3,000-year-old bridge known as the Devil"s sunbathing spot is washed away as 2012 comes to a very wet close
Wiped out by a raging river: 3,000-year-old bridge known as the Devil's sunbathing spot is washed away as 2012 comes to a very wet close..
Bridge swept away by raging river, after trees carried in flood snap cablesAncient construction in Exmoor, Somerset, could date back to 1000 B.C. It has 17 giant slabs – largest being 8ft long and 5ft wide – spanning 180ft..A stone bridge reputed to be 3,000 years old was swept away as flooding continued to bring chaos to parts of Britain yesterday.
Downpours over the Christmas break and through New Year’s Eve are likely to ensure 2012 was one of the wettest years on record.
As celebrations began, more than an inch and a quarter of rain was dumped on to already saturated ground and more than 200 flood alerts and 90 flood warnings were in place.
Local resident Martin Hesp said: ‘I have lived in the area for over 50 years and I have never seen anything like this before.
‘It must have been some mighty trees which were carried downstream and smashed through them.’
The bridge links the Somerset villages of Withypool and Dulverton.
It was last damaged in floods in 1952 when the stone slabs were washed up to 50ft downstream and had to be recovered by the Army. Since then the slabs have been numbered to aid reassembly.
Millions are facing a difficult return to work tomorrow after the Christmas break, with numerous roads left potholed and damaged by the weather. The only good news is that forecasters believe the first month of the new year will be considerably drier – if colder – than November and December.
The South West had been braced for the worst of the flooding, but there were similar fears elsewhere too. Mobile flood barriers were set up in cities and towns including Oxford, Worcester, Shrewsbury and Bewdley.
THE ANCIENT STEPS WHICH 'WERE BUILT BY THE DEVIL'
Legend has it that the devil built the bridge at Tarr Steps and had rights over sunbathing on the stones.
Anyone who tried to cross the bridge, it was said, did so at the risk that they would be killed by the devil, who swore an oath to crush anyone who passed from one side to the other.
It is claimed that locals once sent a cat across the bridge to test the myth – and the animal was vaporised. Only after confrontation with the local parson is the devil supposed to have withdrawn the threat.
The first recorded mention of the Tarr Steps was in the 14th century – but some experts believe the bridge could date back to 1000 BC.
It is constructed of stone slabs supported on stone piers, which stick three feet out of the water when the river is at its normal level.
The name ‘Tarr’ is thought to have derived from the Celtic word ‘tochar’ for causeway.