Thornthwaite packhorse bridge, 140m north east of Church House
- 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 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