AN ICONIC ancient bridge in Dulverton will need to be rebuilt after it was partly destroyed by a torrent of river water.

More than half of the 50-metre ‘Tarr Steps’ clapper bridge on Exmoor was swept away in a barrage of floodwater from the River Barle – which stretched 10ft deeper than normal levels.

The two-tonne stones that form the Grade I listed landmark, which crosses the River Barle between Withypool and Dulverton, were swept away as fallen trees crashed into them.

The exact age of the bridge is unknown, but several theories suggest the steps date from around 1400 AD.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, County Councillor for Dulverton and Exmoor, told the Gazette: “It’s an iconic area and it’s a shame this has happened. It’s left a gaping gash.

“However, it has happened before in the fifties and maybe even again since. As a result, all the stones are numbered and when the storms have subsided the stones will be collected and the bridge will be re-built.”

Authorities such as Somerset County Council, English Heritage and Exmoor National Park will be collaborating to restore the landmark back to its former glory.

The bridge collapse follows a spate of downpours and severe flooding in the area. The Gazette reported last week how diners had to be evacuated from The Bridge Inn in Dulverton after the River Barle burst its banks.

A fallen 20ft tree became lodged under the bridge outside the pub, blocking the river flow and flooding several nearby properties, including a garage, beauty salon, farm shop and cottages.

Cllr Nicholson added: “We were fortunate there has been no loss of life. The weather has not helped trade or the people whose homes were flooded.

“It’s not just Dulverton of course – in Withypool there was at least one dwelling flooded and a landslip, and further floods in Exebridge. It was the Southern side of the Moor that caught it.”

She thanked the authorities involved in tackling the chaos, especially the retained fire service at Dulverton which was out all weekend tackling floods and fires.