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Monnow Bridge (Pont Trefynwy)

Pont a Phorth Mynwy

Monnow Bridge (Pont Trefynwy)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 11, 2018

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Key Facts

Location
Monmouth (Trefynwy): Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy), Wales (Cymru): United Kingdom
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1272 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
114 Feet (34.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
24 Feet (7.32 Meters)
Spans
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This unique medieval bridge with its tower on the deck is the only remaining fortified river bridge in Great Britain with an intact gate tower. As might be expected of a bridge this old, the exact date of construction is not known, but most sources cite 1272. The bridge has underwent a number of repairs and alterations over the course of its life. However, the essential design of the bridge consisting of the stone arches and the gatehouse tower remain intact on the bridge. This has led to the bridge's protection as a Grade I Listed Building as well as a Scheduled Monument. The below photo shows the bridge ca. 1866.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade I (Also Scheduled Ancient Monument)

Discussion:

History
Medieval Bridge and Gateway, built in the late C13 (traditionally 1272) to replace a timber bridge built by the Normans (now known to date from the 1170s). This was a part of the general improvement to the town's defences and walls undertaken c1297-1315. The only surviving bridge gateway of its type in Britain, although altered in the C18 and C19. The tower has been used at various times as a toll-house, guard room, gaol and house-of-correction. The gatehouse was last occupied by troops during the Chartist troubles in 1839. In 1705 it was converted into a two storey dwelling and the battlemented parapet was removed and replaced by a roof arrangement similar to the present one, but this was reconstructed in 1832. In 1819 the bridge was widened and the narrow north passageway pierced for pedestrians involving considerable alteration to the structure, with the loss of the original staircase. Originally the total width of the bridge was comprised within the width of what is now the roadway, and footways have been corbelled out on either side. The south footway was supposedly made in 1845 but has a later concrete roof. Recently (2004) closed to all traffic and a programme of works and repairs initiated.

Exterior
Built of coursed red sandstone rubble with some patching in buff sandstone, stone slate roof to gateway. Stone arched gate tower built on the eastern pier of the three arched bridge.
The bridge has three pointed arches, with cutwaters on both sides of the piers, but the arches are segmental where the outer faces were added in the C19.
The gate tower is elliptical in shape with two distinct elevations.
The west elevation has a tall recessed slightly pointed arch with foot arches on either side, the north one with a pointed head and the south one with a Caernarvon head and flat concrete ceiling. Above the main arch there is an overhang with three arches on brackets under a wide relieving arch. There are murder holes, while within the main arch there are grooves for a portcullis. There are slit windows on either side of the arch and another window above the centre of the relieving arch. Projecting garderobe on the north-west side.
The east face is plainer and shows signs of more considerable rebuilding, with patching round the arch. Round headed window above the centre of the arch.
The inner faces of the main arch have an oak access door on the south side and the blocked original access on the north side which once gave entry to a spiral stair. but this was lost when the north foot-arch was built.
The roof has projecting eaves on corbel brackets and is in the form of two half cones joined by a central ridge.

Interior
The interior shows much more clearly how the stonework was repaired and raised in the C19, including a number of courses of red brick at the eaves. The roof structure has principal rafters with ties, all machine cut, and numerous light secondary rafters and purlins. The garderobe survives internally. There is no stair or surviving second floor.

Reasons for Listing
Included and highly graded as an outstanding medieval fortified bridge, now unique in Britain.
Scheduled Ancient Monument MM008(MON).

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Maps and Links: Monnow Bridge (Pont Trefynwy)

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