For this post I’m revealing X Roman bridges. Of course these aren’t standing bridges but their supposed remains. Some are pillars sunk into a riverbed, the foundations of abutments or the remains of arches.
I – London Bridge was originally Roman, which I covered in an earlier post.
II – Chesters bridge (nothing to do with the Roman city of Chester) over the River North Tyne which lies adjacent to Hadrian’s wall. The fort located there was originally called Cilurnum. The remains of the bridge’s west abutments are some distance from the current riverbank as the river has changed course in the intervening years. The ruins of the stonework were first discovered in 1860 and there were probably two bridges built during the Roman occupation.
III – Piercebridge Roman Bridge over River Tees at County Durham. The bridge carried the Dere Street Roman Road which ran from York to the Antonine Wall in Scotland. Again there was likely to have been two bridges and what remains is the base of five stone piers. The foundations were discovered in 1972 during quarrying. The stones are big, up to 1.5 metres long.
IV – Pons Aelius, Latin for Aelian Bridge is a fort on Hadrian’s Wall. Remains might have been uncovered during the 19th Century but the bridge’s exact location isn’t known. What has been recovered are stone inscriptions, and rather like the chapels on Medieval bridges, there were altars on Roman ones. These altar stones were dredged from the mud of the River Tyne. They might also have been dropped into the water as part of a dedication ceremony.
V – Corbridge had a stone bridge over the River Tyne which survived the Great flood of 1771, and given the town of Corbridge was the site of a major Roman fort, it is likely there was a Roman bridge there to the west of the current modern one.
VI – Not all bridges carry roads. The Willow Bridge carried Hadrian’s Wall across the River Irthing and protected the bank from erosion. There were probably three successive bridges built over the river – the Romans did occupy England for four centuries. Though there is no bridge there any more, there clearly had to be something given the gap left.
So yes, I’ve found VI probable Roman bridges, but those are the best documented and named. The reality is there just isn’t the information to list X. But given the network of roads and forts across the length of the country, there were probably many, many more, including some being temporary pontoons.
I didn’t make it to X , only X minus IV, but lets not quibble, it’s more likely that Roman bridges in Britain were X x X. (Thank God we don’t use Roman numerals any more!)