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The Doric Columns

Brig o' Balgownie Wellington Bridge Victoria Bridge Union Bridge Lesser Bridges

The Bridges

The Characteristics of Medieval Bridges
(1) They have projecting piers, triangular in shape, known as cutwaters. These are found on the upper side with the point towards the stream their purpose being to protect the pier from the force of the current and from the impact of trees and other objects borne along by the water. The upper part of these piers at roadway level have refuges for pedestrians.

(2) The widths of Medieval bridges are commonly from 10ft to enabled the bridge to be kept open during the reconstruction. If the arches are inspected from the underside, by boat if necessary it is easy to see by the straight joints where the widening has occurred. Often the building material and technique is different.

(3) The spans varied from 5 feet in the case of small bridges to 20 feet or more in a few cases. The first were semicircular with a barrel vault. In the 13th century pointed arches replaced these arches and groined vaults replaced barrel vaults. Here the main weight was taken on ribs of stone. Some bridges have had the ribs cut away to improve navigation. In others, the ribs have been filled with brick.

(4) Many Medieval bridges are humped, especially where the roadway rose over pointed Gothic arches. This characteristic rise is seen at Balgownie. The gradually flattening of the Gothic arch had the effect of reducing the hump and a somewhat flatter roadway appears in the 15th century.

(5) Often a Medieval Bridge is extremely long and included a long stone causeway which leads up to it across a flood plain. This is pierced by subsidiary arches which do not regularly have channels of water flowing through them. They are used, however, at times of flood to allow the swollen waters to escape away, instead of ponding up behind the bridge. Folly Bridge, Oxford, had a causeway with no less than 42 arches in the 16th century.

(6) Further structures connected with Medieval Bridges included chapels for bridge Hermits.  Gateways and drawbridges were also found

The Medieval Bridge Over the Dee
Although the original Bridge of Dee dates to the 16th century, a charter dated 1384 shows that there was a much earlier bridge across the River Dee. Although the exact spot of this has never been definitely established it is possible that it spanned the River at Craiglug. The Bridge had fallen into disuse by the mid 15th century when a Charter was issued to erect a New Bridge which never seems to have been built.

King George VI Bridge

The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by the Lord Provost Edward W. Watt on 15th September 1938. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in the presence of the King on 10th March 1941. Today the Bridge carries the Great Southern Road (B9077) into Aberdeen from the South.  

Designer Sir Frank Mears, 1938-1941. 3-span depressed-arch bridge over River Dee with 2 round-arched flood arches to the East.  Constructed in Concrete with rough-faced granite facing; rough-faced arch-rings, finely finished to margins; cutwaters rising to form refuges, each with Coat of arms on outer side; finely finished parapet, with plaque inside to South reading


Two large refuges to East. Stepped down wing wall extending South West with stone steps up to the bridge, County of Aberdeen Coat of arms flanking the steps to right.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013