Storm damage leaves ancient bridge needing yet more repairs
One of Britain's oldest bridges has been washed away by floods just months after it was rebuilt at a cost £10,000.
The ancient, 180ft Tarr Steps clapper bridge, on the River Barle in Exmoor, Somerset, was destroyed by a 10ft wall of flood water in December 2012.
Luckily each two-tonne step had been marked in case the Grade I-listed structure was ever damaged so that engineers could piece them back together, which they did successfully in February.
However, the bridge is again in need of repair after a large section was washed away by flash floods over the weekend.
The Tarr Steps is one of Britain's best preserved examples of a clapper bridge, derived from the Latin "claperius", meaning "pile of stones".
Some locals believe it dates back to around 1,000 BC, although experts have said it was more likely to date from the Middle Ages. According to legend the bridge was built by the devil who sunbathed on the stones and would kill anyone who tried to cross.
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said the damage to the bridge was not as serious as in December last year.
He said: "The recent storms caused considerable damage across the county, including to part of the bridge at Tarr Steps. The Steps are a scheduled ancient monument and were extensively damaged last year, however Somerset County Council in conjunction with Exmoor National Park and English Heritage carried out repairs.
"The Steps have historically been at risk in severe weather and last week's storm was one of the worst in decades. The damage this time was restricted to a small area of the bridge itself, leaving most of the structure untouched.
"This is due in part to the boom device placed upstream which appears to have slowed the flow of debris crashing into the bridge and limited the damage. We're now assessing the site and will look to retrieve the missing parts and repair the bridge as soon as possible, subject to weather conditions and securing the various consents necessary due to the structure's historic importance."