Brig o' Balgownie

Brig O' Balgownie
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Brig O' Balgownie

Crossing a gorge on the River Don in Old Aberdeen, the Auld Brig o' Balgownie is one of the oldest bridges in Britain, begun c.1275 most likely on the instructions of Bishop Henry Cheyne (c.1255 - 1328) and built over a period of thirty years. It was designed by Richard Cementarius, a notable local mason who became Provost of Aberdeen in 1272. However, Cementarius died long before its completion, which may have been ordered by Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329), who had taken control of Aberdeen in 1308.

The bridge has a single Gothic arch of 21.2m (70 feet) span and stands 10.5m (34 feet) above a deep salmon pool which was mentioned by Byron in Don Juan. In 1605 Sir Alexander Hay left lands with a yearly income to keep the Auld Brig in good repair and it was extensively renovated at that time. It was from this fund that the new Bridge of Don was built in 1825. The bridge has been strengthened and further repairs carried out regularly over the years.

The Brig o' Balgownie is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is A-listed. In 1981, a plaque was placed on the bridge recording its importance. It is no longer open to vehicular traffic but remains in use by pedestrians and cyclists.

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