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Roman Bridge, London, site of
River Thames, near present London Bridge
associated engineer
Anon
date  circa 50 AD
era  Roman  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  TQ328806
London was founded by the Romans and, just as we do today, they found that getting across the Thames was essential. They built a wooden bridge close to the site of the present London Bridge, giving this spot a nearly 2000 year-long history of bridge building.
The Roman bridge was sited 60m east (downstream) of the current structure. The remains of what is thought to be a pier support were excavated on the north bank in 1981. The other siting evidence we have is the convergence of two Roman roads to a particular spot on the south bank (where Hay's Wharf is today), opposite the site of the presumed bridge pier.
In Roman times, this spot was the tidal limit of the Thames, so was a logical place to build. It also had solid gravel banks on either side. However, the city was founded in 43 AD and the bridge remains have been dated by archaeologists to 50 AD. Does this mean they had no bridge for seven years?
We don't really know. Maybe the very first bridge was, say, a pontoon bridge, which left no evidence. Or perhaps there are clues to an earlier bridge that we haven't uncovered yet. Another theory is that the Roman's very first bridge was elsewhere — possibly near Westminster, where the Thames was shallower and narrower.
The Roman city grew rapidly after the establishment of the 50 AD bridge and the city was eventually enclosed by substantial stone walls. The Roman army's protection of London lasted until 410 AD.
It's not known how many timber bridges followed the Roman one on this site. There is a reference to a bridge at the time of King Edgar (957-75) and there was certainly a bridge here at the time of the large fire in London that happened some time around 1133. It is not certain how the fire affected the bridge, though it was not rebuilt for 30 years, so perhaps it was just damaged.
The first stone bridge was started around 1176 — the famous Old London Bridge, compete with houses and a chapel. It was located slightly upstream of the site chosen by the Romans.
bibliography
"The Annals of London" by John Richardson
Cassell Paperbacks, London 2001
reference sources   CEH LondRRB
Location

Roman Bridge, London, site of