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Historic England Research Records

Chesters Bridge Abutment

Hob Uid: 19107
Location :
Northumberland
Wall, Humshaugh
Grid Ref : NY9136070070
Summary : The site of Chesters Bridge Abutment. It consists of the remains of a Roman stone bridge which carried Hadrian's Wall across the North Tyne, close to Chesters Roman Fort. The bridge had two phases of construction. The first bridge built under Hadrian, probably between AD 122 and AD 130, was carried on eight stone piers. However this was replaced after AD 192 by a more substantial bridge constructed on three massive stone piers with towers and a water mill. The bridge was approached by a ramp carrying the Military Way. The ramp was held in place by a stepped retaining wall to prevent it collapsing into the river. Two abutments and three piers of the later bridge survive, as well as fragments of the earlier bridge. Parts of both abutments are consolidated and visible with their accompanying tower bases; two of the piers can be seen in the river bed when the water is low and the third is buried in the east bank of the river. Foundations of one of the towers indicate that it measured 6 metres by 6 metres in size. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (NY 91417007) Abutment of ROMAN BRIDGE (G.S.C.) (1)

Ministry of Works pamphlet "Chesters Roman Fort" (2)

The eastern abutment is as described, and well preserved, the other is normally submerged, but remains are visible during low water at NY 9135 7009. Published survey (25") revised. (3)

Both abutments and three piers of the later bridge survive, as well as fragments of the earlier bridge. Parts of both abutments are consolidated and visible with their accompanying tower bases; two of the piers can be seen in the river bed when the water is low and the third is buried in the E bank of the river. For a full description and discussion see (4a). Surveyed by RCHME and Tyne & Wear Museums Service, May 1991 (4b) and 1992-3. (4)

Excavation of the western bridge abutment. As with the east abutment, the footings of the tower survive. Excavation of deposits underlying the tower found a denarius, giving a date of 191-2 for the terminus post quem of the tower. The bridge was approached by a ramp, confirming that the Military Way was carried over the demolished towers (first phase?) onto the bridge. The ramp was held in place by a stepped retaining wall to prevent it collapsing into the river. (5)

Scheduled. (6)

The eastern abutment has a massive pier which supported a tower within which was a water mill, the race for which can still be seen. Under Hadrian, the bridge was a modest afair carried on eight stone piers. In the third century, this was replaced by a substantial bridge built on three massive piers. (7)

A Roman Bridge abutment and mill race are visible as structures on air photographs at NY 9136 7007. The eastern abutment can be seen along with the foundations of a tower measuring 6m by 6m. Fragmentary remains of the mill race described by authority 7 are also visible. (8)

Web reference (9)

Metallurgical analysis by Mr Ted Morgan (unpublished) has shown that the tie-bars are of pure lead. It had previously been thought that the lead might have been alloyed with tin to improve its tensile strength. The sequence of robbing has also been reassessed in connection with the Hexham and Corbridge studies. The demolition of the east abutment and road ramp was almost certainly undertaken to obtain stone for Hexham. Demolition of the superstructure of the bridge and arches may have occurred earlier in order to recover lead and iron from the fabric. 7 to 8 tonnes of lead were used for the tie-bars in the abutments and piers. The metal was used extensively in roofing early Anglo-Saxon churches. (10)

Located on the English Heritage map of Hadrian's Wall 2010. (11)

Depiction in the James Irwin Coates Archive (1879) shows the turret, millrace, and bridge abutment. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500 1964
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Birley, E 1959 Chesters Roman Fort (M.O.W. guidebook)
Page(s) : 25-Jun
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Link to Visitor Information on the English Heritage website [Accessed 23-SEP-2008]: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.13153
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Hadrian's Wall 1999-2009
Source details :
Page(s) : 107-8
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 11
Source : An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 scale
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 12
Source : Hadrian's Wall: archaeological research by English Heritage 1976-2000
Source details :
Page(s) : 17
Figs. : 41-2
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DS 15.06.1967
Page(s) :
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Plates :
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden/22-JAN-1993/RCHME: Chesters Roman Fort Survey
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 4a
Source : Hadrian's Wall Bridges
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.9
Source Number : 4b
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden, Keith Blood and Bill Griffiths/29-MAY-1991/RCHME: Chesters Roman Bridge Survey
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 5
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 234
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22, 1991
Source Number : 6
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 14-Jul-97
Page(s) :
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Plates :
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Source Number : 7
Source : Hadrian's Wall : history and guide
Source details :
Page(s) : 55-6
Figs. :
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Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR MAL/76027 0205 13-May-1976
Page(s) :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Extant AD 122-192
Monument End Date : 192
Monument Start Date : 122
Monument Type : Bridge
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Rebuilt after AD 192
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 192
Monument Type : Bridge, Watermill, Mill Race
Evidence : Structure, Architectural Component

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ND 28(17)
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Hadrian's Wall Project Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 9170/5
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26051
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : 9275
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : NMR 4112/18
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 84
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 97 SW 4
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1009727
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1328580
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1012583
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CHESTERS (EASTERN BRIDGE ABUTMENT)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1860-01-01
End Date : 1863-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CHESTERS (EASTERN BRIDGE ABUTMENT)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1946-01-01
End Date : 1946-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 97 SW 4
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-06-15
End Date : 1967-06-15
Associated Activities : Primary, CHESTERS (EASTERN BRIDGE ABUTMENT)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1982-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: HADRIAN'S WALL PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1993-08-01
Associated Activities : Primary, CHESTERS (WESTERN BRIDGE ABUTMENT)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: CHESTERS ROMAN BRIDGE SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1991-05-29
End Date : 1991-05-30
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: HADRIAN'S WALL WHS MAPPING PROJECT, NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31