The Characteristics of Medieval Bridges
(1) They have projecting piers, triangular in shape, known as cutwaters. These
are found on the upper side with the point towards the stream their purpose
being to protect the pier from the force of the current and from the impact of
trees and other objects borne along by the water. The upper part of these piers
at roadway level have refuges for pedestrians.
(2) The widths of Medieval bridges are commonly from
10ft to enabled the bridge to be kept open during the reconstruction. If the
arches are inspected from the underside, by boat if necessary it is easy to see
by the straight joints where the widening has occurred. Often the building
material and technique is different.
(3) The spans varied from 5 feet in the case of
small bridges to 20 feet or more in a few cases. The first were semicircular
with a barrel vault. In the 13th century pointed arches replaced these arches
and groined vaults replaced barrel vaults. Here the main weight was taken on
ribs of stone. Some bridges have had the ribs cut away to improve navigation. In
others, the ribs have been filled with brick.
(4) Many Medieval bridges are humped, especially
where the roadway rose over pointed Gothic arches. This characteristic rise is
seen at Balgownie. The gradually flattening of the Gothic arch had the effect of
reducing the hump and a somewhat flatter roadway appears in the 15th century.
(5) Often a Medieval Bridge is extremely long and
included a long stone causeway which leads up to it across a flood plain. This
is pierced by subsidiary arches which do not regularly have channels of water
flowing through them. They are used, however, at times of flood to allow the
swollen waters to escape away, instead of ponding up behind the bridge.
Bridge, Oxford, had a causeway with no less than 42 arches in the 16th century.
(6) Further structures connected with Medieval
Bridges included chapels for bridge Hermits. Gateways and drawbridges were
The Medieval Bridge
Over the Dee
Although the original Bridge of Dee dates to the 16th
century, a charter dated 1384 shows that there was a much earlier
bridge across the River Dee. Although the exact spot of this has never been
definitely established it is possible that it spanned the River at Craiglug.
The Bridge had fallen into disuse by the mid 15th century when a Charter
was issued to erect a New Bridge which never seems to have been built.
George VI Bridge
foundation stone of the bridge was laid by the
Edward W. Watt
on 15th September 1938. It was officially opened by
in the presence of
March 1941. Today the Bridge carries the Great Southern Road (B9077) into
Aberdeen from the South.
Designer Sir Frank Mears, 1938-1941. 3-span depressed-arch bridge
over River Dee with 2 round-arched flood arches to the East. Constructed in
Concrete with rough-faced granite facing; rough-faced arch-rings, finely
finished to margins; cutwaters rising to form refuges, each with Coat of arms on
outer side; finely finished parapet, with plaque inside to South reading
"CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF ABERDEEN: KING GEORGE VI BRIDGE. THE FOUNDATION
STONE OF THIS BRIDGE WAS LAID BY LORD PROVOST EDWARD W. WATT ON 15TH SEPTEMBER
Two large refuges to East. Stepped down wing wall extending South West with
stone steps up to the bridge, County of Aberdeen Coat of arms flanking the steps