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Aberdeen, Brig O' Balgownie

Road Bridge (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Aberdeen, Brig O' Balgownie

Classification Road Bridge (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Brig Balgownie; River Don; Bridge Of Balgownie; Bridge Of Don; Old Bridge Of Don

Canmore ID 20161

Site Number NJ90NW 4

NGR NJ 94141 09608

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeen, City Of
  • Parish Aberdeen
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District City Of Aberdeen
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ90NW 4 94141 09608

(NJ 9414 0960) Brig o' Balgownie (NR)

OS 6" map, (1924).

Brig Balgownie (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1974).

Not to be confused with Aberdeen, Bridge of Don (NJ 9461 0941), for which see NJ90NW 231.

Location formerly cited as NJ 94129 09606.

The Brig o' Balgownie, a single gothic span in ashlar with the parapets slighly corbelled, was built c 1320, repaired c 1444, largely rebuilt in the early 17th century and repaired in 1861 and c 1877 when buttresses were added to the approaches.

HBD List No.140; W Nicol 1851.

Visited by OS (JLD) 10 September 1952.

(Location cited as NJ 941 097). Brig o' Balgownie. Built c. 1320 and subsequently repaired and rebuilt, most recently c. 1877. A single-span bridge with a pointed arch. The approaches were widened in 1912.

J R Hume 1977.

Air photographs: AAS/94/05/G10/13-15.

NMRS, MS/712/21.

Bridge; single gothic span in ashlar with slightly corbelled parapets. Built c.1320 by Richard Cementarius (first Provost of Aberdeen); repaired c.1444; largely rebuilt in the 17th century; repaired in 1861 and again c.1877, when buttresses were added to the approaches. The approaches were widened in 1912.

This was the only route into Aberdeen from the N until 1827.

(Additional bibliography cited).

NMRS MS/712/83.

This bridge carries an unclassified public road over the River Don on the northern outskirts of Aberdeen. The river here forms the boundary between the parishes of Aberdeen (to the W) and Old Machar (to the E).

The location assigned to this record defines the apparent midpoint of the structure. The available map evidence suggests that it extends from NJ c. 94130 09605 to NJ c. 94151 09610.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 12 May 2006.

[Former index no. 104]. Descheduled.

Information from Historic Scotland: Certificate of Exclusion from Schedule dated 16 February 2009.

Architecture Notes


Aberdeen, Brig O' Balgownie.

Probably started about 1272 and completed after interruption long after 1294, probably in early 14th century. Richard Cementarius, the King's Master mason, Alderman of Aberdeen in 1272 may have been engaged in building bridge, from Bishop's revenues in the time of Bishop Chein (1285-1328). The bridge was not finished until long after Richard's death, and when it was done it was accredited to King Robert the Bruce rather than to Chein.

Country Life, 9th July 1943, Photograph


Information available at Aberdeen Public Library, Reference Library:

Nicol W. "History of the Old Bridge of Don, 1851

W.Paul. "Notes on the early history of the Brig of Balgownie, 1876

G.M.Fraser. "The Aberdeen Bridges and their story - in John Knox Church Bazaar Book, 1910

"In Aberdeen fifty years ago", 1868.

"In Aberdeen in byegone days", 1910.

John Milne, "Aberdeen", 1911.

Aberdeen Public Libraries - Reference Department

Oil painting C. 1820; Bridge of Balgowie, 1836, lithograph from original by W. Purser. Early part of the nineteenth century, lithograph

Slides: the bridge showing roadway.


SMT Magazine, May, 1951

Plans: Aberdeen:

1/8" plan and elevation. Measured and drawn by Gordon S Esslemont. Measured with J.P.M. Wright and A Tough, 1930. Drawings stored either at Ila Rose Street, Aberdeen, or 150 Crown Street, Aberdeen. (Students of Aberdeen School of Architecture.) Small scale drawings with photographs and notes, a few surveys left. Measured and drawn by Stephen Sutherland, measured with Peter S Leask, 1923-29. Students of Aberdeen School of Architecture - stored at the Aberdeen School of Architecture. (see A.S.R Mackenzie file)

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23115.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Following a General Inspections of the structure in 2002 and 2004 the poor condition of the parapet was noted. Outer face of the parapet was badly weathered and mortar on the inner surface was loose. Repointing works started on 30 May 2006 on the inner surfaces of the parapet. Later scaffold was erected to allow access to the outer parapet surfaces and inspection of the rest of the bridge structure. Following inspection of the arch barrel it was decided to extend the repointing to the soffit of the arch. The works were completed on 4 October 2006.

Aberdeen City Council 2006


Publication Account (2007)

Brig o’ Balgownie, Aberdeen

This fine example of early Scottish bridge building over the Don is believed to have been built ca.1320 by Richard Cementarius, a local mason and the first recorded Provost of Aberdeen. It is a single span Gothic pointed arch with a span of 6934 ft, one of the largest of its kind in Britain at the time, with a roadway 11 ft wide between parapets. The arch is constructed of sandstone and the spandrels and parapet walls are mainly of granite.

Although the bridge formed an important element in the road system northward from Aberdeen it was poorly maintained after the Reformation. A plaque on the bridge states that it was almost totally rebuilt by the Town Council in 1605. In 1605 Alexander Hay executed a Charter of Mortification

for its maintenance which later became the Bridge of Don Fund. This fund not only financed major repairs to the bridge in the 17th and 19th centuries, but also provided capital for the construction of a number of other bridges in north-east Scotland.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.


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