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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Saxon fort site, Watchet
Civil Parish: Watchet
Part of:
PRN 34163Medieval town and port, Watchet
Grid Ref: ST 071 433 (ST 04 SE)
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Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked. Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]


By the time of Alfred (871-90) Watchet was a port and a later mint from the time of Aethelstan to Stephen. Likely that there was a small town and there certainly was a fort of some description. Mentioned in the Burghal Hidage when it was a fortified centre but the defences were probably ineffective - it was raided by the Scandinavians in AD918, 977, 988 and 997. If under the modern town likely that Swain Street formed the axis of the defended area with the stream on the W, the sea on the N and marsh on the E Only the S would require defences. The Burghal Hidage indicates a defence length of about 2090ft (650m) which corresponds well with the rectangular area centred on Swain Street {1}

Long been debated about location of the defences as the site and character of the burh are uncertain. Biddle calls it a new burghal town (as distinct from a fort) "on a promontory site" (which suggests Daws Castle PRN 34164) or the St Decuman's area (ST168428), and Grinsell suggests that it was either beneath the present town or at Daws Castle, or at another earthwork near it. {2}

More recently seen that Daws Castle (PRN 34164) was the burh. {5}


1 Description - Aston, M and Leech, R. Historic Towns in Somerset.  (1977), 140-141.
2 Mention - Biddle, M. Towns. In Wilson, DM. The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England.  (1976) at 99-150.
3 Mention - Grinsell, LV. The Archaeology of Exmoor.  (1970), 117-18.
4 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 04 SE 28 (1979) Location: HER files.
5 Verbal communication - Dennison, E [Ed]. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (21/02/1994). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained

Record created in May 1984

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