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Somerset Historic Environment Record

44199

Site Name: Burrow Mump, Burrowbridge
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Burrow Mump: a motte castle, later chapel and associated earthworks [No:24012]
Civil Parish: Burrowbridge
Grid Ref: ST 3590 3052 (ST 33 SE)
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Image: Image of HER 44199 - Photo by Somerset County Council (24 July 1979)
  HER 44199 - Photo by Somerset County Council (24 July 1979)

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is on National Trust land open to the public. [Information last updated on 16 December 2002]

Details:

Burrow Mump is a natural hill rising 24m above the surrounding levels. It has a flat top (surmounted by ruined church of St Michael) below which the sides are steeply scarped for about 7m, ending in a narrow berm below which the slopes are natural. A terrace, probably a trackway rises around the Southern part of the hill, ending short of the summit. Traditional associations with King Alfred are unsubstantiated, and are more likely to refer to the burhs at Lyng and Athelney. It was owned by Athelney Abbey from AD 937 (see PRN 11066). {1}

Excavations in 1930 produced some residual Roman material and three medieval pits. Complex remains of medieval chapel with N and S chapels and crypt with inhumation at W end of N wall of nave. A length of walling at the W end of nave and on a different alignment was interpreted as remains of Norman Castle predating the chapel. {3}

A list of subscribers and expenses for the the reconstruction in 1793 has been located. {4}

It appears possible from Gray's text and plate VI that this masonry is later than chapel. {5}

The idea of Burrow Mump as being a castle is now discredited. Was in Sedgemoor District (PRN 11114). {6}

A probable Norman motte scarped from a natural conical hill at the junction of two rivers on the levels. A terraced track spirals up to it, stopping short of the berm, and the ascent would probably have been completed by steps. An unfinished church stands on the summit. On the lower slopes are lynchets of small enclosures along the road, perhaps representing medieval squatter settlement plots. A hollow path leads up to the church from the village. Earliest reference in 934 when the hill was given to Athelney Abbey under the name of Toteyate. In 1480 it was known as 'Myghell-borough'. The 'Free Chapel of St. Michael' is first referred to directly in 1548, and was extant in 1633, but in 1645 was the scene of a three-day stand by Royalist troops. The next reference in 1663 is for its repair and rebuilding, which was apparently begun c.1724 but never finished, and by 1793 a new church was subscribed for with contributors including Pitt the Younger and Admiral Hood. The building again was never completed, and the present church built at the foot of the hill The inhumation in the chapel crypt was associated with a lead bullet, perhaps from the Civil War skirmish. A sunken passageway and a deep square pit which may have been a medieval well were also partly excavated The hill was given to the National Trust as a war memorial in 1946. {8}

Scheduling revised with new national number on 3.9.1994 (was Somerset 203) {9}

Erosion on the S and E site of the summit is becoming severe and has been reported to the National Trust. {10}

The mound and earthworks generally have good grass cover with no animal poaching, although some rabbit activity on S side. Small area of slippage on N side. Main problem is visitors path on E side creating erosion and one very exposed area. The top of the mound is stable, some erosion around chapel which is stable but some graffiti. {11}

Reassessment of the documentary evidence suggests that these provide no support for the castle theory as references to it can either be relocated or do not necessarily refer to a castle. {12}

Medieval or post-medieval lynchets on the lower slopes of the hill. One platform can be observed on the northern side of Burrow Mump, centred on ST 3588 3058, measuring 122m in length and up to 5m in width. Another platform is visible on the southern side, centred on ST 3596 3049, measuring 153m in length and up to 3.5m in width. The spiral track described above is defined by a bank leading up from ST 3582 3050 on the western side and around the flat top of the hill. The bank could only be observed intermittently due to tree cover on the aerial photographs. {13}

References:

1 Detailed records - Thackray, D. Archaeology in the National Trust: Burrow Mump, Somerset.  (1977) unpublished leaflet. Location: HER files. HER digital source: 15614.
2 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 33 SE 10 (1964) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 1020.
3 Excavation report - Gray, H St G. Excavations at Burrow Mump 1939. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History.  85 (1939), 95-133
4 Mention - Gray, H St G. Addendum to 'Excavations at Burrow Mump, 1939'. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  87 (1941), 108-10. Copy available in Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
5 Verbal communication - Burrow, I [Ian]. Somerset County Council (16/08/1983). Location: verbal or direct entry to database, no other records.
6 Verbal communication - Dennison, E [Ed]. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (05/11/1986). Location: verbal or direct entry to database, no other records.
7 Aerial photographs - DAP PV10, WA27,29. (1994) Location: HER digital information, prints in archive at Somerset Heritage Centre.
8 Detailed records - Preece, A. Burrow Mump: a motte castle, later chapel and associated earthworks.  (1993) Monuments Protection Programme fieldwork report for English Heritage. Location: Verbal or electronic source not retained.
9 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (26/9/1994) Location: HER files
10 Site visit report - Webster, CJ [Chris]. Somerset County Council (18/4/1996) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 16595.
11 Site visit report - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden. (23/2/1999) Report location: HER files
12 Detailed records - Dunning, R. Burrow Mump: a revision. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History.  138 (1994), 111-116
13 Verbal communication - Truscoe, K [Krysia]. Somerset County Council Heritage Service (22/01/2006). Location: verbal or direct entry to database, no other records.
14 Aerial photographs - USAF 7PH/GP/LOC252 3030. (02/04/1944) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
15 Aerial photographs - RAF CPE/UK/1944 2404-5. (23/1/1947) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
16 Aerial photographs - RAF 58/3904 (F63) 0104-5. (02/11/1960) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
17 Aerial photographs - RAF 58/3904 (F44) 0127-8. (02/11/1960) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
18 Aerial photographs - RAF 58/3905 (F43) 0152-3. (02/11/1960) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
19 Aerial photographs - NMR OS/70117 0087-8. (18/05/1970) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
20 Aerial photographs - ST 3530/1/368-71. (02/08/1976) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
21 Aerial photographs - NMR ST 3530/3 (DAP 6840/10) 2. (7-FEB-1990) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
22 Aerial photographs - ST 3530/6 (23760/12). (05/11/2004) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon
23 Aerial photographs - ST 3530/11-15 (23761/01-05). (05/11/2004) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon

Record created in August 1983

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