Holt Bridge

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Bridge

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHolt Bridge
Alternative NamesFarndon Bridge
Historic CountryDenbighshire
Modern AuthorityWrexham
1974 AuthorityClwyd

Spanning the broad River Dee which forms the boundary between Wales and England. Carries the main road, formerly the A 534, between Holt and Farndon

Medieval road bridge of uncertain date. In 1368 a trial at the County Court of Chester refers to a bridge between Farndon and Le Holt, with a fortified gateway, constructed by John, Earl of Warenne; it states that the said bridge was built in the 12th year of the reign of Edward III which would be 1338-9. However the present structure, which has no fortified gateway is more likely to be C15 or C16. Leland recorded "a great stone bridge on Dee Ryver" and it was also described by Pennant in 1778 - he mentioned 10 arches so one may have been lost at E end. Civil War damage; modern restoration.

Built of local red sandstone. 8 segmental arches cross the river, separated on both sides by prominent pointed cutwaters with refuges, and a 9th arch exists in the causeway on the Welsh side. Narrow, single carriageway, bridge with gently ramped roadway spanning approximately 84m. Stringcourse to base of parapet and chamfered voussoirs to 2-order arches which are of varying height suggesting alterations. The 3rd arch from the Welsh bank may mark the position of the gateway or guardhouse with drawbridge - see the high arch ring and masonry changes. Pitched stone coping to parapet. Modern resurfacing of roadway. At E downstream side the parapet is corbelled back at a skewed angle to end in a simple pier; on upstream side the parapet turns N with the line of the road and tapers down to a low pier; modern railings although sockets for older railings exist. At W the parapet continues on both sides along a causeway across low lying ground; turns S and tapers, cut on downstream side and ending at gated entry to field on upstream side. (Listed Building Report)

The monument includes a red sandstone bridge of circa 1345 date which links Cheshire with Clwyd

It comprises five arches over the River Dee with one flood arch on the east (Farndon) side and two on the west (Holt) side in Clwyd. The abutments have been widened and rebilt in the early 19th century. The western-most river arch (in Clwyd) has a single ring of voussoirs rising above a flatter 20th century lower arch. According to tradition, the bridge was fortified and this altered arch may replace a draw-span. The western (Clwyd) abutment, has a rebuilt eastern flood arch. Between the flood-arches and abutments the medieval bridge is unwidened and little altered. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The bridge spans the Dee, which is the national boundary at this point. The gate was mid stream on the fifth arch but seems to be intended to control access into Holt, that is the defenses 'protected' welsh Holt. However the funding of the bridge was ambiguous and for much of the time it seems to have been funded with money from Cheshire.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ411543
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Hubbard, E., 1986, The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (Yale University Press) p. 183
  • Jervoise, E., 1936, Ancient Bridges of Wales and the West of England (London; The Architectural Press for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) p. 21
  • RCAHMW, 1914, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Denbighshire (HMSO) p. 76 no. 240 online copy


  • Lichfield Joint Record Office, Court Rolls, B/A/21/123308/1 (Description of bridge in 1627) (quoted in Booth 1997)
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, Leland's Itinerary in Wales  (Bell and Sons; London) p. 69 online copy


  • Harrison, D., McKeague, P. and Watson, B., 2010, 'England's fortified medieval bridges and bridge chapels: a new survey' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 25 p. 45-51 online copy
  • < >Booth, P.H.W., 1997, "The Corporation of Holt, the Manor of Farndon, and the Bridge over the Dee, Denbighshire' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 146 p. 109-16 online partial transcription < >
  • Ward, S., 1992, 'A survey of Holt-Farndon medieval bridge' Cheshire Past Vol. 1 p. 14-15
  • Pratt, D., 1965, 'The medieval borough of Holt', Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions Vol. 14 p. 43
  • O'Neil, B.H.StJ., 1933, 'Holt Bridge' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 88.1 p. 101-2

Primary Sources

  • Public Record Office, Palatinate of Chester, Indictment Rolls, CHES 25/4 m.21


  • Bruce Watson, 2013 Sept, Gazetteer of fortified bridges (working list kindly shared with Gatehouse)
  • CPAT Historic Settlement Survey online copy
  • Richard Wilson, before 1762, Holt Bridge on the River Dee - painting oil on canvas The National Gallery