University of Cambridge legends

University Of Cambridge Legends

University of Cambridge legends

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There are a number of popular legends associated with Cambridge University and its history, often recounted by punt guides to tourists whilst cruising the River Cam. Some are true, some contain elements of truth and others are somewhat more fabricated.

The Mathematical Bridge

One famous narrative relates to Queens' College's so-called Mathematical Bridge (pictured right). The story usually goes as follows: constructed by Sir Isaac Newton, it held itself together without any bolts or screws. Years later, inquisitive students took it apart in order to see how it fitted together and the deconstructers were unable to reassemble it without bolts. (A variation on this tale has the bridge being dismantled by the college's Fellows due to the onset of World War II). However the bridge was erected 22 years after Newton's death and always used pins and screws at the joints (although the current version of the bridge does use more visible nuts and bolts).

Clare College bridge

Other tales involve the Clare Bridge of Clare College, built 1639-40 which is adorned with spherical stone ornaments. One of these has a quarter sphere wedge removed from the back, a feature pointed out on almost all tours over the bridge. Three tales explaining this are:

  1. The bridge's builder was not paid in full......
  2. ...

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