An old bridge, especially in England and Europe, said to have been built by the Devil or his Demons.
According to ancient lore, Demons were master architects and builders. King Solomon commanded legions of them to build his temples (see Djinn). Medieval folklore held that whenever engineers and architects needed help or ran out of resources, the Devil and his Demons would appear—or could be summoned—to lend a helping hand. The infernal beings were called upon most often for help with bridges but also were said to assist with construction of castles.
Devil’s bridges are found in Britain, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and France. There is a Devil’s Bridge in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, near the birthplace of Paracelsus. In France, the Pont de Valentre bridge at Cahors was believed to be entirely constructed by the Devil.
The Devil’s price for this service was the soul of the first creature who crossed the bridge. Folktales tells of local townsfolk tricking the Devil by sending a cat or dog across first. In the legend of the Devil’s Bridge across the Afon Mynach near Aberystwyth, Wales, an old woman spotted her cow on the opposite side of a chasm, unreachable. The Devil appeared in disguise and offered to create a bridge if she would give him the first living thing that crossed over it. She agreed, though she knew she was dealing with the Devil, because she had noticed his cloven hooves. When the bridge was completed, she threw a crust of bread across it and sent her dog to fetch it, sacrificing him to the Devil.
In Somerset, England, the Tarr Steps is a prehistoric stone bridge dating to about 1000 B.C.E. that crosses the river Barle near Winsford. Some of the stones weigh five tons. According to lore, the bridge was built by the Devil in one night to win a wager against a giant who had challenged his power.
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