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, those that have a present structure that dates from the 16th century or earlier. There are thiirty-four of these, in which we can see important features from that period, which have been preserved through serial repairs and restructuring over the centuries. The bridges can also be seen on the very ancient maps as well as on Roy’s map.
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 (Teith) and Old Glenluce Bridge are doubtful members of the list; Ruthven has been removed because it is now a ruin, and Cow bridge in Lothian has had a similar fate; Newmills in Fife has been added, but with reservations; Huntly Castle Bridge has been recently added because of archaeological findings; Luggieburn Bridge is also a recent addition.
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, and in Perth and at Haddington, in 1202. We know 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 yet appear to date from before 1500: certainly, Balgownie in Aberdeen; possibly Abbey Bridge near Haddington and Kerelaw Castle Bridge in Stevenston. Stirling Bridge can never be discounted even if there has been some contention about its build-date.
Page last updated May 23