Scotland’s Oldest Bridges.
A map-based catalogue of the oldest masonry bridges in Scotland.
HADDINGTON see NUNGATE BRIDGE
HAUGH BRIDGE (of URR ) Castle Douglas
C. Dum & Gall Urr Water 280542,565978
History: The bridge was part of the 1764 military road from Carlisle to Portpatrick. However, it is present on Roy's map so clearly there was a predecessor at the same location. There is iittle mention of the costs in Taylor's 'Military Roads' so it is possible it was taken-over, as was Bridge of Dee and Dumfries Bridge. It seems that maintenance was transferred to the Commissioners of Supply from 1790, and from 1805, to the Stewartry Road Trustees. Very recent floods and damage (Dec.2015) requiring repairs.
Maps:Roy(1750). Described as "Haw" Bridge.
Currently: This is an 18th century bridge with two segmental arches. Spandrels in rough hammer-dressed random rubble with no coursing. However, the beautifully dressed recessed voussoirs are in ashlar and clearly come from a later date: probably early 19th century. The single pier, cutwater and refuge also may be rebuild. Nearby Spottes Bridge is not on Roy's map as it was not built until the military road arrived.
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HIGH BRIDGE OF KEN nr St Johns of Dalry
C.Dum & Gall Water of Ken 261962,590194
History: Located at the College Linn and Waterfalls. No further information about history or provenance but there is a country dance named after it. Firmly on Blaeu.
Currently: This is an 18th C bridge. Two almost semicircular arches in hammer-dressed random rubble, occasionaly brought to course. Rubble voussoirs. Very wide central pier on rocks. Horizontal decking. Parapets are more recent. Solid well dressed coping stones. Narrow: 10ft wide p to p.
Link photo photo photo.
HIGH BRIDGE OF SPEAN
C.Inverness R.Spean 220064,782097
History: built in 1736, some 6 years after the completion of his road, this is Wade's most impressive military bridge. It is on the Fort William/Inverness Road, and was the location of the first encounter of the '45 rebellion; eleven MacDonalds held the bridge against 85 Hanoverian government troops. The bridge cost £1087 to build.
Currently: Quite stunning. Has to be seen to appreciate the enormous proportions. Ruined and overgrown. Only the smaller east arch survives. Previously, 3 large semicircular arches, elevated 80 ft above the river. Appeared to have whinstone voussoirs of great length, though regular, and roughly dressed random rubble spandrels. Centre arch was 40ft. The descending military road can still be found in the undergrowth (photo3). The bridge was bypassed by a Telford Bridge, built upstream in 1818.
Link photo photo photo.
HOWFORD BRIDGE nr Mauchline
C.Ayr R.Ayr 251556,625398
History:Build 1751 by Commissioners of Supply. Cost £137. Repaired in 1773 by James Armour who was later the reluctant father in law of Robert Burns. Clear evidence of widening on the soffit; presumably 19th century. Bypassed (spectacularly) to the east in 1962 (photo 3 is taken from the old bridge).
Currently:Appears to be late 18th century. Two segmental arches with cutwater. This classic Comm of Supply structure has typical recessed dressed voussoirs and well dressed coursed rubble spandrels and abutments. It must have been very new at the time of Roy's survey. The old mains pipe below the parapet is in wood (photo).
HUNTLY CASTLE BRIDGE Huntly
C.Aberdeen. R.Deveron 353267,840857,
History: This bridge is adjacent to Huntly Castle, a 13th century ruin which was extensively remodelled in the late 1500s and the late-1600s. The bridge is mentioned in MacFarlane in 1723. Also known as Elgin's Bridge. OSA in 1792 reports on a very old bridge over the Deveron. Clearly seen on Gordon 25 and on Blaeu. In 2014, collapse of the S.W. wing triggered intervention and a full assessment. This revealed that the structure was older than had been thought. Masons' marks were found on some stones which might suggest a medieval origin. Also, a cobbled decking lay under the tarmac and exploratory pits in this revealed medieval pottery shards. The narrow width of the bridge (8/9 ft) and slight chamfering of the ashlar voussoirs seem to suggest a much earlier date than was thought. Fifteenth century has been suggested (Tom Robertson(R): personal communication) which might relate to a possible rebuild after the sacking of the castle in 1452. However, the arch shape rather suggests a later period than that and we know that the 6th Earl of Huntly largely rebuilt the castle in 1599. There is no record for the bridge in either period. Coarser stonework on the spandrels and walls suggests considerable 18th century repairs.
Maps: Roy(1750) Blaeu(1640) Gordon(1636)
Currently: It looks more like a late 16th century bridge but there is certainly evidence of remnants which are very much older than that. The single semicircular arch is about 40 ft span. The spandrels are in lightly coursed, faced rubble but the wing-walls are in undressed random rubble. These may be later in date. The parapet copings are quite decorative. The S.W. wing is still under repair(2021). There are pattress-plates which were mentioned in the 1792 OSA. Vehicles are now banned.
INGLESMALDIE BRIDGE see UPPER NORTH WATER BRIDGE
INNER BRIDGE Leuchars
C.Fife R.Mottray 345003,719777
History: Two charters (St.Andrews Liber) dating from the early 1200s mention a bridge over the 'Modrith'. Repaired in 1598.
Maps:1750(Roy) 1680s(Adair)1600 (Gordon54) 1640 (Blaeu)
Currently:16th century bridge with three arches: very low and all different: one semicircular and two segmental which is unusual. Iron tie-rods at the crowns. Very weathered, coursed ashlar spandrels with modest string course and well worked more modern parapets and capstones. Huge central cutwater. Width is 5m parapet to parapet. This is unusually wide. However, a Tom Robertson photograph ( Old Bridges of Great Britain and Ireland) reveals clear evidence of widening; the original width was around 2m. This justifies a conclusion of a pre-reformation bridge with later restructuring. Mottray Water is a relatively small river with a wide estuary which may explain the tolerance of such a low profile.
INNERLEITHEN CUDDY BRIDGE
C.Peeblesshire Leithen Water 333327,637208
History: Cuddy Brig.1701. Built with vacant stipend money to permit parishioners to get to church. As such it could be considered a late 'collection' bridge. The church was on the west bank of the burn. The bridge became the main crossing point, east to west, on the road along the north bank of the Tweed. It was bypassed downstream by the turnpike in the 1770's and now serves as a footbrige accessing the Pirn Hill. Parapet and upper courses were rebuilt in 2006.
Maps: Doubtful on Roy and not on Blaeu or Pont. However it appears on William Edgar's 1741 map and its build is well documented.
Currently: Beautifully preserved early 18th century bridge in roughly coursed undressed random rubble with rough rubble voussoirs of unequal length. Stilted segmental arch. 10feet wide. Splayed parapets with roughly dressed coping (recently reconstructed).
INVER BRIDGE Dunkeld Bridge
C.Perth R.Braan 301785,742061
History: Built in 1740; this is a county bridge on a road which existed before the military took over in 1761 (Coupar to Amulree. Caulfield). This bridge was swept away while still being built and was then rebuilt by Dunkeld masons. The Inver Bridge was part of the key Dunkeld crossing of the Tay, just adjacent, and referred to as the Inver Ferry.
Currently: 1740. Two segmental arches plus one flood arch. Roughly coursed random rubble without a string course. Very large buttresses on abutments. Widening is not visible on the soffit. Cutwaters.
Link photo photo photo.
INVERBEG BRIDGE Loch Lomondside
C.Dunbarton Douglas Water 234500,697947
History:1762 military bridge. Date-stone confirms. Perhaps there was a wooden bridge from the time the road was built in 1744? Certainly, it appears on Roy in 1750. Major Caulfeild built the road but the date-stone attributes the bridge to the County.
Currently: Single segmental arch with well dressed voussoirs (possibly whinstone) and coursed dressed squared rubble spandrels. More recent parapets and coping. It was widened in 1914, on the east side. Even the original is a much more substantial structure than the usual Caulfield bridge.
C. Inverness R. Farigaig 252169,823882
History: 1732 military road from Fort Augustus to Inverness. Taylor tells us that Wade brought in Dunkeld masons for the work, which cost £150.
Currently:1732. Horizontal decking and dressed random rubble spandrels and abutments. Large buttressing on one spandrel which appears more recent. The voussoirs are also in rubble. The arch is almost semicircular and slightly stilted on rock foundations. This bridge is collapsing and the southwestern decking has fallen away completely. It is very overgrown and quite dangerous. This issue is well documented by the Forestry Commission, and monitored. No intervention seems likely, however.
Link Link photo.
INVERKIP BRIDGE Bridgend
C.Renfrewshire Kip Water 221275,672541
History: Appears on Pont’s map (1600), but no more information found.
Maps:1750(Roy) Pont (1600)
Currently:19th century depressed, very dressed segmental arch but the spandrels look older almost as if the arch was a repair. The bridge is lightly humped but the apex of the parapets is not central to the arch which is odd.Coursed squared rubble abutments and spandrels. Hood-mould. This appears to be a very old bridge with a very solid 19th century ashlar arch and an unusual profile.
INVERMAY BRIDGE near Dunning
C.Perth R.May 305681,716236
History: Also known as Scott’s Bridge. On the old Stirling Perth Road(Roy’s map). Also on Adair’s map from 1680s.
Maps 1750 1680s
Currently: 18th century. Single semicircular arch. Very overgrown. Random rubble spandrels and rubble voussoirs. Within the Invermay Estate.
IVY BRIDGE Cullen Estate
C.Aberdeen R. Cullen Burn 350692,866080
History: Cullen House dates from 1602. This may be the oldest of the Cullen Estate bridges.
Currently:Appears to be early 18th century. Single span humped segmental arch in well faced random rubble sometimes brought to course. Well dressed rubble voussoirs.
C. Roxburgh Jed Water 365267,620593
History: Historically important border town because of its proximity to England. The seat of one of the four great Scottish Border abbeys dating from the time of David I. The Abbey dates from 1138. The town was invaded three times by English armies in the early 14th century and burnt to the ground. The present bridge is 16th century but it seems certain that there was an earlier one. Two ancient medieval roads approached Jedburgh from the south. Bonnie Prince Charlie's army crossed the bridge in 1745 and billeted in the town. They went on to Carlisle by the Note o'the Gate pass to the SW. Also, the Roman Dere St. approaches from the SE and crosses the Teviot River just two miles north of Jedburgh. This road was certainly used in medieval times with a likely deviation through the town and over this bridge and on to another medieval bridge at Ancrum.
Maps:Roy(1750) Oddly not on Blaeu.
Currently:16th century. Three ribbed segmental arches less than 30ft span. Four chamfered ribs (two missing on east arch). No voussoir rings as such but strong hood mould layer. Clear evidence of ashlar rebuilding on the ribs. Very large piers. Cutwaters extending to refuges. Very well dressed squared coursed stonework on the spandrels. Defensive twist at each end to deter horsemen so that the approaches are almost at right angles to the bridge. Nine or ten feet wide which is quite narrow for a major route.