The Bridges of Medieval England Transport and Society 400-1800 (Oxford Historical Monographs)

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9780199226856: The Bridges of Medieval England Transport and Society 400-1800 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
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Medieval bridges are startling achievements of design and engineering comparable with the great cathedrals of the period, and are also proof of the great importance of road transport in the middle ages and of the size and sophistication of the medieval economy. David Harrison rewrites their history from early Anglo-Saxon England right up to the Industrial Revolution, providing new insights into many aspects of the subject. Looking at the role of bridges in the creation of a new road system, which was significantly different from its Roman predecessor and which largely survived until the twentieth century, he examines their design. Often built in the most difficult circumstances: broad flood plains, deep tidal waters, and steep upland valleys, they withstood all but the most catastrophic floods. He also investigates the immense efforts put into their construction and upkeep, ranging from the mobilization of large work forces by the old English state to the role of resident hermits and the charitable donations which produced bridge trusts with huge incomes. The evidence presented in The Bridges of Medieval England shows that the network of bridges, which had been in place since the thirteenth century, was capable of serving the needs of the economy on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. This has profound implications for our understanding of pre-industrial society, challenging accepted accounts of the development of medieval trade and communications, and bringing to the fore the continuities from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the eighteenth century. This book is essential reading for those interested in architecture, engineering, transport, and economics, and any historian sceptical about the achievements of medieval England.

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Review:

This original, carefully researched and well-presented book makes a remarkable contribution to our understanding of the medieval world. (Christopher Dyer, Landscape History)

'an impressive and beautifully written book with a remarkable chronological range... (N.P. Brooks, English Historical Review)

Remarkably the history and archaeology of medieval bridges is a completely neglected subject... This excellent volume now plugs the gap. (Tim Tatton-Brown, Medieval Archaeology)

This important book of how the network of bridges developed, their design, construction.., and the social and economic questions they raise... (Derek Renn, The Antiquaries Journal)

a very useful book on a very important topic.... A particularly attractive feature of the book is that he lays out its main thesis so clearly. (John Langdon, Agricultural History Review)

This book will undoubtedly form the mainstay of all future studies on the subject (TLS)

To the outsider a study of medieval bridges is likely to smell of academic specialization. Yet David Harrison's book calmly avoids obscurity (TLS)

...a veritable treasure trove of information and conclusions...an essential source of reference for anyone interested in pre-modern transport.

An important thorough study of bridges from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Industrial Revolution. (Northern History)

...provides excellent scholarly surveys... (John Hare, Southern History Society, Vol. 28)

About the Author:

David Harrison is a Clerk to the House of Commons.

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9780199272747: The Bridges of Medieval England Transport and Society 400-1800 (Oxford Historical Monographs)

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ISBN 10:  0199272743 ISBN 13:  9780199272747
Publisher: Clarendon Press, 2004
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