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Wycoller Clapper Bridges
Wycoller Beck, Wycoller, Lancashire, UK
associated engineer
date  not known, possibly one Anglo Saxon and the other Victorian
era  Anglo-Saxon  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SD931392
ICE reference number  HEW 1401
Clapper bridges are simple structures consisting of stone slabs spanning between river banks, sometimes resting on intermediate stone piers. Two of these rare and ancient bridges cross Wycoller Beck, and are still used by walkers. Among the other crossings in the village is an ancient two-arch packhorse bridge.
The oldest of the clapper bridges is Clam Bridge (SD935389), a Scheduled Ancient Monument believed to have been built more than 1,000 years ago. It consists of a single gritstone slab 3.65m long laid across the watercourse, with one end resting on the edge of a rock outcrop and the other supported by a pile of balance stones. Small holes along one side of the stone indicate that it once had handrails.
Originally the slab might have been an Iron Age menhir (standing stone) standing on the moors north east of Wycoller that was later used to bridge the beck. On 19th May 1989 a flash flood dislodged the slab and cracked it in two. It was repaired and resited but broke again in another flash flood in August 1990. Restoration, including the pinning of the sections together with steel clasps, was completed in June 1991.
Clapper Bridge (SD932392) — variously known as Hall Bridge, Weaver’s Bridge and Druid’s Bridge — had two stone slabs supported by a central stone pier, with their ends on the banks of the stream. It was built probably in the late 18th or early 19th century, though some say it is of medieval origin. The eastern slab broke and the bridge was repaired by supporting the cracked slab on another stone pier closer to the east bank.
The surface of this bridge's slabs had grooves worn by iron horseshoes and people wearing metalled clogs crossing it but these were chiselled out around 1910. Apparently a farmer's daughter tripped on the grooves and fell to her death in the stream below.
Wycoller was a centre for weaving until the end of the 19th century but is now a quiet hamlet set in a designated Country Park. It has seven bridges and a ford just downstream of Clam Bridge, the remains of which can still be seen.
Cars are excluded from the village and the path alongside Wycoller Beck is part of the Brontë Way — nearby Wycoller Hall (now ruined) is thought to have been the model for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre.
Research: ECPK
"The Ancient Bridges of the North of England" by E. Jervoise
EP Publishing Ltd, Wakefield, 1973
"Wycoller Bridges, Valley of the Seven Bridges", fact sheet 5, available at www.lancashire.gov.uk
reference sources   CEH North

Wycoller Clapper Bridges