|Location Map ( geo)|
|A39 • A361|
|Crossings related to the A39|
Ok, so maybe this is myth rather than history, but it is claimed that it was from this bridge that King Arthur threw Excalibur into the Lake. Looking at the landscape today, it is rather an odd proposition, but 1500 years ago much of the Somerset Levels were flooded, marshy land, with several lakes draining into the Brue in the Glastonbury ('Avalon') area. One of these was believed to have lain across the course of the Brue just to the west of Pomparles Bridge.
Enough of the myth. We are back on firmer ground with Phelps, who actually drew the bridge that stood in the years before 1826. This had two arches, a small semi-circular one and a wider pointed one, with what looks like a weir in the foreground.
The bridge was subsequently rebuilt in 1826, however it suffered badly from settlement, so the present structure was erected in 1912. Whilst digging the foundations, remains of a previous structure were found, which appeared to match those of the round arch shown in the sketch, albeit on the opposite bank. They were dated to the 12th Century, which suggests that there had originally been two round arches. Presuambly one collapsed, and was replaced with a more fashionable pointed arch in the 15th century. All of this medieval work is believed to have been undertaken by Glastonbury Abbey, including the construction of the causeway across the surrounding levels. There is some suggestion that the causeway was built on the site of a Roman Road which connected to Ilchester, but firm evidence is not forthcoming!
The current bridge, like its predecessor, is a single span stone arch across the river, when viewed from the east bank. However, it has been widened since 1912, on the western side, by the addition of a concrete deck, abutted to the old arch. The new concrete section appears similar to the bridges downstream at Cold Harbour Bridge and Westhay Bridge, all of which probably date from the 1970s. This means that the bridge now carries 2.5 lanes of traffic and two footways. The central half lane is the start of the turning lane for the junction immediately to the north of the bridge, a junction which would have formed part of Glastonburys southern relief road if it had ever been built!