History and Research: Moulton Packhorse Bridge

 

This medieval bridge across the River Kennet lies on the ancient route from Bury St Edmunds to Cambridge and spans a distance of over 20 metres.

It is perhaps not strictly a packhorse bridge since it was wide enough to take carts: it is now used only by pedestrians.

The 15th century bridge from the south

The 15th century bridge from the south

History

The river has shrunk in size since the bridge was built in the 15th century. While a single arch would have been suitable to span a narrow stream, if used over a wider stretch this design would have created an inconveniently steep slope at both sides. At Moulton a series of smaller arches was therefore used to carry the road on a more manageable slope.

Description

The bridge is built of flint and stone rubble, with plain parapets, and the edges of the arches are made of brick. Pointed arch shapes like these were constructed using wooden formers to support and shape them, and were not used after the 15th century.

A concrete platform has been laid down alongside the bridge over the stream, at the level of the base of the piers, to allow cars to cross. The concrete extends under the arches, giving an unusual opportunity to look at the underside of the bridge.

Sources

Cook, M 1998. 'Medieval Bridges', Princes Risborough: Shire Archaeology 77

Disclaimer

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.

Portico: Researching English Heritage Sites