Barnstaple Long Bridge

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Bridge

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBarnstaple Long Bridge
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple

Barnstaple Long Bridge is a late 13th century stone bridge of 16 pointed arches, 520 feet long and approached by two causeways. Sir Henry de Tracey (died 1274) left in his will certain rents for its upkeep. Grade 1 (Oliver 1938; Oliver 1946; list of buildings 1973).

The origin of Barnstaple's Long Bridge is obscure. In 1333 the bridge was being repaired, and early in the 16th century it had 13 stone arches which were "much dilapidated". Three wooden arches known as Maiden Arches were rebuilt with stone in 1589. The narrow packhorse bridge with projecting cut-waters and recesses was widened in 1796 when the recesses were removed, and again in 1832 when a supplementary footpath was added.

It was finally widened in 1963 and the medieval, pointed arches, 4.1 m wide, can be clearly seen beneath the modern arches. (The source of Harper's illustration is now known, possibly a reconstruction) (Harper 1910; Field Investigators Comments F1 MJF 01-APR-1976)

Bridge. Probably built originally in the C13th of masonry (never of wood). Sixteen stone arches, thirteen of them medieval, the three on the town side apparently replaced in 1589. 520ft long plus the original causeways, the W causway 1500ft, the E one, up to the South Gate, 300ft. The bridge has been widened three times, the last time-inconcrete faced with masonry- in the 1960s, when the cast-iron additions of 1834 (by James Green) were replaced in masonry. On the underside of the arches the medieval width of less than 10ft can still be seen (Pevsner 1989). (PastScape 33920)

St Thomas a Becket's Chapel beside the east end of Barnstaple Bridge is recorded in 1312 (Henderson and Jervoise). (PastScape 33904)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS557329
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  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 153
  • Cruse, J.B., 1982, The Long Bridge of Barnstaple & the Bridge Trust (Barnstaple: Aycliffe Press)
  • Bone, M., 1973, Barnstaple's Industrial Archaeology (Exeter Industrial Archaeological Group) p. 11
  • Henderson, C. and Jervoise, E., 1938, Old Devon Bridges (A. Wheaton) p. 86
  • Harper, S., 1910, History of Barnstaple for Boys and Girls, Past and Present (Barnstaple: Sydney Harper & Sons) p. 57, 58


  • Pill, D.H., 1966, 'The Administration of the Diocese of Exeter under Bishop Veysey' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 98 p. 262-78
  • Oliver, B.W., 1946, 'The Long Bridge of Barnstaple Part 2' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 78 p. 177-92
  • Oliver, B.W., 1938, 'The Long Bridge of Barnstaple' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 70 p. 193-7
  • Chope, R.P., 1926-27, 'Early Bridges' Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries Vol. 14 p. 94, 96


  • Bruce Watson, 2013 Sept, Gazetteer of fortified bridges (working list kindly shared with Gatehouse)