Moulton Packhorse Bridge

Moulton Packhorse Bridge
James Yardley, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The ancient road from Bury St Edmunds to Cambridge features a medieval bridge spanning more than 20m. Although the name implies the bridge was strictly intended for packhorses, it is actually wide enough to accommodate carts as well. However, the Moulton Packhorse bridge is solely used by pedestrians today. 

The bridge was constructed in the 15th century, and the river has since shrunk dramatically in size. A single arch would have been adequate to span a modest stream, but to cover a wide waterway, this design would have produced an excessively steep incline on both sides. To make the slope at Moulton more tolerable, a number of smaller arches were utilised to carry the road.

The bridge is constructed of stone rubble and flint, with plain parapets, while the arches’ edges consist of bricks. The pointed arches of this bridge were built with wooden formers to shape and support the arches. This is distinct from the medieval era and was never used after this time. 

Vehicles can cross the bridge atop the stream by using a concrete platform that has been built at the base of the piers. The bridge arches provide an unusual vantage point, allowing one to see the bridge’s underside.

Moulton Packhorse Bridge
Moulton packhorse bridge information sign by Hugh Venables, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the bridge looks quite strange because the river has decreased in size over the years and now runs under a paved path, creating the illusion of a raised archway over the asphalt. Seeing it from the side reveals how much work it took to make the four-arch spans.

Because the bridge rests on solid pavement, visitors can walk underneath the bridge’s arch spans and see the whole structure from below. 

Although you won’t find a designated parking area, parking in the villages still allows easy walking access to the bridge, and signposts will lead you there.

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