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Coldstream, Coldstream Bridge

Road Bridge (18th Century)

Site Name Coldstream, Coldstream Bridge

Classification Road Bridge (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) River Tweed

Canmore ID 59630

Site Number NT84SW 25

NGR NT 84880 40130

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Coldstream
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Berwickshire
  • Former County Berwickshire

Archaeology Notes

NT84SW 25.00 84880 40130

NT84SW 25.01 84849 40188 Marriage House (tollhouse at N end of bridge)

Coldstream Bridge [NAT]

OS 1:2500 map, 1968.

(Location cited as NT 849 401). Coldstream Bridge and Tollhouse, built 1763-7, engineer John Smeaton, widened 1962. A seven-span bridge with dressed-stone arch rings and rubble spandrels, which are pierced between the main piers by flood relief holes, now blocked. The five main segmental spans are flanked by single semicircular flood arches and there is a dentilated cornice.

J R Hume 1976.

Coldstream Bridge, 1763-6, James Smeaton, for the Tweed Bridges Trust. Seven-arched with arch bands, triple keystones and battered semi-octagonal cutwaters. The main arches are all of the same radius to save on shuttering costs. The spandrels hold large keyted oculi with dark flint infill. The pilastered parapet has been corbelled out to achieve the widening of the bridge surface in 1960-1.

C A Strang 1994.

This bridge carries the A698 public road across the River Tweed to the E of the town of Coldstream (NT83NW 64). The river here forms the Anglo-Scottish border, between the parishes of Coldstream (Berwickshire) and Horncliffe (Northumberland).

The location assigned to this record defines the centre of the structure. The available map evidence indicates that it exists from NT c. 84855 40168 to NT c. 84920 40081.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 3 February 2006.

Architecture Notes

see also NT84SW 25.1 Coldstream Bridge, Marriage House


1763 - 66 John Smeaton.


Records in possession of Tweed Bridge Trust, Norham


Construction (1762 - 1767)

Modification (1828)

Spandrel walls cracked, reconstructed with arched cavities

Modification (1960)

Arches strengthened with reinforced concrete.

Publication Account (1985)

At Coldstream, between 1763 and 1767, John Smeaton built a fine 7 arch bridge across the Tweed, much higher and with flatter arches than the earlier bridges. The 5 main, segmental arches are bounded either side by semi-circular flood arches, and whilst the arches themselves are of well-dressed stone, the spandrels (those areas above and between) are rubble-built The flood relief holes high in the spandrels have been filled in; above them a line of corbels protrude below the parapet The bridge was widened in 1962.

Coldstream derived its original importance from its ford-the first of any consequence above Berwick, it is sometimes said, though that at Ladykirk was also significant On the English side of the border, splendid castles at Wark and Norham respectively commanded access to each ford. Just east of Wark is the site of the battle of Car ham where Malcolm II's victory over the Anglian Northumbrians led to the adoption of the Tweed as the national frontier from 1018. A few kilometres south-east by contrast, the Scots were decimated in 1513 at Flodden Field (NT 890370). This was the route chosen, therefore, by so many armies, Scottish and English. Even today there is no further bridge upstream before John Rennie's magnificent

creation at Kelso, built 1800-3 (NT 728336).

Until an Act of Parliament in 1856 forbade clandestine weddings,Coldstream was an eastern equivalent of Gretna Green. Runaway marriages from England were contracted in the toll-house-the one-storey building, with extension, immediately north on the east side of the bridge.

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)

iThe earliest of three large masonry bridges designed and built under John Smeaton’s direction. It was erected

across the Tweed from 1762–67 and has five segmental arches with three different spans built to the same radius so that the centring could be reused. This practice resulted in spans from the sides to the centre of 58 ft, 60 ft 5 in. and 68 ft 8 in. producing an attractive elevation and acceptable road gradients. The decorative circles in the spandrels, that suggest transverse cavities to lighten the load on the piers, originally concealed a cavity in the direction of the road filled with loose material. By 1828 the spandrel walls had become cracked and off-plumb and they were reconstructed with arched cavities between on Sir John Rennie’s advice. The foundations are protected from scour by surrounds known as ‘starlings’, originally of rubble stone but now of concrete. As a further precaution the cauld, or dam, downstream was built in 1785 to provide a stilling pool at the piers. The major flood levels and their dates are recorded on the north abutment.n 1960 the arches were strengthened with reinforced concrete below the roadway which was widened over the spandrel walls by the addition of cantilevered footways.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

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

Sbc Note

Visibility: Standing structure or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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