The Devil’s Bridges

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Why would anyone name a bridge the Devil’s?

The Devil’s Bridge near Kirby Lonsdale spans the River Lune on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Built around 1370 it is steeped in the Medieval folktales of the time. According to the legend, a local woman could not cross the river to retrieve her cow. The devil appeared and offered to build her one in exchange for the first soul to cross the bridge. The woman agreed and bridge was built. The woman then threw a loaf of bread over the bridge and her dog chased after it, tricking the Devil into taking the dog’s soul. The Devil exited in a bit of a huff having left his handprint on the stone. A feature that requires a great deal of imagination to see.
(The bridge is too narrow for modern vehicles, and hasn’t been used by cars since 1932.)

There is another Devils Bridge in Wales, near the Devil’s Bridge Falls. The bridge crosses the River Mynach. ‘Mynach’ is Welsh for monk and the land nearby was owned by a monastery. Until 1734, it was known as Pont ar Vynach and the Welsh version Pontarfynach meaning ‘Bridge over the Mynach’. So why the Devil’s Bridge? Guess what, there’s a legend about the bridge, involving a woman, the devil, a dog, and a loaf of bread. So who does this legend belong to? The bridge in Yorkshire or Wales?

It would seen, unsurprisingly, that folktales are not the most reliable source of historical information. What can’t be refuted is the evidence of a structure, and this is where the Devil’s Bridge in Wales gives us something special, because its not one bridge, but three built on top of each other, like a stack of cards.

Devil’s Bridge, Wales

The first bridge was likely to be built around the 12th Century. The second bridge was built over the first in 1753 and top road bridge in 1901. The medieval bridge was unstable, but was sufficiently intact to provide the second batch of builders a foundation for scaffolding, the third bridge eliminated a slope in a roadway. Altogether the bridge is about hundred metres tall.

Incorporating older bridges into newer ones isn’t unusual, but building them on top of each other is a definite visitor attraction. As for the Devil’s involvement in the two Medieval bridges, only the Devil knows which one he built, but the reality is that Mynach (monks) is a reliable hint. The original Medieval bridges of Wales and Kirby Lonsdale were more likely the work of the Church not the devil.

Given the dress, this is the Welsh version of the myth.

17 comments

  1. Jeanne Insalaco · · Reply

    Bridges offer so much in showing architecture in photos. Looking forward to seeing more

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is one crazy looking bridge. I have heard the folktale of the woman and the devil and the bridge before, but I have no idea from where 😆. The devil should know better than to take on old women – they have the nous which is how they got to be old.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings: YouTube – What They Don’t Tell You (and free fiction)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Outwitted by an old woman has to be the real reason the tale has spread.

      Like

  3. Oh this is fun! I am going to have to figure a way to use something like this.


    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side | A to Z of Conspiracy Theories

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looks like we are the same page today with devils and demons!

      Like

  4. Nancy Hill · · Reply

    Trolls! Devils and trolls, not much difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So it would seem!

      Like

  5. Such an interesting tale for a bridge! I loved reading it!

    Giggling Fattie
    http://www.noloveforfatties.com

    Like

  6. Yup, I have read several of those folktales. They are all over 🙂 I always wonder why the Devil even bothers.
    The Multicolored Diary

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Devil does come across as very gullible, which is not what you expect from the master of evil.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Damyanti Biswas · · Reply

    The lady in the image, reminds me of the witch from Hansel & Gretel, for some reason!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does have a look of a traditional engraving used for illustrations, like a wood block.

      Like

  8. G’day Rae,
    A triple bridge! What a great tourist attraction. My list of places to visit is extending on every post I read of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect it is and there is a waterfall nearby too.

      Like

  9. Devils or Angels, that’s a gorgeous grouping of bridges!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. joyweesemoll · · Reply

    I knew about the Welsh bridge because I looked it up while watching Hinterland. Funny that the story about the woman and the dog shows up in different areas. It is a good story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. debscarey · · Reply

    That triple-header bridge is bizarre, but I love the story about the old woman, the dog & the devil. I suspect most women do 🙂

    Debs visiting this year from
    Making Yourself Relationship Ready

    Like

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