The Devil’s Bridges

Happy Halloween! (Hat-tip David)

Devil’s Bridge is a term applied to dozens of ancient bridges, found primarily in Europe. Most of these bridges are stone or masonry arch bridges and represent a significant technological achievement. Each of the Devil’s Bridges has a corresponding Devil-related myth or folktale.

Local lore often wrongly attributes these bridges to the Roman era, but in fact many of them are medieval, having been built between 1000 and 1600 AD. In medieval times some Roman roads were themselves considered beyond human capabilities and needs, and therefore had to have been built by the devil.

D. L. Ashliman has a number of good Devil’s bridge folktales. The downside, it is always animals that pay the price for the bridge…

Regarding the building of this [Kilgrim] bridge is the following curious legend:

Many bridges having been built on this site by the inhabitants, none had been able to withstand the fury of the floods until his “Satanic Majesty” promised to build a bridge which would defy the fury of the elements, on condition that the first living creature who passed over should fall a sacrifice to his “Sable Majesty.”

Long did the inhabitants consider, when the bridge was complete, as to who should be the victim. A shepherd, more wise than his neighbors, owned a dog called Grim. This man having first swum the river, whistled for the dog to follow. Poor Grim unwittingly bounded across the bridge and thus fell a victim to his “Sable Majesty.”

Tradition says, from this circumstance the spot has ever since been known as Kill Grim Bridge.

One thought on “The Devil’s Bridges

  1. David Brett

    TBG,
    Trick or treat? Nicely timed post & the images are well chosen.

    At the Swiss “Teufelsbruecke” site there were at least 3 separate bridges at different periods, although only 2 appear at any one time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teufelsbr%C3%BCcke
    I love the mysterious JMW Turner painting of the 1st bridge, dated 1803-1804? What an incredible person! Being a methods guy I like paintings of bridge construction phases too. This latter painting was done at the time of construction of the 2nd bridge (1820-1830). It must have been painted on site also, as photography was only just being invented then. It has a more “brush-strokey” feel than the one you chose. This artist, a German contemporary of Turner, was another precursor of 20th century impressionists:
    http://www.friendsofart.net/static/images/art3/karl-blechen-the-building-of-the-devil%27s-bridge.jpg
    http://www.allartclassic.com/author_biography.php?p_number=801

    In the photo of the Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion, Wales at your Devil’s Bridge Wikipedia link, the 3 bridges appear to be not only co-existing but vertically superimposed! The older bridge could have been used to help build its successor, but maybe it (they) just got in the way?

    David

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