Statement of Special Interest
Upper North Water Bridge is a fine and rare example of a 16th century bridge and is very rare example of a bridge with ribbed arches. With 3 wide segmental arches, the bridge is significant in size and is a prominent feature in the rural landscape. The scale of the bridge and its stonework detailing demonstrates its historical importance as a principal thoroughfare.
Age and Rarity
Upper North Water Bridge was built in the 16th century, sometime between 1520 and 1590. The Old Statistical Account (1791-99) attributes its construction to John Erskine of Dun (1508-1591). Erskine was a friend of John Knox, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, and Erskine himself was a religious reformer who was appointed superintendent of the reformed church of Scotland for Angus and Mearns in 1560. Paxton et al. dates the bridge to the 1520s (2007, p.62) because of its similarity in design and construction with the Bridge of Dee at Aberdeen, which is dated 1520 and 1523 (LB20068). Both bridges have ribbed arches, which is a rare construction detail. Paxton asserts that both bridges were built under the aegis of Bishop Gavin Dunbar by Thomas Franche, master mason, to the design of Alexander Galloway Minister of Kinkeld, although this attribution refutes the Old Statistical Account.
Since its construction the bridge has been repaired and widened, and the extent of the 16th century and 19th century fabric is now unclear. In 1669, David Erskine of Dun (descendant and successor of John Erskine) repaired the bridge and petitioned Parliament to make it a toll bridge in order to keep it in good repair (to the southwest of the bridge is a circa 1800 tollhouse, which is listed separately at category C, LB11172). The new Statistical Account of Marykirk Parish, written in 1842, describes the bridge as being repaired in the summer of that year. It is likely that this work including the widening of the bridge including the cutwaters. The previous list description, written in 1972, credits the repair and widening of this bridge to the Aberdeen engineer, John Gibb.
Buildings erected before 1840 which are of notable quality and survive predominantly in their original form have a strong case for listing. Pre-18th century bridges are rare and listed examples in Angus and Aberdeenshire include the 13th century Brechin Bridge (LB22549) and the aforementioned Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen. Other bridges date from the end of the 18th century, such as the Bridge of Dun (LB4677) and Lower North Water Bridge (LB16330).
Architectural or Historic Interest
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
The bridge has good stonework detailing from the 16th and 19th century. Of particular interest are the 5 dressed stone, square ribs to each segmental arch, a rare construction detail.
John Gibb (1776-1850) was a civil engineer whose work includes harbours, bridges, roads, lighthouses and railways. He was a close associate of the renowned engineer Thomas Telford after working with him on the reconstruction of Aberdeen Harbour (1809-1816).
The bridge is a prominent feature in the landscape and is visible from the A90. This major road is carried on a 20th century river crossing that superseded the Upper North Water Bridge.
The bridge shows similarities with the Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen, suggesting a regional preference for ribbed arches.
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).
Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as 'Upper North Water Bridge' in both Marykirk Parish, Angus and Logie Pert Parish, Aberdeenshire. Formerly a Scheduled Monument, scheduled on 06/10/1970 and descheduled on 26/03/2014.
Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 35883
New Statistical Account (1834-45) Account of 1834-45 Vol XI: Craig and Logie Pert parish, County of Forfar. p.268
New Statistical Account (1834-45) Account of 1834-45 vol.11 p.297 : Marykirk, County of Kincardine. p.302.
Old Statistical Account (1791-99) Account of 1791-99 vol.IX: Logie Pert, County of Forfar. p.53-54.
Paxton R. and Shipway J. (2007) Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland Highlands and Islands. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 62-3.
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, CANMORE, Upper North Water Bridge http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/35883/ [accessed 03/04/2014].
Skempton, A. (ed) (2002) Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers Vol. 1 1500-1830 - John Gibb London: Thomas Telford Publishing. p.248-250.
Warden, A. J. (1881) Angus or Forfarshire, the land and its people, descriptive and historical. Dundee. p.234.
Cameron, A. C (1899) The History of Fettercairn, Chapter XXI—Bridges, Fords, and Ferries. Paisley [available at http://www.electricscotland.com/history/fettercairn/chapter21.htm] [viewed on 2/03/2014].
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Printed: 25/08/2019 12:46