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Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion
Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion, Wales, UK
Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion
associated engineer
Not known
Roderick Lloyd
date  circa 1150, 1753, 1901
era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SN741770
ICE reference number  HEW 1120
photo  © Alex Martin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The curious construction of this road bridge across the Afon Mynach in the Vale of Rheidol, about 19km east of Aberystwyth, makes it a popular tourist attraction. It consists of three individual bridges built one on top of the other. The most recent, at the top, has been repaired and strengthened and remains in use for the A4120.
The earliest and lowest of the bridges is a pointed masonry arch of 4.9m span. It crosses the river near a series of waterfalls descending some 64m, and its roadway is about 31m above water level.
The sight of the original bridge soaring over a deep narrow gorge apparently led to its name of Devil's Bridge (Pont ar Fynach) — not the work of human hands. It also known as Monk's Bridge (Pont y Mynach), traditionally thought to have been built in medieval times by the Cistercian monks of Strata Florida Abbey (founded 1164). It was certainly in existence in 1188, when Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, c.1146-c.1223) and Baldwin of Forde (c.1125-90, Archbishop of Canterbury 1185-90) were travelling through Wales to recruit crusaders.
In 1753, the county authorities paid for a second stone bridge to be constructed above the first. It is set at a slight angle to the earlier one, and consists of a flat segmented masonry arch, spanning 9.75m between wide rectilinear abutment walls that splay out from parapet to base. The abutments were taken down to bedrock by excavating behind the approaches of the original bridge.
In 1814, the abutment walls were raised by about 1.8m, making the approaches less steep. At the same time, Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), owner of the nearby Hafod estate, replaced the crumbling stone parapets with decorative cast iron balustrades made at Aberdare Iron Works.
In the 19th century, the arch was repaired (1824-5) and buttresses were built to support the structure’s frost-damaged wing walls (1895). On the west side the buttresses extend in front of the abutment and under the arch soffit, visually reducing the span.
In 1901, a flat bridge of steel girders was built over top of the whole structure, raising the total height of the bridge by 2.1m. Again, the new abutments were carried down to bedrock through the supporting structures of the two earlier bridges. The third bridge was designed by county surveyor Roderick Lloyd.
Later in the 20th century, the steel girders were propped from the deck of the 1753 bridge. In 1971, the steelwork and railings were repaired and the deck of the third bridge strengthened by casting concrete over corrugated steel sheeting supported on new steel I-beams.
Devil’s Bridge has been a listed building since January 1964, and now has Grade II* status.
Contractor (1901): Rees & Kirby of Morriston
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Leigh’s guide to Wales & Monmouthshire", Samuel Leigh and Son, London, 3rd edition, 1835
www.coflein.gov.uk
www.ice.org.uk
reference sources   CEH W&WCEH Wales
Location

Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion