. Unlike many packhorse bridges, it has not been redecked, nor had heightened parapets added. It thus retains its original character and is thus considered to be of national importance.


The monument includes a single arched bridge across Fall or Padside Beck which further downstream becomes Darley Beck, a tributary of the River Nidd. The bridge is crossed by the Dacre Walls Walk footpath and is known to the County Council as Bridge Number 1079.

Although there are no known documents relating to it, Thornthwaite packhorse bridge is thought to date from as early as the 15th century and to be on a packhorse route linking Ilkley to Fountains Abbey and Ripon, possibly constructed by the abbey.

The bridge has the appearance of being very simple in construction with a segmental, but nearly semicircular, arch of about 3.5m span. It is however quite finely built with a single arch ring of stone ashlar supporting overhanging flagstones that form the hump-backed deck. The 0.6m high parapets rest on these overhanging flagstones and are constructed to lean outwards so that their tops are nearly 1m apart. The abutments are wider than the bridge, are of a rougher construction and appear to be built around the arch springs rather than being built into them.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


R H Fox, Packhorse Bridges of England, 1974, Unpublished manuscript


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].