The West Rasen Packhorse Bridge over the River Rase, is thought to have been built in 1310 by Bishop John Dalderby (Bishop of Lincoln 1300 to 1320), and is sometimes known as Bishops Bridge.
Packhorses were the main mode of transport for carrying goods overland throughout the Middle Ages. Trade routes were developed between market towns and to coastal ports such as Boston. Wheeled carts were so rare that rural bridges were not constructed wide enough to carry them. Few packhorse bridges remain today, and the West Rasen bridge is one of the finest.
The adjacent road bridge is constructed on the site of a brick arched bridge which was built in 1856. Prior to that time, the Market Rasen to Gainsborough road forded the river to the east side of the Packhorse Bridge. In times of flood heavier carts had to wait for the water to subside. Lighter two wheeled traps are said to have removed one wheel so that they could be manhandled over the Packhorse Bridge.
There are two other 14th century packhorse bridges in Lincolnshire. One at Utterby near Louth and at Screddington near Sleaford.
Information taken from the plaque erected by Lincolnshire County Council.
Image credit: Neil Freestone.