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Chippenham Bridge

In the civil parish of Chippenham.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST91967335
Latitude 51.45922° Longitude -2.11703°

Chippenham Bridge has been described as a Fortified Bridge although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


Possible Fortified Bridge. Haslam (1984) suggests the presence of a defended river crossing point, roughly in the location of the present town bridge. Although there is neither archaeological nor historical evidence for this, it would make good strategic sense to fortify the sole northern access point to the spur, which would be the weakest link in the chain of defence. Bridges may have existed as part of the defences at several burhs (Cook 1998). There is evidence at the Saxon town of Wallingford in Oxfordshire that the boundary of the modern borough, on the east bank of the Thames, marks the position of a Saxon bridgehead, which was designed to block and control the river. A closer parallel is the Devon burh at Barnstaple, where the bridge was located outside the defended area of the settlement 'at the point on the river that combined both proximity to the town and the shortest distance to the high ground on the south side of the river' (ibid.). (Mcmahon 2004)

Haslam suggestion of a fortified bridge is from analogue only and is weak. There is nothing to suggest the medieval bridge was fortified nor does its repair seem to have been systemically accounted for and it does not seem to have had even a toll-bar. A causeway to the south of the town was maintained by voluntary offerings given to a hermit but the bridge and associated causeway north of the town is not recorded as having any similar arrangement.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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