Gallox Bridge is a fine example of a medieval packhorse bridge used to transport wool across the River Avill for sale in the market town of Dunster.
The medieval wool trade
In the Middle Ages wool was England’s chief export, and the source of much of the country’s wealth. axes on wool exports paid for Edward I’s conquest of Wales and his near conquest of Scotland.
At this time Dunster flourished as a market and port for wool, fleeces being brought down from the moor to be sold there. Many of them were carried by packhorse across the River Avill via Gallox Bridge, originally the main route into Dunster from the south.
The name of the bridge
The original name of the bridge was Doddebrigge, by which it is referred to in the 14th century, but by Tudor times it had become Gallocksbrigge, Gallox Bridge, or Gallocks Bridge.
All these names derive from the gallows that stood on a hill outside the village. The gallows were a symbol of the authority of the lords of Dunster Castle, who had the right to try and hang any thief caught within the area of their jurisdiction.
The bridge is 1.2 metres (4 feet) wide and 10.5 metres (32 feet) long, and has two slightly pointed arches. Each side has four narrow chamfered ribs. On the village side, the bridge parapet is continued along the footpath for some way beside the river, in order to prevent flooding.
Alongside the bridge is an ancient ford for wheeled traffic. The bridge is still in use as a public footbridge, and is an integral part of the medieval landscape of Dunster
Jervoise, E 1930. 'The Ancient Bridges of the South of England', Architectural Press
Pevsner, N 1958. 'The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset', Penguin
The text and pictures on this page are derived from the 'Heritage Unlocked' series of guidebooks published in 2004. We intend to review, update and enhance the content in the near future as part of the Portico project, whose objective is to provide information on the history, significance, research background and sources for all English Heritage properties.