Medieval bridges leading into towns also served as fortifications. The location of many of these bridges can be known by tracing the funds required to build and maintain them, which were generally put up by boroughs (via taxes), wealthy lords or the church. It was not uncommon to find a chapel built on a bridge or on the bank at either end; before Georgian times in England, one could see shops crowded along bridges, especially in larger cities, such as York, Bristol, and London.
The history of bridge building in the world has always been characterized by the quest for better design and strength. The oldest surviving bridge, on the road between Epidavros and Nafplio in Greece, has stood for well over three thousand years. It is, of course, built of stone, a material that, along with iron and steel, has ensured the longevity of many bridges since. Roads in Britain still follow much of the map established by the Roman Empire, but their bridges were mainly constructed of timber and have long since disappeared, as ephemeral as the rivers that flowed beneath them.
Any old bridge will generally tell a story about our past.
Photo credit: Joan Carroll
By 1896, over 250 members of the religious community had been buried in the crypt of the Motherhouse, and it was full. The bodies of nuns who died in the winter were kept inside the windmill until the ground thawed. Finally, a small plot of land was consecrated to be a cemetery. It is in an idyllic rose garden on the hillside that dominates the island. Even at that, limited space required that the graves contain at least two bodies, attested to by the names on the white marble tombstones.
Some mystery is associated with this same hill on the west side of the island. It is oval-shaped and has a steep slope, rising about 100 feet above the water level of the lake. Historians once suggested that the hill might be more than the work of a former ice age. That humans could have contributed to its formation is supported by its ressemblence to similar, albeit more diminutive, mounds which have served as burial grounds. The idea that the hillock could have been the work of a lost people was borne out during an excavation in 1854 that recovered 18 skulls within approximately 18 square feet, along with many other bones and weapons.
Photo credit: Gilles Douaire QUÉBEC, CANADA
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