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Pathhead, Lothian Bridge

Road Bridge (19th Century)

Site Name Pathhead, Lothian Bridge

Classification Road Bridge (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Ford; Tyne Bridge; Tyne Valley; Tyne Water; Pathhead Bridge

Canmore ID 53552

Site Number NT36SE 23

NGR NT 39100 64527

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Crichton
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT36SE 23 39100 64527

Lothian Bridge [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1982.

For (comparable) Dean Bridge, Edinburgh, see NT27SW 673.

(Loaction cited as NT 391 646). Lothian Bridge: built 1827-31, engineer Thomas Telford. A 5-span bridge with segmental arches, built of dressed stone. The design is similar to that of Dean Bridge, Edinburgh (NT27SW 673), with flat-segmental arches carrying the footpaths and smaller-radius arches supporting the carriageway.

J R Hume 1976.

Pathhead Bridge, carrying the Great North Road [sic.] over the Tyne Water at Midlothian [sic.], was a smaller version of the Dean Bridge (NT27SW 673), and was completed in the same year [1831]. It is 68ft [20.7m] high, and has five spans of 48ft [14.6m].

L T C Rolt 1979.

This bridge carries the A68 (T) public road across the Tyne Water to the NW of Pathhead village (NT36SE 71). The river here forms the boundary between the parishes of Crichton (to the S) and Cranston (to the N).

The cited location refers to the apparent centre of the span of the bridge. The available map evidence indicates that it extends from NT c. 39066 64561 to NT c. 39162 64474.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 19 March 1997.

Built 1827-31 by Thomas Telford (engineer) and James Lees (builder), the bridge carries the A68 trunk road across the Tyne Water to the north-west of Pathhead. The bridge comprises five ashlar semi-circular inner arches, with segmental outer arches supported by pilasters in the centre of the piers carrying the footpaths and parapets.

Information from RCAHMS (MKO), 2001.

Lothian Bridge [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, April 2011.


Publication Account (1985)

In the early 17th century, the main road from Edinburgh to the Merse, via Soutra, was described as 'so worne and spoylled as hardlie is thair any

journaying on horse or fute ... botwith haisard and perrell'.

And although the first Scottish Turnpike Act was passed in 1750, it was 1840 before Thomas Telford's grand new turnpike between Dalkeith and Greenlaw was finally ready. The modem road is essentially Telford's road, and his graceful Lothian Bridge still carries all its traffic.

Built in 1827-31 of well-dressed stone, it has 5 spans of flattened segmental arches, very similar to those of his Dean Bridge over the Water of Leith in Edinburgh (1829-31). The arches rise some 24 m from the river, to a 15 m span.

In carrying the new road over the peaceful Tyne, the bridge superceded the ford which gave its name to the attractive village in the valley bottom. Pathhead, by contrast, reflects the top of the track which climbed steeply up, south from the ford: it is essentially a mid-18 th century village of one-and two-storeyed houses built in a long line both sides of the curving, uphill

A 68. Much renovated, the earlier roofs are pantiled and more steeply-pitched, and on No. 101 a carved stone bears the royal warrant mark of the leatherworkers.

Not far to the south of Path head a temporary Roman camp has been identified from crop-markings recorded on aerial photographs. It may be that the Roman road, on its way towards Eskbank or Dalkeith, crossed at the ford and continued northward very much along the line of the present impressively straight road through Chesterhill and Edgehead.

Nearby is the linear estate village of Dewartown (NT 378641); also the Dewar family's uncompromisingly massive Victorian mansion house of 1875 at Vogrie (NT 380632). The estate, with its attractive early 19th century Gothic stable-block, is now a country park.

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders' (1985).

Project (2007)

This project was undertaken to input site information listed in 'Civil engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' by R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Publication Account (2007)

This striking sandstone masonry bridge, crossing about 90 ft above the Tyne Water at the north end of Pathhead, was designed by Telford as part of the Edinburgh to Morpeth road improvement, now the A68. It has five semicircular masonry arches, each of 50 ft span and was built by James Lees from 1829–31 at a cost of about £8500. The footpaths are partly carried on shallower arches carried 2 ft forward of the main spans but bonded to them. This ‘ascititious’ or ‘external’ arch and pier pilaster feature, as Telford called it, was intended to make the bridge look more slender. It is not altogether successful as the eye tends to move restlessly between the two arches affecting the harmony of the elevation. His adoption of this feature at Dean Bridge, Edinburgh, where the external arches extend 5 ft forward of the main spans, is much more effective in producing a slenderness effect.

Problems were encountered in founding the bridge. ‘An iron rod was driven 56 ft without impediment so piling became out of the question. Telford, Jardine & other persons of science and skill were consulted and in conformity with their directions, the piers were founded upon platforms composed of double tiers of memel logs and of three tiers of stones from Craigleith quarry. This has occasioned an extra expense of about £2000 and it was unexpected as the ground had been bored’, but what was thought to be bedrock 13 ft below the surface turned out to be ‘large round stones’.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

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


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