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HER Number:MDV5854
Name:Postbridge Clapper Bridge

Summary

Clapper Bridge over the East Dart River at Postbridge. Probably 13th century in date although it may have had more recent repairs.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 648 789
Map Sheet:SX67NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67NW42
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NW/20
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 92789
  • Old SAM County Ref: 406
  • Pastscape: 442629

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CLAPPER BRIDGE (Constructed, XII to XIV - 1200 AD to 1399 AD (Between))

Full description

Ministry of Public Building and Works, 12/02/1965, Clapper Bridge, Postbridge (Schedule Document). SDV351572.

Bridge built of large stones with footway composed of 4 large slabs on two stone piers. It crosses the East Dart and is perhaps medieval in date. The best example of this type of bridge in Devonshire.


Wilkinson, J. G., 1862, On British Remains on Dartmoor, 123-4 (Article in Serial). SDV277122.

The remains of stepping stones which preceded the clapper bridge on the East Dart at Postbridge can be seen about 136 metres above the clapper bridge. The stones are exceptionally large and have been so little disturbed by floods that passage is still practicable. The piers are constructed of six horizontal courses presenting rounded point to flow of stream. It has been attributed to the ancient Britons but dating is difficult.


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Bridge recorded on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map as 'Cyclopean Bridge (Remains of)'.


Burnard, R., 1905, The Pack-Horse on Dartmoor, 170 (Article in Serial). SDV265905.

Bridge is not ancient British but late medieval at earliest. Some of the slabs resting on the piers probably originate from Bellaford Tor.


Henderson, C. + Jervoise, E., 1938, Old Devon Bridges, 32 (Monograph). SDV2296.

Reported as being in decay in 1670.


Worth, R. H., 1949, The Moorstone Age, Part 1, 323-4 (Article in Serial). SDV274816.

17 july 1890 the river just flowed over the top surface of the lowest slab of the bridge.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950 - 1952, SX67NW42 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV265902.

Clapper bridge, condition of this bridge is excellent.


Worth, R. H., 1953, Dartmoor, 370 (Monograph). SDV231148.

One of the largest clapper bridges on Dartmoor.


Minchinton, W. E., 1973, Industrial Archaeology in Devon, 4 (Monograph). SDV7016.


Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV345608.

Site visit by Department of Environment Field Monument Warden on 6th October 1982.


Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 544-5 (Monograph). SDV249702.


Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV345762.

Site visit by Department of Environment Field Monument Warden on 2nd November 1983.


Richards, J. M., 1984, The National Trust Book of Bridges, 11 (Monograph). SDV265901.

The clapper bridge over the East Dart River at Postbridge is 42 feet 8 inches long, and is constructed of local granite.


Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.), 2000, Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4, 40 (Monograph). SDV339713.

View entitled 'Post bridge, Dartmoor', dated 1797. According to Swete the bridge was in 'pretty good repair' before the new one was erected above it. He says that 'tis impossible to form a conception of a Structure, more simple than this, or better adapted to the situation. It at present consisted of but three Stones in length which placed as imposts, on piers of the same kind extended from one sie of the River to the other'. Swete goes on to state that 'Whatever Stones had been raised at the ends, so as to facilitate the ascent had been removed; having assisted perhaps in the construction of the New bridge.' Swete gives the measurements of the 'imposts', the western one being 14 feet 6 inches long by 6 feet 5 inches wide, the two stones across the middle section were each 11 feet 3 inches long and together were 9 feet wide, the third stone was 14 feet by 5 feet. Bridges like these he says were the only type of bridges on the moor before the construction of the Turnpike roads.


Greeves, T. A. P. + Stanbrook, E., 2004, The Clapper Bridge, Postbridge (Leaflet). SDV355878.

Earliest known historical reference to the bridge was in 1655 when William French the elder, a yeoman of Widecombe leased the Outer Newtake to his sons; the newtake is described as ‘scituate lying and beinge betweene Postbridge and a nutake of on(e) Richard Leeres within the Forest of Dartmoore in the parish of Withecombe’ (Devon Record Office/Merripitt MSS).
In 1675, John Ogilby marked the bridge on a map included in his book ‘Itinerarium Angliae’ and described it as ‘a Stone bridge 3 Arches Calld Post bridg’ (detail shown).
Likely date of the bridge thought to be between AD 1300 and 1655; there were a number of Postbridge Farms established by the mid-13th century and sophisticated arched bridges had been built nearby (New Bridge and Holne Bridge) by the early 15th century or so.
Origin of the bridge slabs discussed; the granite is thought to have come from Bellever Tor, 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometres) to the south, or possibly Lower White Tor. Details of repair work to the bridge and recorded floods detailed.
Circular drilled holes visible in the upper surface of the western slab and the downstream central slab are the remains of 19th century cattle barrier. Wedgecuts are visible on some of the slabs, indicating how the stones were originally split and other shaping to deflect the greatest water force is also detailed. Maximum measurements of the slabs provided, as well as a range of images, including historical maps and plans and photographs.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Clapper Bridge marked on modern mapping.


English Heritage, 2013, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV350785.

Clapper Bridge. Clapper bridge over East Dart river. Probably C13 although it may have had more recent repairs. Roughly shaped blocks of granite to the piers with 3 rough granite lintels. 3-span bridge. This bridge is one of the medieval routes across the moor from Exeter to Tavistock. Scheduled Ancient Monument No 406.


English Heritage, 29/03/1989, Clapper Bridge, Post Bridge, 406 (Schedule Document). SDV351547.


National Monuments Record, 30/10/12, 442629, SX67NW42 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV265912.

Postbridge Clapper Bridge was first mentioned in 1380, but is thought to have been built as early as the 13th century. It is a 3-span bridge of granite on the Medieval route between Exeter and Tavistock. The drystone piers are approximately 3.6 metres wide, rising 2 metres and are spanned by single slabs of granite at and average of 4.5 metres wide. Clapper bridges were probably constructed near to fords, and it is thought that the current road bridge built in the late 18th century next to the clapper bridge is at the site of the ford. The bridge is quite large and may have been able to cope with small carts.


Devon County Council Conservation Section, Unknown, Postbridge Clapper Bridge (Ground Photograph). SDV350464.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX67NW42 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV265900.

Site visits 8th January 1952 and 23rd November 1979. Clapper bridge in excellent condition. Coursed drystone piers 3.4 metres wide rise 2.0 metres and are spanned by single slabs of granite averaging 4.5 metres wide.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV2296Monograph: Henderson, C. + Jervoise, E.. 1938. Old Devon Bridges. Old Devon Bridges. Unknown. 32.
SDV231148Monograph: Worth, R. H.. 1953. Dartmoor. Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 370.
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 544-5.
SDV265900Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX67NW42. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV265901Monograph: Richards, J. M.. 1984. The National Trust Book of Bridges. The National Trust Book of Bridges. Unknown. 11.
SDV265902Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950 - 1952. SX67NW42. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV265905Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1905. The Pack-Horse on Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 37. Unknown. 170.
SDV265912National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 30/10/12. 442629. National Monuments Record Database. Website. SX67NW42.
SDV274816Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1949. The Moorstone Age, Part 1. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 81. A5 Hardback. 323-4.
SDV277122Article in Serial: Wilkinson, J. G.. 1862. On British Remains on Dartmoor. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 18. Unknown. 123-4.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV339713Monograph: Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.). 2000. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 4. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Sw. 4. Hardback Volume. 40.
SDV345608Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV345762Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #96109 ]
SDV350464Ground Photograph: Devon County Council Conservation Section. Unknown. Postbridge Clapper Bridge. Devon County Council Conservation Section Collection. Slide.
SDV350785National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2013. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV351547Schedule Document: English Heritage. 29/03/1989. Clapper Bridge, Post Bridge. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled. 406.
SDV351572Schedule Document: Ministry of Public Building and Works. 12/02/1965. Clapper Bridge, Postbridge. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV355878Leaflet: Greeves, T. A. P. + Stanbrook, E.. 2004. The Clapper Bridge, Postbridge. Leaflet.
SDV7016Monograph: Minchinton, W. E.. 1973. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Paperback Volume. 4.

Associated Monuments

MDV80840Related to: Postbridge Road Bridge (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jan 24 2014 2:25PM