Single-arch stone bridge
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Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Brig o’ Doon, sometimes called the Auld Brig or Old Bridge of Doon, is a late medieval bridge in Ayrshire, Scotland, and a Category A structure.[1] Brig is a Scots word for “bridge”, hence the Brig o’ Doon is the “Bridge over the River Doon”.[2]

The Brig o’ Doon’s single arch crosses the River Doon near Alloway, once a village but now a suburb of the town of Ayr. It has a dressed-stone arch ring and rubble spandrelsThe roughly triangular space above and on either side of an arch.. The structure has been repaired many times, and as a result much of the stonework does not match. The deck of the bridge is paved with cobbles.[3]

Writing in 1840, James Paterson suggested that the bridge was built by James Kennedy, Chancellor of Scotland, who died in 1466,[4] but it is not mentioned in any records before 1512.[5] Described as “ruinous” in 1593,[3] the bridge is best known as the setting for the penultimate verse of Robert Burns’s poem Tam o’ Shanter, as Tam is being chased by the witches he has disturbed on his way home from the tavern:

Now, do thy speedy-utmost, Meg,
And win the key-stone o' the brig;
There, at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross.

The B7024 public road is carried over the River Doon by the New Bridge of Doon, a single-arch stone bridge built downstream of the old one in 1816 to cope with increasing traffic.[3][6] The old bridge was sold to the builders of the new one as a quarry for material, but money was raised to re-purchase it, and the trustees of the new bridge decided to quarry elsewhere.[4]

The Brig o’ Doon is used as a footbridge only today, and is part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.[7]

Citations



Bibliography


Historic Environment Scotland. (n.d.). ALLOWAY (OFF), BRIG O’DOON. http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB21474
Historic Environment Scotland. (n.d.). Ayr, Alloway, New Bridge Of Doon. https://canmore.org.uk/site/201805/ayr-alloway-new-bridge-of-doon
Paterson, J. (1840). The contemporaries of Burns: and the more recent poets of Ayrshire. H. Paton.
ScotlandsPlaces. (n.d.). Ayr, Alloway, Brig O’ Doon. https://scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/record/hes/41593/ayr-alloway-brig-o-doon/rcahms
Scots Words and Place-names. (n.d.). Place-Name Glossary. https://swap.nesc.gla.ac.uk/database/?search=&page=1&order=6&d=2
Undiscovered Scotland. (n.d.). Brig O’ Doon. https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/alloway/brigodoon/
Undiscovered Scotland. (n.d.). Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/alloway/birthplacemuseum/index.html