Monnow Bridge Gate, Monmouth

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Bridge

There are major building remains

NameMonnow Bridge Gate, Monmouth
Alternative Names
Historic CountryMonmouthshire
Modern AuthorityMonmouthshire
1974 AuthorityGwent
CommunityMonmouth

Monnow Bridge is a three span stone bridge, dating from c.1272, carrying a gatehouse of c.1290. It was widened on both sides in the early 19th century, when the cut-waters are thought to have been refaced, but not extended, and pedestrian arches were cut through the flanking towers of the gatehouse. Fortified in 1839. Part of: Monmouth medieval town walls (Coflein)

Sole remaining example of its type in the UK, built between 1297-1315 when Monmouth was being walled in stone. It consists of a guardroom over the gate and a single arched gateway (the present small pedestrian side arches are a C19th addition), the whole standing in the centre of a bridge. The bridge provided an outer defence on the west, giving access between the defended suburb of Clawdd ddu and Monnow Street, which led up to the town and castle. Alterations have been carried out from time to time and the gatehouse was last occupied by troops in 1839 at the time of the Chartist troubles. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

At the entrance to Monmouth's principal commercial street which leads up the hill to the town square from the south-west.

Medieval Bridge and Gateway, built in the late C13 (traditionally 1272) to replace a timber bridge built by the Normans (now known to date from the 1170s). This was a part of the general improvement to the town's defences and walls undertaken c1297-1315. The only surviving bridge gateway of its type in Britain, although altered in the C18 and C19. The tower has been used at various times as a toll-house, guard room, gaol and house-of-correction. The gatehouse was last occupied by troops during the Chartist troubles in 1839. In 1705 it was converted into a two storey dwelling and the battlemented parapet was removed and replaced by a roof arrangement similar to the present one, but this was reconstructed in 1832

In 1819 the bridge was widened and the narrow north passageway pierced for pedestrians involving considerable alteration to the structure, with the loss of the original staircase. Originally the total width of the bridge was comprised within the width of what is now the roadway, and footways have been corbelled out on either side. The south footway was supposedly made in 1845 but has a later concrete roof. Recently (2004) closed to all traffic and a programme of works and repairs initiated.

The interior shows much more clearly how the stonework was repaired and raised in the C19, including a number of courses of red brick at the eaves. The roof structure has principal rafters with ties, all machine cut, and numerous light secondary rafters and purlins. The garderobe survives internally. There is no stair or surviving second floor.

Built of coursed red sandstone rubble with some patching in buff sandstone, stone slate roof to gateway. Stone arched gate tower built on the eastern pier of the three arched bridge. The bridge has three pointed arches, with cutwaters on both sides of the piers, but the arches are segmental where the outer faces were added in the C19. The gate tower is elliptical in shape with two distinct elevations. The west elevation has a tall recessed slightly pointed arch with foot arches on either side, the north one with a pointed head and the south one with a Caernarvon head and flat concrete ceiling. Above the main arch there is an overhang with three arches on brackets under a wide relieving arch. There are murder holes, while within the main arch there are grooves for a portcullis. There are slit windows on either side of the arch and another window above the centre of the relieving arch. Projecting garderobe on the north-west side. The east face is plainer and shows signs of more considerable rebuilding, with patching round the arch. Round headed window above the centre of the arch. The inner faces of the main arch have an oak access door on the south side and the blocked original access on the north side which once gave entry to a spiral stair. but this was lost when the north foot-arch was built. The roof has projecting eaves on corbel brackets and is in the form of two half cones joined by a central ridge. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceSO504124
Latitude51.8090209960938
Longitude-2.72000002861023
Eastings350450
Northings212490
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Copyright Charles Dawson All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 176
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 175
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 125-126
  • Clark, S., 2008, Down the dig: Monmouth – an adventure in archaeology (Monmouth: Monmouth Archaeological Society)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 27, 48, 95, 132, 143, 272
  • Kissack, Keith, 2003, Monmouth and its Buildings (Logaston Press) p. 9
  • Newman, John, 2000, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire (Yale University Press) p. 402
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press)133-4
  • Rowlands, M.L.J., 1994, Monnow Bridge and Gate (Stroud: Alan Sutton)
  • Salter, Mike, 1991, The Castles of Gwent, Glamorgan and Gower (Malvern) p. 24
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds), Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy (plan)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus)
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 online copy
  • Kissack, K.E., 1974, Medieval Monmouth (Monmouth Hist and Educ Trust)
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 207
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (Methuen and Co) p. 244
  • Bradney, J.A., 1904-33, History of Monmouthshire Vol. 1 p. 7, 16
  • Bagnall-Oakeley, 1896, Papers on Monmouth Castle (Mon. and Caerleon Ant. Ass.) p. 47-59
  • Coxe, W., 1801, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire (London) Vol. 2 p. 302-3
  • Grose, F., 1756, Antiquities of England and Wales Vol. 3 p. 157 online copy

Journals

  • 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
  • Rowlands, M.L.J., 1993, 'Monnow Bridge and gate, Monmouth' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 142 p. 243-287
  • Clarke, S.H., Jackson, P. and R., 1992, 'Archaeological Evidence for Monmouth's Roman, and Early Medieval Defences' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 32 p. 1-6
  • Shoesmith, 1973, Archaeology in Wales Vol. 13 p. 53-4
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132

Guide Books

  • Taylor, A.J., 1951, Monmouth Castle (HMSO) p. 10-13
  • Bagnell-Oakeley, 1896, The Fortification of Monmouth (Monmouth)

Other

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