Description of Chesters Bridge Abutment

The bridge was an imposing structure with an overall length of 58 metres and with four arches each 10.8 metres wide. The most impressive of the visible remains are on the east bank of the river. On the west bank the relationship of the bridge to the fort at Chesters and the partly exposed remains of Hadrian’s Wall can be seen.

Remains of Chesters Bridge Abutment viewed from the west
The eastern bridge abutment and tower of Chesters Bridge, looking east. In the Roman period this projected into the river and protected the end of the bridge from the force of the water, but the North Tyne has moved westwards since, leaving the abutment high and dry

East Bank

The base of the eastern abutment consists of three elements: a central section which formed the actual abutment of the bridge, and to its north and south, angled wing-walls which protected the abutment from the force of the river when it was in spate.

The north wing survives to its original height; a phallus is carved on its face to ward off ill fortune. The south wing and its later extension served as the base of a massive masonry ramp which took the approach road up to the level of the carriageway on top of the bridge, at a height of about 9 metres above the river.

In the angle between Hadrian’s Wall and the road ramp is the east tower. The door at its south-east corner is original and later accommodated the water channel which passes through the base of the tower. The continuation of the channel to the south is capped with enormous slabs which supported the weight of the road ramp above.

Stone blocks from the superstructure of the bridge are displayed among the trees beyond the abutment. The lower section of one of the freestanding columns which adorned the parapet of the bridge lies on the extension of the south wing.

Stepped face of the north wing of the east abutment
The face of the north wing of the east abutment, showing the carving of a phallus and characteristic curved tooling lines on the face of the blocks

West Bank

On the west bank one wall of another tower is visible. The surface of the slope behind it covers the rubble core of the ramp bringing the road up to the level of the bridge. 


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