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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Evaluation (1992) and excavation (1996), Hanging Chapel, Langport
Civil Parish: Langport
Part of:
PRN 54141Medieval town, Langport
Grid Ref: ST 4233 2675 (ST 42 NW)
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Public access:

It is unlikely that there is anything to see unless this event took place on a site (see link above) where there may be details of access. Otherwise please assume that the site is on private land. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]


Excavation for a new footpath to the N of the Hanging Chapel (PRN 54834) revealed evidence for the saxon bank around Langport (PRN 54134). The bank had been built on the crest of a natural scarp which appeared to have been steepened to provide material, there was no sign of a ditch. It survived only as a very denuded layer of clay above a buried soil. The bank had been cut away to receive the gateway in the late medieval period. Later activity was confined to the early C19 before the construction of the Fire Engine House in about 1850. {3}

The Hanging Chapel is located on the eastern edge of the medieval town, astride the road to Huish Episcopi. The excavations took place along the line of a proposed footpath around the north side of the late medieval arched gateway upon which the Hanging Chapel stands. The trench revealed the presence of a natural scarp sloping down to the east on the crest of which the base of a denuded clay bank was found, probably the late 9th- or early 10th-century defensive bank around the east side of the town. East of the bank there was no clear evidence of a ditch; rather the natural scarp seemed to have been cut back and steepened, thus providing clay for the bank. The medieval gateway had been built across the line of the extant bank, which had been dug away for this purpose. At least two periods of repair and underpinning of the gateway wall were apparent. A quarry pit dug into the east slope of the scarp, and a cess pit dug into the bank dated to the early 19th century. The cess pit was sealed beneath the floor of the Fire-engine house which was built against the north side of the gateway structure towards the middle of the 19th century, removing yet more of the earlier, defensive bank.

A report has been deposited with the SMR and the site archive and artefacts at Taunton Castle Museum, accession No. TTNCM 118/1996. {6}


1 Excavation report - Webster, CJ. An Archaeological Evaluation of the Bank Adjacent to the Hanging Chapel, Langport, Somerset.  Unpublished Somerset County Council report (1992) Location: HER files.
2 Archive - Report with notes and slides relating to an excavation at Langport Hanging Chapel.  (1992) Available at Archives and Records at Somerset Heritage Centre. Reference: A\ATV/9
3 Excavation report - Graham, A. Archaeological Excavations on the site of the Engine House to the North of the Hanging Chapel, Langport, Somerset.  Unpublished Alan Graham report (1996) Location: HER files.
4 Museum accession number - TTNCM 118/1996. Stored at Museum collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
5 Archive - Site records, photographs, negatives and report.  Available at Archives and Records at Somerset Heritage Centre. Reference: A\AWI/9
6 Description - Graham, A. Langport, Hanging Chapel. In Webster, CJ and Croft, RA. Somerset Archaeology 1996. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  140 (1996), 133-159 at 152.

Record created in December 1996

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