Scotland’s Oldest Bridges.
A map-based catalogue of the oldest masonry bridges in Scotland.
MN - Alphabetical List
MAIDEN BRIDGE nr Dalkieth
C.Midlothian R.South Esk 333670,666587
History: 15th or 16th Century. Reputedly named after Margaret, wife of James IV. Came north to Scotland 1503 and it was recorded that there was a need to 'make by force wayes for her carriage'. It seems she came up the Salter's Road (A6094) to Maiden Bridge. A previous bridge may well have been already in existence.
Maps:1750(Roy) 1680s(Adair) 1640(Blaeu) Pont(1600)
Late 15th or early 16th century. Single semicircular arch with recessed chamfered voussoirs. Three ribs. 48ft span and 12 ft wide. Random un-coursed rubble with squared rubble lower down and some coursing . Strong string course partially lost. Younger parapet above. Dilapidated. Tiny buttresses more like pilasters at each end. The bridge is within the abbey college grounds.
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OLD MANOR BRIDGE Peebles
C.Peeblesshire R.Manor 323117,639397
History: Built from a vacant church stipend. Dated 1702 and of that style, but firmly on Blaeu ('Kirk of Mennyrs'), so another structure must have preceded this bridge in the 17th century; possibly wooden. Restoration program 2009. This bridge has to be differentiated from 'Manor Bridge' which is over the Tweed, nearby.
Maps: Blaeu(1640). Strangely not on Roy.
Currently: Early 18th century. Single narrow segmental humped bridge, 9ft wide. Random un-coursed, un-faced rubble. Fairly new pattress plates and ties. Beautifully preserved. The plaque records that 'William Duke of Queensberry designed this work and William Earl of March his second sone built the same Anno 1702.'
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MEIGLE BRIDGE Skelmorlie
C.Ayrshire Slelmorlie Water 219459,665662
History: Robert Burns escorted Mary Campbell as far as Meigle Bridge when he first met her (around 1786). This was "Highland Mary" with whom he had an affair. The Roy road appears to approach from Skelmorlie Castle Road and crosses the burn at this spot, which is 200m upstream of the coast bridge.
Currently: 17th or 18th century , small single semicircular red sandstone bridge. Dressed random rubble spandrels. Squared and coursed rubble abutments. Rubble voussoirs. Date-stone looks like ‘160?’. Listed note confirms ‘ 1604’. This suggests a later rebuild. There is evidence of widening of the downstream side. Inglis claims it is a 'collection' bridge. Overall, it appears more like an 18th century bridge which suggests that the date-stone was preserved for a rebuild.
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MELGARVE WEST BRIDGE see DRUMMIN
MILL OF STEPPS BRIDGE near Muthill
C.Perth Machany Water 286204,715057
History: 1743 Caulfeild Military. Stirling/Crieff road. However, it seems there was a predecessor: Macfarlane(1720s) describes "stone pillars laid over with oak trees and covered above with gravel" This suggests there was also a road before the military arrived, which is a surprise as it was thought that the 18th century road was on virgin territory.
Currently: A classic, wholly original Caulfeild 18th century random un-coursed hammer-faced rubble bridge with large radially aligned dressed rubble voussoirs. No string course and solid coping on the parapets.
Single segmental arch flanked by two small flood arches with cutwaters. Twelve ft. wide parapet to parapet. Humped. A lovely little bridge. Worrying amount of modern traffic.
MOUSEMILL BRIDGE nr Lanark
C.Lanark Mouse Water 286943,644204
History: first recorded 1587.‘.. for Wm.Bell to ryd to Hamilton to sie the tymer to Mousbrig: 10d…for dychtin and sawing of tymer in Hamylton Wod:5 merkis….to James Crokat.. for first peaymont of the brig begin:10li’. This timber is more likely to be for wooden centering for a new arched stone bridge, and not for a timber bridge as has been suggested. In 1646, a Charles I charter ’ with sowme of four pounds for upkeep.’ but there was no mention of a new stone bridge replacing a timber bridge at this date. Indeed there is specific mention of ‘beatit(mended)and reparit’. In 1836, when the new bridge bypassed it some yards downstream, it was expected that the old bridge would be demolished. A neighbouring landowner bought it for £50 to rescue it for preservation. This bridge is sometimes described as ‘Roman’ but this is not the case.
Maps:Pont (1600) Blaeu(1640)Roy(1750). Roy less distinct.
Currently: No reason to think this is not the original 16th century bridge which appears on Pont. Un-coursed random rubble packhorse style without mortar. Flat square ashlar voussoirs. The ring is naked at the crown. Segmental arch. Overgrown but intact.
MUASDALE BRIDGE Kintyre
C.Argyll Clachaig Water 168014,640231
History:No reason to think this is not the bridge on Roy.
Currently:18th C. Single segmental arch. Random uncoursed rubble spandrels.
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MUCHALLS BRIDGE nr.Stonehaven
C.Aberdeen Muchalls Burn 389444,791089
Nothing appears to be known of this bridge. Next to ‘Bridge of Muchalls’ hamlet and close to Muchalls Castle (1300) suggesting ancient provenance for the bridge.
Currently: small. possibly 18th century semicircular arch rubble bridge with very splayed parapets and approaches. Spandrels are squared and coursed. Small arch but wide decking of 28ft. Spandrels look much older at the base suggesting 19th century repair and widening, probably on the downstream side.
C.East Lothian R.Esk 334075,672537
History: Reputed to be Roman because of the proximity to Inveresk Roman fort. There is an assumption that a direct road ran from there to Cramond. Chalmers suggested that Roman remains at Portobello confirmed this. The evidence is not strong. In fact, it is difficult to obtain any reference even to the claimed existence of the bridge in the 13th and 14th century. It played no part in the battle of Dunbar, as has been suggested, and the English retreat from Bannockburn was mainly through Carlisle, not Musselburgh, as is often quoted; however, it does appear that Edward II escaped by this route to Dunbar. Inglis offers evidence for a bridge in 1530. Certainly, it was standing in 1547. It was possibly destroyed by the English army in 1547 (Wars of Rough Wooing). Rebuilt in 1548 by Lady Jane Seton. The present structure is remarkably similar to Haddington Nungate which dates from 1548. The spandrels were opened up in 1809 and it is reputed that very ancient masonry with oak beams were found inside.(Dendochronology might be indicated were this be ever repeated.) Major repairs to the bridge in 1597, by act of Parliament. Charles Edward Stuart led his army over the bridge on his way to and from the battle of Prestonpans in 1745.
Maps:Roy(1750) Blaeu(1640) Adair(1680s)
Currently:16th century. Three flat 50ft segmental arches with distortion to two of them. Hood mould.Weathered ashlar voussoirs. Steps at both ends since 1839. Eleven ft. wide cobbled deck. Sagging squared coursed grey rubble spandrels. Large piers which are recorded to have been built on branders. Large two-stage cutwaters. Built-over refuge over one pier only at the SE end. Parapets different from spandrels - in ashlar blocks with no string course. North arch now dry.
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NEWBATTLE BRIDGE nr Dalkieth
C.Midlothian R.South esk 333146,665710
History: 16th century, possibly earlier. Directly adjacent to Newbattle Abbey, founded in 1140 by Cistercian monks. Many Newbattle charters but none specifically identifes the bridge. However, a 13th century ford is identified in Charter 275, at Stockford, which is described as close to the abbey. serious repairs in 1661. Parliament awarded 599 merks from the vacant stipend. The abbey was secularised in the 17th century to become the seat of the Marquis of Lothian.
Maps:1750(Roy) 1680s(Adair) 1640(Blaeu) Pont(1600)
Currently:15th or16th century. Two very slightly pointed arches. Recessed ashlar voussoirs. Not chamfered. Heavily restored parapet with refuge on each side above cutwaters; oddly, one refuge is triangular, the other circular. Hood mould. Squared and coursed rubble spandrels. These pointed ashlar arches may be restored but the retained gothic profile is significant.
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C.Dum & Gall Cluden Water 294886,579092
History: This interesting bridge was on Blaeu and Pont so has probably been there since the 16th Century. This was on the main road to Glasgow from Dumfries. Listed Buildings notes Messrs Twaddel and Porteous were contracting masons in 1758 which might presume a rebuild. Also known to have been widened on the downstream side in early 20th C.
Maps: Roy (1750) Adair(1680s) Blaeu(1640) Pont (1600)
There is a remarkable similarity to the stone dressings found on the squared rubble spandrels of both this bridge (upstream side) and the Dumfries Dervogilla Bridge. See photo 3. Although the voussoirs are treated differently, both bridges have slight chamfering of the arris. On the downstream, widened side the parapets, piers, voussoirs and cutwaters are all in ashlar and the spandrels are in well dressed squared coursed rubble. If there were a rebuild in 1758, the spandrel dressed stones appear to have been retained and once again retained when the bridge was widened. This bridge appears to have elements from the 17th century since we know this part of the Dervorgilla Bridge dates from 1621.
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NEW LUCE BRIDGE
C.Dum & Gall Cross Water 217450,564636
Currently:18th century narrow span broad segmental arch. Random rubble. Humped.
Note: Main Water Bridge in Station Road is not on Roy. May be late 18th century.
NEWMILLS BRIDGE Culross
C.Fife R.Bluther Burn 301210,686481
History:17th century, possibly earlier. Recent partial collapse. Seriously at risk(July 2015). This remarkable old structure was part of a mill complex which dates to the early 16th century. It was worked by the monastery of Culross. Now part of the Valleyfield Estate. Ruined remains of mill workings are adjacent with a date-stone of 1776.
Maps:1750. Not on Blaeu- but the Blaeu map is small scale and fails even to show the Bluther Burn.
Currently: a semi-ruin. Overgrown. No parapets. One, almost semicircular arch and one small flood arch. This bridge is built in coursed ashlar, not rubble as has been recorded. Finely jointed stonework but very weathered.The blocks are now very clear due to partial collapse of a spandrel. Coursing is irregular and this is due to repairs. It has been underpinned by a second repair arch, rather than widened- this taking the form of two arched ribs with sideways infill of brickwork. The original arch is 'broken'- hinging in two places. Initially, It may even have been slightly pointed. On the downstream side, the earlier arch barrel is completely covered. This bridge could be 16th century.
NEWMILLS BRIDGE Airth
Stirlingshire Pow Burn 219519,687272
History: MacFarlane mentions this bridge and the 'publick road from Higgins Neuk' where there was a ferry on the Forth.The remains of a second bridge can be seen 300m upstream. However it is the present bridge that seems to be at the location on Roy.
Currently:18th century. clearly repaired at intervals. Well dressed coursed squared rubble in lower spandrels. Uncoursed random rubble higher up. Splayed approaches. About 13 ft wide.Single segmental arch in dressed stone.
NEWTON BRIDGE Sma Glen
C.Perth R.Almond 288763,731490
History:1733 Military. Wade. Crieff/Dalnacardoch road.
Currently: 18th century. Single segmental arch. A Wade bridge. However, this is only on the downstream side. Upstream, the bridge has been widened in the parliamentary period (early 19th century), in typical, type 3 Telford style with plumb and batter spandrels (photo 4). Also, the voussoirs are much wider on the upstream, with better finishing. Taylor records that the road north was repaired in the early 1800s, at a cost of £17000. The downstream (earlier) side has squared, sometimes coursed rubble spandrels in upper parts with random un-coursed on lower spandrels. Flat decking. The widening line on the soffit suggests that the original bridge would have been about 11ft wide, parapet to parapet. Roy's configuration on the map is confusing and may be an error since his bridge is east of the inflowing Newton Burn, but there are no remains on this spot. There is a beautiful tiny Wade bridge 300m to the north which is not on Roy's map.(photo5), and gives access to the original 18th century road going North.
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NEVIS BRIDGE Fort William
C. Inverness R.Nevis 211411,774280
History: This bridge is recorded as of 'unknown date', but it exactly matches the location on Roy's map and it also has most of the characteristics of a Wade bridge. This would be the first bridge on the great glen military road of 1730. It may have been upgraded in the 19th century; certainly, the buttressing is unusual.
Currently: Horizontal decking. Single large semicircular arch with partly whinstone, partly rubble, slim regular voussoirs. Random and sometimes roughly squared un-coursed rubble spandrels, which are plumb (so, not a parliamentary bridge). Finely worked coping, which may be more recent, but no string course. A little wider than expected, at 13 ft, but no evidence of widening. Very difficult to access the river banks in summer.
NUNGATE BRIDGE Haddington
C.East Lothian R.Tyne 351927,673784
History:Thirteenth century; mentioned in the charters of the Yesterwrits(9), dated 1202, along with a record of the road from Berwick. Further mention in 1282. There was a nunnery about one mile beyond the eastern entrance to the town, founded in 1178: hence the Nun Gate. A flood is thought to have washed the bridge away in 1358. Severely damaged at the Siege of Haddington in 1548. Present masonry probably dates from then. It appears that some stones from a ruined section of St.Mary's Church were used, showing masons' marks. Criminals were 'restrained' on the bridge and hangings took place from the parapets. A ghost- Lady Charteris, known as 'Kitty' was sometimes seen standing on the decking. There were major repairs in 1659.
Maps:Roy(1750) Adair(1680s) Blaeu(1640)Pont(1600)
Currently: circa 1550. Three beautiful large depressed very flat segmental arches in yellow sandstone well dressed rubble. Protruding hood-mould strip. Coursed squared rubble spandrels in red sandstone on older lower parts but random un-coursed yellow rubble on younger upper parts and approaches. Many serial repairs. Twelve ft. wide decking with steps at one end. A fourth smaller arch at the stepped end over the flanking road.
Beautifully preserved. An ancient ford can also be seen from the bridge (at Ford Road).
Page last updated Oct.2020