Scotland’s Oldest Bridges.
A map-based catalogue of the oldest masonry bridges in Scotland.
List of the Oldest
This is a list of the oldest bridges in Scotland, that have a present structure that dates from the 16th century or earlier. There are thirty-two in which we can see important features from that period which appear to have been preserved through serial repairs and restructuring. These bridges can also be seen on the very old maps as well as on Roy.
There is room for discussion: for example, Old Bridge of Urr dates from 1580 but has been excluded because so little remains from that early period; for similar reasons, Doune bridge is a doubtful member of the list, though it dates from 1530; Dean Bridge has been added to the list on architectural grounds; Ruthven has been removed because it is now a ruin and Cow bridge in Lothian has had a similar fate.
Which is the oldest? It is impossible to say. In terms of history, we know there was a bridged crossing at Berwick in 1199, at Brechin in 1220, at Ayr and in Perth, in 1210 and that there was an established structure at Stirling in 1220, which probably had been there for a very long time. These dates imply only a knowledge of existence rather than a build-date, and they are certainly not the bridges we see today. In structural terms, almost all have been serially repaired, altered and upgraded over the centuries. We might ask ourselves which part of which bridge has the oldest masonry. Ten bridges appear to have some pre-16th-century features but there are only a few in which the entire arch structure has not been widened or restructured and appears to date from before 1500: Balgownie in Aberdeen; possibly Abbey Bridge near Haddington; perhaps Kerelaw Castle Bridge in Stevenston. Stirling Bridge can never be discounted even if its structural dating deserves discussion.
Page last updated Oct.2020