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I. Answer the following questions:

1. What are medieval bridges noted for?

2. What are the advantages of a pointed arch?

3. There were many purposes of medieval bridges. What were they?

4. What was interesting about Monnow Bridge (in Wales) construction? What was rib construction necessary for?

5. What is a basket-handled arch? What is it for?

6. While building the Rialto Bridge Antonio da Ponte faced a problem. What was it? How was it overcome?


II. Match the meanings of these terms with their definition:

1. ogive

2. to sag

3. abutment

4. crown

5. load

6. drawbridge

7. span

8. truss

9. pier

10. arch

1. Part of a structure which supports the end of a span or accepts the thrust of an arch

2. pointed arch

3. a point at the top of an arch.

4. have a downward bulge or curve in the middle

5. The horizontal space between two supports of a structure

6. what is carried or to be carried

7. hinged retractable bridge, esp. over a moat.

8. A vertical structure which supports the ends of a multi-span superstructure at a location between abutments

9. A structural form which is used in the same way as a beam, but because it is made of an web-like assembly of smaller members it can be made longer, deeper, and therefore, stronger than a beam or girder while being lighter than a beam of similar dimensions.

10. A curved structure which supports a vertical load mainly by axial compression

III. Put the words in correct forms into the text:

Monnow Bridge is the only remaining … fortified river bridge in Great Britain with its gate tower still standing on the bridge. It is … in the town of Monmouth, which stands at the … of the Wye and the Monnow rivers. The Monnow Bridge, as its name suggests, stands over the River Monnow. The bridge was built late in the 13th century, … in 1272. The gatehouse on Monnow Bridge called Monnow Gate, which gives it is remarkable and noteworthy … , was added to the bridge in the 14th century. In 1297, Edward I to provided a murage grant in favour of Monmouth to enable the people of Monmouth to build the medieval town walls and gates. The work was still … in 1315, or it was in need of repair, since the authority of 1297 was renewed on June 1, 1315.

Middle Ages

location, confluent




IV. Read the following text to find information on:

1) the shape of medieval bridges 4) subsidiary arches

2) the purpose of cutwaters 5) adjacent structures

3) the characteristics of spans

The Characteristics of Medieval Bridges

They have projecting piers, triangular in shape, known as cutwaters. These are found on the upper side with the point towards the stream their purpose being to protect the pier from the force of the current and from the impact of trees and other objects borne along by the water.

The spans varied from five feet in the case of small bridges to twenty feet or more in a few cases. The first were semicircular with a barrel vault. In the 13th century pointed arches replaced these arches and groined vaults replaced barrel vaults. Here the main weight was taken on ribs of stone.

Many medieval bridges are humped, especially where the roadway rose over pointed Gothic arches. The gradually flattening of the Gothic arch had the effect of reducing the hump and a somewhat flatter roadway appears in the 15th century.

Often a medieval bridge is extremely long and included a long stone causeway which leads up to it across a flood plain. This is pierced by subsidiary arches which do not regularly have channels of water flowing through them. They are used, however, at times of flood to allow the swollen waters to escape away, instead of ponding up behind the bridge.

Further structures connected with bridges include chapels built for bridge hermits. Gateways and drawbridges were also found.

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