This suspension footbridge crosses the River Tweed and gives access to the village of Gattonside on the north of the river, where in 1545 the Earl of Hertford may have set up his cannon to bombard the Abbey. The bridge was opened formally on 26th October 1826. There was also a ford river crossing just down stream for horse drawn vehicles. The paving of the ford was broken only in the 20th century when sewage pipes were laid to Gattonside.
Several conditions were placed upon the use of the bridge, including the constraint that no more than eight people should be on the bridge at one time. It was also a statutory offence to make the bridge swing. Notices are still displayed at either end notifying those crossing of the various restrictions. The bridge underwent major repairs in 1991 when the chains and footway were removed and repaired and the 'swing' was cancelled out.
The house at the end of the bridge was at one time the toll house and was built at the same time as the bridge. Before the wooden porch was built, the door faced directly along the bridge and the toll man could see if anyone was crossing or how many people were on the bridge. Since payment had to be made to cross the bridge, the ford continued to be used for many years. There was a box of stilts at each end of the ford for people to use when crossing the river and even as late as 1929 the refuse cart made frequent ford crossings to and from Gattonside. Should you have time, it is well worth taking a walk into the village and looking back to Melrose. The view that the Earl of Hertford would have seen whilst directing the English bombardment of the Abbey would not have been too dissimilar.
"The Battery" is a set of earthen banks alongside the river, set slightly back from the water's edge. The monks built these to keep flood waters away from the Annay, the fields between the Abbey and the Tweed, where they grew a fair proportion of their food. Return along the path until you reach the cauld, then turn left towards the town centre.
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