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Devil's Bridge: Wikis

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Devil’s Bridge is a term applied to two or three dozen ancient bridges said in local folklore to have been constructed either by the Devil, with the help of the Devil, or in some cases against the wishes of the Devil. Found primarily in Europe, most of these bridges are stone or masonry arch bridges and represent a significant technological achievement.

Local lore also 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.

Contents

Construction legends

The bridges that fall into the Devil’s Bridge category are so numerous that the legends about them form a special category in the Aarne-Thompson classification system for folktales (Number 1191). Some of the legends have elements of related folktale categories, for example Deceiving the Devil (AT #1196), The Devil's Contract (AT #756B), and The Master Builder legends.

One version of the tale presents the bridge builder and the Devil as adversaries. This reflects the fact that frequently, such as in the case of the Teufelsbrücke[1] at the St. Gotthard Pass, these bridges were built under such challenging conditions that successful completion of the bridge required a heroic effort on the part of the builders and the community, ensuring its legendary status.

Other versions of the legend feature an old lady or a simple herder who makes a pact with the Devil. In this version the devil agrees to build the bridge, and in return he will receive the first soul to cross it. After building the bridge (often overnight) the devil is outwitted by his adversary and is last seen descending into the water, bringing peace to the community.

Each of the bridges that have received the Devil's Bridge appellation is remarkable in some regard; most often for the technological hurdles surpassed in building the bridge, but on occasion also for its aesthetic grace, or for its economic or strategic importance to the community it serves.

Partial list of Devil's Bridges

The three bridges of Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion, Wales.
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France

Italy

United Kingdom

Other countries

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ See the article Die Teufelsbrücke (German) on the German language Wikipedia.

External links


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