Beckford Packhorse Bridge

History is written in the soil.

Hands, hearts and lives devoted to toil.

A tale of labours sold far and wide

Like fossils, the detritus of history

lie abandoned, neglected and lost.

Skeletal buildings, ghostly stone relics

that whisper from the undergrowth.


The packhorse bridge, centuries old

lies in close communion

with its modern brethren, built to take

modern tractors and their loads.

The dainty stone bridge stands, still waiting

to take the sheep to market

beside the whispering trees.


Yarty Valley, once rich in flax, wool, and butter

would see the crop on its journey

to Axminister market, then yarn mills

making rope and twine to sail the sea.

Men of war sailing the seas.

Fishing barques, keeping within the horizon.

Sails and ropes whispering to the rolling clouds.


London-bound across the packhorse bridge

not the common household cheese,

but Membury cheese, rich and prized.

Butter from the churn, rich and salty

watered down, refined for genteel city tastes.

Packhorses skirting Stonehenge,

its stones lisping across the plain.


A steeply rising spine of cobbles

keeping the cargo fee of the Yarty’s

cold, flinty water, sparkling in summer,

moodily silty in winter,

leaving shingle banks, and later,

ox bow lakes shaped like fish,

beached and gasping a whispered death.


The packhorse bridge narrows the way,

constraining the land as if a corset

before ballooning once again

across the map.

It sleeps now, its job is done.

Its time of work, now done

leaving it to breathe the gentle Devon air.


12 April 2021. 4:53 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.

Isolated wintry showers. Mainly dry. 0% moon..

For Architecture evening ECPG.

©TMPearce 2021