About Scotland’s Oldest Bridges.

This site contains a catalogue of the oldest masonry bridges in Scotland: those which existed before 1750.    An ancient map has been used as the primary source.  A modern map is used to display the data.  

Each bridge is identified by a marker on an expandable Ordnance Survey map.  The marker gives access to additional material: the location, map sources, style, documented age and an estimate of current structural age.  Historical notes are included when available and links are provided to useful sites providing further information. Photographs of the important bridges are  included and the OS coordinates are displayed.

William Roy’s map from the Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55) is the main source. Timothy Pont’s maps (surveys around 1600) , Blaeu’s Atlas of Scotland (printed 1640) and John Adair’s manuscripts (1680s) have been used as secondary references.   An ancient map is a sensible starting point for a catalogue because it defines a limit of scope while settling a geographical location on a firm date.  1750 is a useful date - just before the major changes of the late 18th-century which saw an acceleration in bridge building.     

In addition to the catalogue, some general notes on documentary history are presented and there is a section on architecture and dating.   In addition, some aspects of bridge structure and construction are included along with some notes about medieval bridge building.  There are lists of the most important bridges and a breakdown of the numbers in different categories.  In addition to the map catalogue, an alphabetical list is available.

The catalogue contains over 500 bridges. Today, most of them have been replaced by more modern structures, yet it is still interesting to know their provenance and location. Some no longer exist. Some are ruins.   However, around thirty per cent do still exist, substantially in the original style in which they were built.

These are beautiful monuments in the landscape - architectural treasures which often are ignored and sometimes neglected.  

                                                                                                                                                                 Photo: Old Dean Bridge, Cardean

Dec. 2012                                      Site last updated  Feb 2019