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Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale
River Lune, south east of Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale
associated engineer
Anon
date  circa 1365
era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SD614782
ICE reference number  HEW 147
photo  Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
Considered by Jervoise to be “by far the finest bridge in the north of England”, the Devil’s Bridge over the River Lune is supposed to have been built by the monks of St. Mary’s Abbey, York, some time around the year 1365.
Local legend attributes the construction of the bridge to ‘The Devil’ — a common Medieval attribution for large structures or landscape features of unknown date or provenance.
Its three, almost semi-circular arches measure 16.7m, 16.7m and 8.5m in span, respectively, and are each made up of four ribs, plainly demarcated in the soffits. The external curve of each arch is stepped for visual emphasis.
Rounded breakwaters are continued above the bridge piers to provide refuges by the roadway. The masonry parapet curves outwards around these as well as at the peak of each arch, giving an undulating line to the otherwise hefty structure. The bridge's height from river to parapet is 13.7m.
Grants of pontage for the bridge were issued in 1275 and 1365, the latter to “Richard de Wisebeche, vicar of the church of Kirkeby in Lonsdale and Thomas Baines in aid of the repair of the bridge”. Bridge tolls were levied on “things for sale passing by or under that bridge between the priory of Horneby and Gratrehals”.
Repairs were carried out in 1705 and the “battlements and pavement” were also repaired three years later. The bridge was re-pointed using Roman cement in 1829 and the eastern arch was repaired in around 1869.
The roadway on the bridge is only 3.6m wide, making it difficult for modern vehicular traffic. The numbers of vehicles on the roads increased and the bridge was closed to them in 1932.
The bridge is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Research: PD
bibliography
“The Ancient Bridges of the North of England” by E. Jervoise
EP Publishing Limited, 1973
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale