Packhorse bridge 60m north east of Royal Oak Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Packhorse bridge 60m north east of Royal Oak Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 29-Feb-2020 at 14:11:16.


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 90551 34885

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.

The packhorse bridge 60m north east of Royal Oak Farm is a good example of a medieval single span bridge which survives in its original form and position without any known major refurbishments. Limited activity immediately surrounding the bridge indicate that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact. The importance of the bridge is enhanced by its continued use as a public amenity from the medieval period to the present day.


The monument includes a packhorse bridge believed to be of medieval date over Winn Brook in the centre of Winsford village. The brook rises approximately 4km to the west at the head of Little Ash Combe and joins the River Exe about 150m downstream at Exe Bridge. The packhorse bridge, sometimes referred to as Winsford Smithy Bridge, is constructed from red sandstone random rubble throughout. It has a single segmental arch with a 3m span and a single course of rubble voussoirs which springs from water level. The pathway over the arch of the bridge has a cobbled surface for about 2m along its length and is 1.4m wide between the parapet walls. The walls are constructed of random rubble with up-ended rubble coping. The dimensions of the parapet walls are an average of 0.6m high and 8m long on the downstream side and an average of 0.65m high and 5.9m long on the upstream side. The bridge is a Listed Building Grade II. During the medieval period sheep farming and the woollen industry played an important part in the Exmoor economy. Wool was spun in rural areas and transported to centres, such as Dunster about 6km to the north east of Winsford, on pack animals; purposely designed `humped-backed' bridges were constructed in order to allow movement during times of flood.

All wooden 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:


Books and journals
Jervoise, E, The Ancient Bridges of the South of England, (1930), 110
Exmoor National Park Authority, The History of Exmoor Education Leaflet, 2002,


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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