Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Lower North Water Bridge

Road Bridge (18th Century)

Site Name Lower North Water Bridge

Classification Road Bridge (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Fisherhills, Bridge Over North Esk; River North Esk; St Cyrus

Canmore ID 36372

Site Number NO76SW 38

NGR NO 72459 62177

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Montrose
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO76SW 38 72459 62177

Lower North Water Bridge [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1976.

For mill lead (NO 710 628), see NO76SW 49.

For (adjacent to E) North Water (railway) viaduct, see NO76SW 39.


Architect: John Adam, (reconstruction) 1770-75

John Smeaton.

Andrew Barrie (reconstruction).

(Undated) information in NMRS.

(Location cited as NO 723 622). Fisherhills, Bridge over North Esk, built 1770-5 by engineers John Adam, John Smeaton and Andrew Barrie. An exceptionally fine 7-span bridge with segmental arches and triangular cutwaters. The spandrels of the central arch and its neighbours are decorated with oculi. At the S end are commemmorative plaques.

J R Hume 1977.

This bridge carries the A92 public road over the River North Esk, which here forms the boundary between the parishes of Montrose (Angus and Tayside Region) and St Cyrus (Kincardineshire and Grampian Region), to the S and N respectively.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 29 April 1998.

A road bridge carrying the A92 road over the River North Esk to the north of Montrose. Built between 1770 and 1775 by the engineers John Adam, John Smeaton and Andrew Barrie, it comprises seven segmental arches with triangular cutwaters, the spandrels above the two central cutwaters having decorative oculi. There are commemorative plaques on both parapets at the south end of the bridge.

Information from RCAHMS (MKO), 2002.

The location assigned to this record defines the apparent midpoint of the structure. The available map evidence indicates that it extends from NO c. 72400 62225 to NO c. 72500 62143.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 20 April 2006.


Construction (1770 - 1775)

The inscription at the south end of the bridge attributes the design of the bridge to Smeaton, John Adam and Andrew Barrie, but it was the last named, a mason in

Montrose, who made the major input to the as-built design.

Information from R Paxton and J Shipway 2007b, 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' .

Photographic Survey (July 1964)

Photographic survey of Lower North Water Bridge, Angus, bby the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Works in July 1964.

Aerial Photography (24 July 2003)

Aerial Photography (23 August 2007)

Out of Edinburgh, recording sites for the Defence, Railways, Civil Engineering and TBS projects covering an area of the NE coast from Dundee to Stonehaven.

Measured Survey (7 December 2007 - 19 August 2008)

NO 7245 6217 During renovation work, 7 December 2007–19 August 2008, a survey of masons’ marks was undertaken, partly from scaffolding and partly from a cradle slung under the arches.

The bridge, designed by John Smeaton and constructed between 1770 and 1775, has eight arches. A total of 947 marks has been recorded. Fourteen possible masons have been identified, seven of whom worked on all parts of the bridge. Two marks were observed only on the foundations levels and the remainder occur less frequently and may belong to masons who were only employed for parts of the project.

A second series of marks which appear on the same stones as the masons’ marks appear to be location marks. The letter M occurs only on the foundation levels. Letters A–D occur in sequence, with D for the outer arches, moving inwards to A on the stones of the central river span. The underside of the central span also bears a relief-carved date of 1774, presumably when the final arch was completed.

Report: Aberdeenshire SMR and RCAHMS

Funder: Aberdeenshire Council

HK and JC Murray (Murray Archaeological Services Ltd), 2008

Publication Account (2007)

This fine bridge, of seven segmental masonry arches, was built from 1770–75 and carries the A92 road over the North Esk some 3 miles north of Montrose. The arch spans are graduated so that the bridge has a 63 ft centre arch and 40 ft span

side arches. Although featuring dressed arch-rings, quoins and mouldings, the bridge’s piers and spandrels are of scrabbled masonry. This practice of Smeaton’s at Perth influenced similar finishes being adopted on most large Scottish

bridges for a considerable time.

The inscription at the south end of the bridge attributes the design of the bridge to Smeaton, John Adam and Andrew Barrie, but it was the last named, a mason in

Montrose, who made the major input to the as-built design. He based this on a design and details prepared previously by Smeaton for a bridge at another site. Adam offered advice to the bridge trustees and prepared adraft of the contract. Barrie and Patrick Brown were joint contractors for building the bridge.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007b

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

Publication Account (2013)

The two bridges are best viewed by taking the minor road to Warburton (‘Steptoes’) on the north side, as the bends on the A92 do not suit a stop. The former rail viaduct then permits a pedestrian route to the south end of the road bridge.

The A92 Lower North Water Bridge was built in 1770 - 1775 by Andrew Barrie using a design of John Smeaton and contract drafted by John Adam. All three are credited in Latin, beside the major landowner. 7 arches with cutwaters, the centre having 63’ span. Barrie was joint contractor with Andrew Brown.

Northwater Bridge Viaduct, a 12-arch railway viaduct, 5 of them skewed over the river, was built in1865 for the Montrose and Bervie Railway by Blyth and Blyth. The junction between the skewed river spans and the more conventional arches required an extra thick pier. It was repaired c2000 and passed to Sustrans as part of a long-distance cycle route.

M Watson, 2013


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions