Sources for Chesters Bridge Abutment

The main account of the modern excavation and the history of the bridge is PT Bidwell and N Holbrook, Hadrian’s Wall Bridges, English Heritage Archaeological Report 9 (London, 1989).

Chesters Bridge Abutment under excavation with cows grazing in field beyond

Watercolour view of Chesters Bridge Abutment during excavation in the 1860s, by Henry Burdon Richardson
© Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Material Sources/Collections

Objects from the excavations and archives of the work carried out in 1982–3 are kept at Chesters Museum. A possible festuca or ram for hammering wooden piling into the river bed is displayed in the museum.

Visual Sources

HB Richardson, watercolours of the 1860–63 excavations, Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Museums [see above; also reproduced in Bidwell and Holbrook 1989]

D Mossman, watercolour of the 1860–63 excavations, Tullie House Museum, Carlisle [reproduced in Bidwell and Holbrook 1989]

James Irwin Coates archive, drawings, 1879, published in T Wilmott,  Hadrian’s Wall: Archaeological Research by English Heritage 1976–2000 (London 2009), 17–18 [accessed 20 Sept 2012]

Photographs and drawings, 1907, Historic England Archives (P36535–42)

Antiquarian Accounts

Clayton, J, ‘The Roman bridge of Cilurnum’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 2nd series, 6 (1865), 80–86 [the fullest account of the 1860–63 excavations]

Holmes, S, ‘The Roman bridges across the North Tyne river near Chollerford’Archaeologia Aeliana, 2nd series, 16 (1894), 328–38 [first extended attempt to interpret the significance of the remains; accessed 26 Sept 2012]

Recent Publications

Bidwell, P, ‘Chesters – Cilurnum: the bridge’, in Hadrian’s Wall 1989–1999, ed P Bidwell (Kendal, 1999), 119–20 [interim account of the excavations in 1990–91, which remain unpublished]

Bidwell, P, ‘A survey of the Anglo-Saxon crypt at Hexham and its reused Roman stonework’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th series, 5 (2010), 39, 61–7 [recovery of stone and metalwork from the bridge for reuse in the AD 670s]

Bidwell, PT and Holbrook, N, Hadrian’s Wall Bridges, English Heritage Archaeological Report 9 (London, 1989) [date of road bridge subsequently revised – see Bidwell 1999]

Hodgson, N, Chesters Roman Fort (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2011), 22–4 [buy the guidebook]

Lewis, MJT, ‘A festuca from Chesters?’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th series, 23 (1995), 47–50 [suggested identification of barrel-shaped stone as the head of a ram for piling foundation timbers]

O’Connor, C, Roman Bridges (Cambridge, 1993), 147–8 [the only modern, English-language study of Roman bridges throughout the Roman Empire]

Simpson, FG, Watermills and Military Works on Hadrian’s Wall: Excavations in Northumberland 1907–1913, ed G Simpson (Kendal, 1976), 44–9


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