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 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, documented age, style and current structural age.  Historical notes are included when available. Links are provided to useful sites providing further information. The OS coordinates are displayed and photographs of the important bridges are usually included.

William Roy’s map from the Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55) is the main source. Timothy Pont’s maps (surveys around 1600) and Blaeu’s Atlas of Scotland (printed 1640) 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 confirming  a geographical location on a firm date.  1750 is a useful date -just before the major changes of the late eighteenth 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 observations about medieval bridge building .   There are lists of the most important bridges and a breakdown of the numbers in different categories.

The catalogue contains 525 bridges. Today, most of them have been replaced by a more modern structure, yet it is still interesting to know their provenance and their location. Some no longer exist. Some are ruins.   However, thirty percent (157) do still exist, substantially in the form and style in which they were built.  Furthermore, thirty of the bridges are from the 16th century or earlier, both historically and structurally.

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

 

Dec. 2012                                      Site last updated  Nov. 2016