History of 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 with stream in foreground and cottage behind

The 15th century bridge from the south

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.


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Further Reading

Cook, M, Medieval Bridges (Princes Risborough, 1998) 

Note

The text on this page is derived from the Heritage Unlocked series of guidebooks, published in 2002–6. We intend to update and enhance the content as soon as possible to provide more information on the property and its history.

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