UMNONIA,therefore,as a geographical term, seems to lie in the background of our national, and especially West-Country, annals, as a somewhat dim and uncertain region, regarded as a half fabulous realm, not to be defined by modern counties or by modern Bishoprics, although the name has survived in Devon. It has long since dropped out of use and finds little mention in our text-books. William of Malmesbury could say “ In Dumnonia quae Devenscire dicitur 55 and render himself intelligible to men of his own age (1143) ; and, further back still in our history, Asser, the biographer of King Alfred, could quote “ Dumnonia" , as already noted, probably meaning Devon and part of Somerset reaching up to the Parret mouth and, perhaps, further east still, towards Bristol (a .d . 875-900).
That there was a Church if not a distinct Diocese in Dumnonia, we may infer from a letterwritten by Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne in a d 704 who gave a kind of pastoral charge to Gerontius, King of Dumnoiiia, and to all priests (sacerdotes) living inDumnonia. The view of Aldhelm, who was partially Romanized, was that Dumnonia was rather uncivilized (dira), a view we need not endorse, as he probably meant that the Celtic Church was not sufficiently imbued with Roman and papal influences. The old Roman geographers used the name of Dumnonia mid had a definition for it, Claudius Ptolemaeus ad 150 placing the Dumnonii next to the Durotriges or Dorsaetas , i.e. men of Dorset, on the east, and extending this region to" Volida" ie Fowey or Falmouth in Cornwall .
of Somerset Dumnonia included Uxella on the Axe and Uphill above Brean . This certainly would include 4'Anchor Head ” on the present site of Weston-super-Mare with the old fort of Worlesborough above it.
It is worth noticing that a later
Roman geographer,Caius Julius Solinus,a .d . 238 extended
the Dumnonii much further up the Severn and placed them
opposite to the Silures.
Dr. Guest in his “ Origines Celticae,” 2 conjectures that the bounds of Dumnonia stretched from Malmesbury to the
Land’s End and that the kings of Dumnonia had added to this realm by conquest and that, in the days of Gereint,
Dumnonia must have been in power and dignity the first of
the British Kingdoms.
He writes : " It is not my object to
trace the several stages of decay through which the power of Dumnonia passed as it melted away before the ascendancy of England.
The more intimate relations of this British Kingdom were no doubt with the kindred races of Wales and Brittany, but the influences it exercised over the national progress and even over the literature of its English neighbours were by no means of slight account, though they have been strangely overlooked. They afford, I think, the only solution of some of the most intricate problems connected with our early history, and materials for such inquiry may be scanty, but they are not altogether wanting.” The three chief “ perpetual choirs ” of the Isle of Britain were : That of Llan Iltud Vawr in Glamorgan ; That of Ambrosius in Ambresbury, near Salisbury ; That of Glaston. In each of these choirs there were 2,400, that isthere were one hundred for every hour of the day and night
in rotation perpetuating the praise of God without rest or intermission. What may be termed the spiritual life of an enlarged Dumnonia was centred around these places about a .d . 500. This implied a kind of national unity from Salisbury to the Land’s End. When, later on, the Bishopric of Sherborne was formed and Aldhelm ruled over “ Selwood1. See “ George of Ravenna,” p. 424. Urbs ab Uxellae ostio longe separata. Fluvius est Axe— Uxella forte est Axbridge : also “ History of the Ancient Britons,” by J. A. Giles, D.C.L., vol. ii, p. 102.
2. Vol. ii, pp. 270-2.
Dumnonia and Glaston 2 9
shire/’ this inland continuity from Wiltshire westward was
slightly impaired about a .d . 700. But Dumnonia unity was
preserved along the north coasts and littoral of the Severn
Sea, being in its very nature maritime and its inhabitants seafaring. Glaston and Llan Iltud Vawr preserved their Celtic
traditions. It was a matter of navigation and of a sea-andriver-intercourse, easier in its way than travel through inland
forests and less perilous.
That road or highway, possibly of Roman origin, linking
Dumnonia and its northern parts together, leading from
Bristol (and Bath) westward to Uxella or Axbridge, Brent and
so to Cynwith or Comwith passage on the Parret was first
constructed with a strategic and maritime purpose. It was
the trunk road of ancient Dumnonia for all purposes. It
helped the pilgrim also on his way to Glaston and was connected with all land routes and especially with the sea routes
across Severn. Glaston also had its river anchorages, its
canals and moorland boats (batelli) and river craft. The tidal
wave swept humble currough or larger barge and vessel up to its
If we adopt Sir Charles Elton’s definitions of ancient Siluria1
and infer that it meant a block of Wales including Glamorgan
and Hereford, as well as Monmouth, it will be seen that the
Dumnonii must have been found some distance up the Severn.
Hath and Bristol (Bristowa, the town of the British) ; both
with churches dedicated to St. Michael, would have been
occupied by them. Gildas, our oldest historian, who knew
the Severn well, mentions a certain “ King of Dumnonia ”
Constantine by name (Dumnoniae tyrannus), as apart from
Vortipore, King of Demetia which we assume to mean geographically, South Wales and not simply Pembroke. The
name of Constantine, it may be noted, introduces early
Christian association (300-400). To-day there is a Cornish
parish near Falmouth called Constantine where it is said
a lthough the rumour cannot be substantiated) silver coins
of Arthur were found near the church.2 Constantine, also,
1 Elton’s “ Origins of English History,” p. 141.
2 Lewis’ “ Topographical Dictionary,” vol. i, p. 509.
The domain of East and West Camel which, for centuries, figures as part and parcel of the “ Eorinsecus ” or outer Hundred of Somerton, the erstwhile capital of the
“ Sea moor settlers.” At Domesday, Queen’s Camel, as East Camel appears to have been named , was in the hands of Queen Gytha, Harold’s wife, like Puriton (Peritona), the port on the Parret,leading to the Poldens and Glaston.
Modern people have inhabited the Somerset region of southwest England since the Devensian. During this time and the succeeding Mesolithic they lived in and or made use of places like the caves of the Mendip hills, at Gough's , Cave and Aveline's Hole , In the following Neolithic a shift was made to farming and permanent settlements emerged.
It is known that to the south of the Mendips substantial activity occurred on the Somerset Levels, via the Sweet Track for example < The Sweet Track was a timber walkway > created circa 3800BC to enable people to cross the marshes of the Brue Valley near Glastonbury.
Shortly after this period chambered tombs appeared in the area, followed by henge monuments, and then by the Wedding Stones at Stanton Drew.
This paper re-examines the complex in the light of geophysical surveys at Stanton Drew, highlighting missed details, before suggesting multiple lunar alignments within the much under-valued megalithic complex. The monuments at Avebury and Stonehenge are then examined and a close association between the users of all three sites is proposed. 2. Background 2.1 Chambered Tombs The Somerset region is associated with one of the best-known forms of Neolithic chambered tomb - the Cotswold-Severn group. Two main sub-types exist: transepted long chambered tombs, containing a number of compartments/transepts opening on both sides from a central passage (e.g. Stoney Littleton, Somerset); and another, lateral tombs, in which the compartments are placed with entrances along the side, a symbolic dry-stone entrance placed in the centre (e.g. Belas Knap, Gloucestershire). The lateral tombs may slightly predate the former [Lynch 1997, p.54]. Many tombs appear to incorporate earlier cairns (e.g., Notgrove, Gloucestershire) implying a gradual spread of the "Somerset culture". Burl [1983, p.21] has noted how almost all Cotswold-Severn tombs have their central entrances aligned between northeast and southeast, signifying an interest in celestial movements by the builders. Disarticulated human remains have been found in the compartments of many such tombs [e.g., Bulleid 1941]. Nearly a dozen examples exist in the area around Stanton Drew, including those at Redhill, Butcombe and Dundry. Such structures perhaps functioning as localised representations of previously sacred caves when people spread out over the landscape due to farming and/or overcrowding. This distinct form of chambered tomb appears to be centred on the Mendip area, ranging up into Gloucestershire and north Wales, as well as east to Wiltshire, suggesting an influential Somerset community. Numerous examples also exist to the west, in south Wales, near Cardiff (e.g., Tinkinswood) and in the Gower (Parc Le Breos), across the opening of the Bristol Channel from the Somerset Levels. Further, it appears that most tombs are within site of at least one other, e.g., Redhill and Butcombe; a new feature of Cotswold-Severn tombs can be noted. 2.2 Henges A particular form of henge also appears centred in Somerset containing an outer ditch and inner bank, known as Type B [Burl 1991, p.14]. These can be found in the same areas as the Cotswold-Severn tombs, on the Mendips (Priddy) and in north Wales (Llandegai North), as well as further afield from the identified regions: north and west of Wales, on Anglesey (Castell Bryngwyn) and near Dublin (Longstone Rath) respectively; further into Wiltshire, at Stonehenge (modified along its outer edge); and significantly north of Gloucestershire, in Cumbria (Penrith). Burl [ibid., p.16] suggests that henges were used both for ceremonial and trading purposes, often with regional types built in other areas specifically for the latter (in safety), which may explain the siting of such out-post henges. The multiple-type henge phenomenon occurs on the Mendips at Priddy where a north-northeast alignment of three Type B henges can be found, with a fourth partially constructed henge of the same type nearby, and two henges of a different type within a six-mile radius. The alignment of three Type B henges is slightly less than perfect. Burl [ibid.] has also suggested that the cardinal location of a henge entrance may be significant to the location of its users. The two northern most of the roughly aligned Type B henges at Priddy have their entrances to the north, whilst the third has its entrance to the south. On this basis it can be speculated that the north-entrance henges were for the related communities in north Wales and Gloucestershire, whilst the south-entrance henge was for the local community of Somerset and south Wales. That a fourth Type B henge was abandoned mid-way through construction indicates a change in the belief system. Alternatively, the "unfinished" ring may be a deliberate earthwork semi-circle or horseshoe akin to one found in Moray for example (see [Burl 1999, p.152-153] for discussion of horseshoes). 2.3 Standing Stones Wimblestone is perhaps the most well-known standing stone in Somerset, situated just under a line of trees at the western end of a valley whose northern edge was the site of a Neolithic settlement . The stone is around 2m tall and an equilateral triangle in shape, roughly 0.5m in width, and at its base is an oval hole. This huge shark's tooth is aligned such that its thinnest aspect points east/west. To the west is a sharp rise onto the Mendips at Dolebury Warren, not far from Aveline's Hole. At the other end of the valley, in Banwell, is another megalith of the other type found in the region - a large, flat, rectangular stone. This megalith is about 2m high, 1.5m wide, and 0.5m thick. Its top edge is rain-damaged and looks as if a corner is missing. The thinnest aspect points to Fry's Hill with its raised end, which leads up onto the Mendips near Cheddar Caves. Hence such stones can be seen as signposts to the henges at Priddy. It is also interesting to note that, standing at the Banwell stone's raised edge, facing south-southwest and hence perpendicular to it, the prominent Brent Knoll appears cradled between two closer hills. The huge, almost conical, Brent Knoll stands alone over a hundred metres proud of the western end of the Levels. It lies on an azimuth of 211 degrees from the Banwell megalith, that of the major southern setting of the midsummer moon. The minor southern setting may be seen directly to the right of its base, an azimuth of 231 degrees. Viewing the major southern setting over something is seen at Stanton Drew and further afield (Sections 5 and 6). It can be further noted that a similar alignment can be found in Trencrom, Cornwall where the southern setting of the midsummer moon is seen over Trencrom Hill from a nearby megalith. Old Ordnance Survey maps from the 1880's show the position of a stone called the Hundred Stone at Chapel Allerton, in the Somerset Levels. To the north-northeast lies Fry's Hill and the southern edge of the Mendips. It too had a clear view of Brent Knoll, its base appearing larger than at other angles. Hence it may be speculated this stone was a flat rectangle aligned north-northeast/south-southwest. In the 1700's William Stukeley reported a stone of the same shape near Chew Magna, in the Chew Valley a mile west of Stanton Drew [Burl 1999, p.55]. This early survey may explain the suggestions of a stone circle there, west of the fork in the River Chew from Chew Lake The Mendips are to the south-southwest, suggesting the stone was aligned north-northeast/south-southwest. The nearby Round Hill appearing almost conical with a view perpendicular to this orientation. Many more stones of these two types, now lost, must surely have existed in Somerset, encircling the Mendips to direct the prehistoric traveller. Their shape is reminiscent of the proposed male/female stones of the Kennet Avenue at Avebury.
In my study of “ Ancient Dumnonia ” I have laid some stress upon this great “ Crux ” of our Early Island history and, although the ultimate elucidation of Alfred’s Danish
campaign, ending with the “ Peace of Wedmore,” is by no means the only matter of historical interest, it is an extremely important one. German strategists, noted for their thorough
methods, would probably have solved all the problems of Alfred’s campaign long ago, but we do not want Germans in this country to spy out and explore. However, I have been fortunate enough to have the matured opinion of Major P. T.Godsal of Iscoed Park, Whitchurch, who has made a militarystudy of the Conquest of Britain by the Angles and also the Thames Valley Campaign.
These warriors must be classed amongst the “ Welsh-kin ” of King Alfred’s Will, and so mentioned, meaning not necessarily the Welsh of Wales but the British or “ Dumnonii ” of the West Country who have persistently survived all changes. Being sea-faring men by tradition they must not be confused with the tribal Welshmen of the Welsh mountains. The Welsh chiefs acknowledged the “ suzerainty,” if we may so call it, of King Alfred but in his extremity at Athelney we do not know that they gave material help. The Dumnonii on the spot, i.e. in North Somerset and possibly Devonia itself , gave this. under date of August 23rd, 1922, Major Godsal writes as follows : You have asked my views on the Battle of Ethandun. Though I cannot claim to be a military expert, and have made but a slight study of King Alfred’s campaign against the Danes which resulted in the surrender of Guthrum and his men. I will try and state its leading features from the military standpoint. ' To begin with we seem to know with certainty the bases from which the contending forces operated. The Danes had established themselves at Chippenham , Alfred had sought refuge in the marshes of the river Parret, and was for a time in hiding. The Danes had a fleet in the Severn under Hubba and Inguar. These landed at some place on the coast of Devon which then extended as far as the river Parret. " They there fought a battle with the men of Devon under their Ealdorman Odda and drove them into a small fortress. " The men of Devon, however, made a successful sally by night and killed Inguar and Hubba and twelve hundred Danes, the rest of the Danes escaping to their ships. It is evident that the Danes had a large force and were not engaged in a mere raid, but were endeavouring to hunt up AIfred. The name of the fortress occupied by Odda is given as ' Arx Cynuit,’ and this has been identified with Combwich on the left bank of the mouth of the Parret . However that may be, it is inconceivable that this battle took place anywhere but on the banks of the Parret." The result is all that concerns us now. It was that it gave Alfred and his men fresh confidence, and Alfred who had hitherto been in hiding began to make a small fort called Athelney in the centre of the marshes of the P arret; and this became without question Alfred’s base of operations.
When, after a long and obstinate conflict the Saxons finally conquered the Waelas and it is more than probable that the forts and strongholds of the Dumnonian chiefs and princes would, like the
ports, harbours and forests of Dumnonia, pass direct into the keeping of the Wessex kings and so, in time, become ancient demesne of the Crown Vetus dominicum Coronae. Such, indeed, seems to have been the fate of the domain of East and West Camel which, for centuries, figures as part and parcel of the “ Eorinsecus ” or outer Hundred of Somerton, the erstwhile capital of the “ Sea moor settlers.” At Domesday, Queen’s Camel, as East Camel appears to have been named , was in the hands of Queen Gytha, Harold’s wife, like Puriton (Peritona), the port on the Parret, leading to the Poldens and Glaston. This territorial nexus, linking the reputed stronghold of King Arthur with the Saxon Royal demesne and so with Domesday may have a real historical value. If King Arthur was really slain in this part of Somerset, the story of his conveyance to Glaston across the flooded moors and meres, and perhaps by the Brue or Parret river would be obvious and simple. The coast voyage from Camlan in Cornwall was both long and arduous for a wounded man. In Somerset near Glaston the boat used might have been one of the boats (called “ bargiae ”) of the great Abbey itself— constructed for river navigation. In Cornwall and in the neighbourhood of the famous Castle of Tintagel and its primitive harbour of Bude, (useful for Severn trows or light-draught ships of ancient pattern), the continuity of, first, British and then Saxon Royal or princely possession, may be even more striking. The “ Hundred of Stratton ” in Triconshire, i.e. Cornwall, appears in King Alfred’s will as a Royal Saxon holding bequeathed by Ethel-wolf to his sons. This would take us back to a.d. 800, nearly three hundred years before Domesday.
That portion of Cornwall which included Tintagel the reputed birthplace of “ Rex Arturus ” descended to “ Rex Aelfredus ” and constitutes now what is probably the oldest “ membrum ” of the history in Somerset is unbroken and impressive. Wookey Hole and Cheddar and the rock shelters in ebbor and the other gorges and cliff-faces, are among the earliest homes of prehistoric man in these islands. Paleolithic flint implements have been found alongside bones of mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger and hyena. these relics were left in places like the Bridged-Pot Shelter in the Ebbor gorge, countless ages ago when the carboniferous forests had not yet become the Mendip coalfields. Then, about seven hundred b.c. the Bronze Age gave us a civilisation which flourished in the Lake Villages near present-day Glastonbury. These people knew how to work metals and produce weapons superior to those manufactured from raw flints. They became a trading centre for northern Europe, safe in the fastness of their sea-lakes. As their houses on stilts tank into the fen, yet another layer became embalmed in the peat, preserved for excavation in our own day. I have held in my hand a bone wraving-comb, ornamented with a free curvilinear design, which had lain In (lie peat since its owner dropped it long before the coming of Christianity In these islands. Other Bronze and Iron Age Celts have left their signatures on the landscape itself, in the great tumuli of Priddy Nine Barrows and the ramparts of earthworks like Dolebury, Cadbury (near Tickenham) and Cadbury, the reputed Camelot (near Sparkford), Maesbury, Worlebury and Castle Neroche.
On remote Exmoor they left us Cow Castle, near Simonsbath, and Mounsey and Brewer’s Castles beside the Barle at dulverton.
They left us “castles” and storage pits at Penselwood and the Caractacus Stone above Winsford. They left the well-known stone circle at Stanton Drew above the Chew Valley not many miles from Bristol and a remote and much smaller one on the heathery moor above withypool. There is a chambered Long Barrow at Stoney Littleton, near Bath and Standing Stones at Orchardleigh near Frome. These ancient cultures were abandoned or destroyed by pressure from other tribes, possibly the Belgae themselves fleeing before the power of Rome. When Somerset itself became part of the Roman Empire, the lake villages were abandoned and forgotten until our own time. Country vilSTRUCTURE AND SCENERY The varied stones, which are the “bones” of a county, have given Somerset its contrasts in both scenery and architecture. Exmoor and Brendon gives us hard Devonian sandstone and slate, and the heavy, solid, low buildings to withstand exposure to westerly winds and sometimes heavy rainfall. Around Taunton and in the Quantock area, the soil is a rich Devonian red, and many of the cottages and churches (Wiveliscombe, Milverton, Bishop’s Lydeard, for instance) are of a warm pink sandstone. The Somerton area near the fossil-rich quarries of Keinton Mandeville abound in dignified blue-grey buildings with farms and barns on a generous scale.The gentle Poldens which undulate out into Sedgemoor country south of Street, reveal cream and pink strata above Compton Dundon, where alabaster is quarried. Doulting stone, from the south-eastern edge of Mendip, was used in the building of Wells Cathedral, and has given us mellow towns like Bruton and pretty villages like Compton Pauncefote. The carboniferous limestone of Mendip besides the caves and gorges, well known to the tourist, gives rise to the collieries of Pensford, Mid-somer Norton and Radstock, but the occasional pitheads and slag-heaps are well absorbed by this hilly, well-watered area. Mendipis also rich in lead, copper, manganese, mica, quartz and many other minerals. The golden Ham stone of the Yeovil area, which weathers so beautifully and lends itself to every refinement of the stonemason’s art, gives us Montacute House, Barrington Court and villages like East Coker, Stoke-under-Ham, Norton under Ham, and the Chinnocks, with a wealth of gabled farmhouses and smaller manors. Even modest cottages, barns and stables may be ornamented with drip stones, mullioned windows or sculptured porches, often two storeys high.
COUNTY OF SOMERSET a hole be bored into such a place as this, an artesian well is made.
This is not the village well with chain and bucket, but an artificial spring from which the water flows up with great force.
When the water of itself can find a
Neolithic, Beaker and “ Food Vessel : sherds from Rowberrow Cavern With the pottery was a service of Hint implements wrought by shallow scaling, including part of a polished tool and barbed stone arrowheads. But undoubtedly the important feature of the industry here found was the presence of , pygmy flints ;
though not quite the same as the earlier pygmies from King Arthur’s Cave they are probably derived from the Arthursian industry.
They suggest that the indwellers in Rowberrow Cavern were the descendants of men who dwelt in Britain in y. lardenoisian times.
They in turn perhaps were derived from the cave men of Old Stone Age. Cheddar, has also produced an association of round bottomed Neolithic pottery, sherds of Beaker-ware, finely scaled flint implements and small fragments of a polished axe.
Soldier’s Hole in Cheddar Gorge has so far given us a set of stone implements including a polished axe and a chipped stone spear-head. The most significant Neolithic site m this district was found by the Somerset Archaeological Society under an overhanging rock in. Chelm’s Combe, Cheddar, where round bottomed bowls and the bones of the men who used them had survived.
One of the bowls is of a Spanish type. The Neolithic men who dwelt in these seven caves had domestic beasts, but they hunted freely to augment their food stocks. Neolithic Man. The description of the Palaeolithic man of Aveline’s Hole and Gough’s Cave could be used for the men from the Gloucestershire and Somersetshire long barrows and from Chelm’s Combe without much amending.
Perhaps the main difference is that the long-barrow men had narrower faces than the cave men.
Judging by the skeletons we have there is no reason to suppose that the long-barrow men were other than the descendants of the cave men. But this is a theory that needs testing by research in transitional stations. A skull was taken from Bisley long-barrow upon which the dangerous and delicate surgical operation of trepanning had been successfully performed. > It has been asserted that the Megalithic culture was carried across Europe by traders from the Near East who were in quest of gold, amber and pearls.
They were dark broad-heads, and are known as Prospectors.
Professor Fleure has discovered in Pembroke and South Cardigan, where Megaliths are numerous, numbers of men who may be their descendants. Never the less, no oriental Neolithic objects have appeared in the West of England and, moreover, the skeletons from the long-barrows all appear to belong to the distinctive native type. At this period it is probable that work began on the gold bearing gravel of Wicklow.
For centuries this was the most important gold-field in Europe and this may account for the enormous number of flint axes and early bronze implements found in Ireland. But there are few signs of the gold trade in these parts. Trade there was: no one can walk across a ploughed field on Mendip without discovering a flint implement or flake.
No flint is found naturally in the district, therefore, the presence of such enormous quantities on the land is testimony of settled conditions and an interchange of commodities in the New Stone and Bronze Ages. Die Megalithie stage certainly lasted into the early Bronze Age; the occurrence of Beaker-ware with Neolithic pottery is good evidence of that. Stonehenge itself was raised after the close of the New Stone Age.
It is now well-known that the inner circle of blue stones was brought thence from Pembrokeshire.
There must be an intense heat to cause these outbursts; and when water rises from a depth so great that the rock around it is hot, we find a hot spring such as there is at Bath. Very ancient peoples made baths, and some of the oldest books mention warm bathing ;
but the Romans before they came to Britain built handsome public baths in their great cities, and used them not only for cleanliness but for luxury.
Therefore, although the site upon which the city of Bath now stands may have been a solitary forest when they came, the hot springs soon led them to think of making a settlement there. They built a fine city such as they possessed in their own country, with a temple and a forum (which was an open space where the markets and courts of justice were held) and many villas. The baths you may see to-day, with the ancient masonry containing the water, and tall pillars carrying a portico around it. But the Romans, as you know, were called away and the city remained in the hands of the Britons, who had learned the Roman ways and customs. In the period of war and waste that followed most likely it was much injured ; but when the Saxons at last came into the north of this county they took it, and the name afterwards appears in their chronicles. At first they called it Akermanscaster, but afterwards Haet Bathun, because of its hot springs. Where the Roman temple had stood they founded a monastery, in which Dunstan afterwards placed his favourite Benedictine monks, and made it of such great importance
with a mitre on his head and a book of the Gospels in his hand.
And he raised his hand and gave his blessing.
And in the dream they asked, “ Who art thou ? ”
And unto each the stranger had given the same reply.
“ I am called Cuthbert, the soldier of Christ; and to me, this morning out of thy scanty store thou didst give both bread and wine.
Now am I come to bid thee be of good courage, for the day of victory is at hand.
For the king shall blow his horn, and all the folk shall gather together, and drive the heathen out of the land. And this shall be a sign. When the fishers presently return, their boat shall be laden with fish, as none of them have ever before known.
” Then the king and queen were very glad, for they felt sure that the troubles of their kingdom were drawing to an end. And towards evening the fishermen came home, shouting that they had caught more fish on that one day than during all the time of their stay upon the island.
So there was plenty again, and they all made merry.
The giving of the bread and wine which did not waste reminds us of Elijah the Tisbite and the widow’s handful of meal and cruse of oil. The unexpected catch of fish is very like the marvellous draft of fishes on Galilee.
Yet it is likely that King Alfred may have dreamt that St. Cuthbert came to him, and believed that he received divine help to drive the pagans out of his land. At any rate he afterwards built an abbey 011 Athelney out of gratitude to God for his deliverance.
No trace of it remains until the present day, although some relics have been found before now upon the spot. A little stone monument now stands near the place where King Alfred remained hidden.
is supposed to have derived its name from Ced, signifying a brow or conspicuous height, and Dwr W ater; it is situate at the foot of the Mendip Hills, on the southern side, about two miles from the borough-town of Axbridge, eight from the city of Wells, eighteen miles from the city of Bristol, and near twenty miles from the town of Bridgwater, in the eastern division of the county of Somerset.
Its circuit is about twelve miles, and comprises 6633a. 3r. 12p. of land, of various soils (but chiefly limestone), distributed into meadow, pasture, and arable, interspersed with many orchards, whose appearance in the blooming season, when seen from the heights, adds much to the beauty of the prospect; the soil is particularly adapted to the growth of peas and potatoes, the early sorts of which are sent in large quantities to the Bristol market, where, from their excellent
among the Abbey ruins.
The slightly raised ridgeway from South Cadbury north-west towards Glastonbury is known as King Arthur’s hunting causeway and the great earthwork of Cadbury Camp carries legends of silver horseshoes and knights who ride at midnight.
In fact excavation has uncovered Dark-Age pottery and wine-amphorae within the ramparts, while weapons and other remains point to warfare there. After Arthur’s death in 539 the Saxons over-ran Somerset
at South Petherton, while for a time Somerton became the country’s capital. With the coming of Alfred and his long, heroic struggle against the Danes, the history of Somerset becomes the history of England, and the names of humble Somerset villages leap into the pages of our school In story books.
There is Athelney and the cakes,
then to Penselwood to raise the men of Wessex beyond the Danish lines, so to the decisive battle of Ethandune (Edington?),
the Treaty of Wedmore, and the bap-tising of the Danish leader, Guthrum, at Aller.
Today, these Somerset places, once so important, exist quietly among the withies and peat and the green ash.
In 1693, at North Newton, a few miles from Athelney, the Alfred Jewel,
enamelled and engraved with the great king’s name, was found and is now in the Ashmolean Museum. In 1214 Roger Bacon, the brilliant scientific monk, was born at Ilchester;
He has been called “the greatest man that Somerset has produced”.
He died at Oxford in 1294.
After this the history of England was the history of Somerset.
The great abbeys suffered under Henry VIII the Merchant Venturers sailed from Bristol, and then civil war llaioil up and down the county.
There was a battle at Babylon Hill on lb. A30 just outside Yeovil and great houses were invested and held out oi surrendered. But after the Restoration, Somerset came to the forefront flared with the Monmouth Rebellion.
In 1685 was fought the last battle on English soil,
when the Duke of Monmouth was defeated and Somerset became “occupied” territory as his Protestant adherents were rounded up by a Papist King and his minions,
notably Colonel Kirke and his "Lambs” and Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys and his “Bloody Assize”. After this, Somerset took the lead in happier events, Beau Nash, Ralph Allen and the Prince Regent put Bath in the forefront of fashion and
Remains of a fortified site of Saxon date, known as Daw's Castle.
The fortification survives as a curvilinear earthen bank, which encloses an area of approximately 2 hectares.
The northern side of the site has been lost to coastal erosion and landslips.
The surviving section of bank measures roughly 180 metres in length and has been shown by excavation to have been constructed in two phases.
The first phase is thought to date from the reign of King Alfred, between 871 and 899.
A mortared stone wall at its base fronted a bank.
The second phase involved the construction of a more substantial wall, with a wider bank behind and a berm and ditch in front.
This phase is believed to date from the 10th century.
This is probably the site of the burh of Weced (Watchet), first mentioned in the Burghal Hideage .
Watchet was a mint .
Inhumations possibly dating to the 5th century have been found near by.
The site was discovered during the construction of three lime kilns in the mid to late 19th century (see ST 04 SE 112).
The site is scheduled and in guardianship, the limekilns are also listed.
The bank defining the southern part of the enclosure is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs.
It measure 255m long and curves sharply at its north west end by the cliff.
Daw's Castle, St. Decuman's: remains of an enclosure which may once have been very extensive
, but much has been lost through landslips.
The principal remaining feature is a scarp about 200 yards long running in a curved line from E. to W., with its
convexity pointing S. At both E. and W. ends, there is a bank
running along the crest of the scarp for a short distance. Two
further portions of bank are visible just above the cliff.
Listed under unclassified earthworks
The enclosure apparently extended for 300 yards east, as there is a small piece of bank remaining by the road at this distance
further towards Watchet.
The name "Daw's Castle" seems a recent corruption of "Dart's Castle" which appears on the O.S. 1" Edn. It is a cliff top
enclosure in a commanding situation half a mile from Watchet. The northern half has been eroded by cliff falls and the
southern half consists principally of a rather weak scarp with
some evidence of a stone bank or wall along the top. There are unsurveyable traces of a berm at the foot of the scarp but no
indications of a ditch. In the east the work has been
obliterated by limestone digging and the construction of a
former golf course and the small piece of bank mentioned by Burrows has disappeared with land-slip.
The enclosure does not appear to be of I.A. origin, and Wedlake (4) suggested that it might be the remains of a Burghal Hidage fort.
Ralegh-Radford (5) examined the site and expressed the opinion that it was almost certainly Saxon,
Brooks in his article on unidentified
forts (6) of the Burghal Hidage does not go into the problem of
Watchet but quotes the Chronicle of 914 which suggests that temporary defences were constructed along the southern side of the Severn estuary.
In correspondence (7) he has reservations about the inclusion of Daw's Castle as a burh, partly from its
position away from the present town and partly from the lack of
documentation of a move from Daw's Castle to the present site of Watchet.
Brooks notes however that Halwell, Devon, is a presumptive emergency fort detached from the present settlement.
Only excavation can resolve the problem but it seems quite
possible that Daw's Castle was of a temporary nature, like
Halwell, and part of Edward the Elder's Severn estuary
defences. See ST 04 SE 28 for Saxon Mint.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (4-8)
Numbers of E-W oriented but findless graves were found in or near Daw's Castle in the 19th century, and are thought to be
5th century and possibly of Irish origin.
The remains were first found when excavating for the lime-kilns at Daw's Castle (presumably those published on OS 1:10 000 at ST 06284331), and more bones were discovered later. These (? both lots) were re-interred 'higher up the field' by the Charcoal-burner. (9-11)
at present consist of a scarp about 2m high, forming a half
circle, with the ends of the rampart ending at the cliff top,
and enclosing about two hectares.
This device is not common on pre-Roman sites generally, and is very rare in Somerset.
addition, there are accounts of a number of east-west findless graves being discovered there in the nineteenth century (Page 1890 241-2) which might point to a use in the period under
Lime kilns are situated to the east of Daws Castle (see ST 04 SE 112) (14)
Excavation in 1982 revealed two phases of defence, both with mortared stone walls and banks. The first phase, much slighter in nature, is possibly the Alfredian Burh of Watchet recorded in the Burghal Hidage. The second phase, a large stone wall with a bank and ditch, may have been commisioned by Edward the Elder or Aethelred II. A radiocarbon date of 730 +- 140 (HAR 5279) was obtained from a layer sealed by the defences. There is no evidence apart from residual sherds to suggest a Roman date for the site, while the pottery and and constructional details of the defences preclude an Iron Age date. When the details of the later defences are considered, this form of defence work is directly comparable to other Saxon burhs.
Phase I. The earlier wall was 0.85m wide at its base, 0.6m high with a bank behind it ca 7.0m wide (similar to Lydford burh).
Phase II. The later wall was 1.42m wide, probably at least 3.5m high with a bank 7.9m wide behind it. In front of the wall was a small ditch 1.52m wide separated from the wall face by a berm 10.7m wide.
It is suggested that since the Watchet mint did not strike any coins between 1056-80 a break unique among Wessex mints, and also since no reference to a fort at Watchet is recorded in Domesday, the site had been abandoned after the Conquest and the mint re-established within the present town. (See also ST 04 SE 28 for details of the burh).
The bank defining the southern part of the enclosure is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs. It measures 255m long and curves sharply at its north west end by the cliff. It is centred at ST 0617 4314.
ST 06194320. Remains of fortified site of Saxon date, known as Daw's Castle. Scheduling amended. (17)
The remains of Daw's Castle were archaeologically surveyed and investigated by English Heritage in 2004. The report on this work complete with a large-scale survey are lodged in the NMRC. This guardianship site, now mostly under close -cropped permanent pasture - with a fringe of dense vegetation around the southern and western sides- lies on high ground which on its northern side is delinated by a high crumbling and slumping cliff edge. Traces of footings that indicated the extent of walling on the southern and western sides, as well as some ploughed-down earthworks survive. The north-east corner of the site is overlaid by the earthworks of a tramway and its associated buildings. This tramway was used haul materials up and down the precipitous cliff-face to supply the adjacent limekilns. Daw's Castle was extensively damaged during agricultural improvements in 1982 and the threat of further damage prompted the purchase of this important monument by English Heritage (18).
(18) Field Investigators Comments
Martin Fletcher /20-MAY-2002/ EH project: Daw's Castle
( 1) Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
OS 6" 1928-39
( 2) edited by William Page 1911 The Victoria history Somerset, volume two
The Victoria history of the counties of England plan (C.H. Bothamley) Page(s)528-9
( 3) by Edward J Burrow 1924 Ancient earthworks and camps of Somerset
plan. illust. Page(s)140
(4) Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments (5) Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments (6) Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Mediev
(11) by Susan Pearce 1978 The kingdom of Dumnonia : studies in history and tradition in south-western Britain AD 350-1150
( 12) General reference
An Exploration of Exmoor 1890 (J L W Page) Page(s)241-2
(13) Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Section C
(P Rahtz) 16, 1976 Page(s)229
(14) List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
West Somerset, 29-DEC-1982 966 Page(s)5
(15) Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
illus (F McAvoy) 130, 1986 Page(s)47-60
(16) Vertical aerial photograph reference number
RAF 543/2821 (F65) 0124-0125 27-APR-1964
(17) Scheduled Monument Notification
EH Scheduling amendment, 12-MAR-2003
In the famous Wookey Hole,
near Wells, have been found the grizzly bear, the fox, the woolly rhinoceros, the great urus, the reindeer, the cave-lion, the brown bear, the badger, the rhinoceros, the bison, the red deer, the cave-bear, the wolf, the mammoth, the horse, the Irish elk, the lemming, and, last but not least, man. In Kent’s Hole, near Torquay, the Rev. J. MacEnery found thousands of teeth and myriads of bones. The bones were so closely packed that they seemed more than sufficient to stock all the menageries in the world. The bone caves of Belgium are particularly rich in bones. The cave at Lunal-Viel, for instance, contains nearly one half of all the hundred-odd species that have been dis covered in caves. In the Gailenreuth Caves, in Franconia, bones of no less than 800 bears were found. In the Neanderthal Cave was found the famous so-called “ Neanderthal ” skull—a human skull with ape-like characters. Dr. Boyd Dawkins is of the opinion that many of the caves, such as Wookey Hole, were really hyaena dens, and that the bones found in them are the bones of the hyaenas’ prey. “ The hyaenas,” he says, “ were the normal occupants of the cave, and thither they brought their prey. We can realise those animals pursuing elephants and 3906 rhinoceroses along the slopes of the Mendips,
till they scared them into the precipitous ravine, or watching until the strength of a disabled bear or lion ebbed away sufficiently to allow of its being overcome by their cowardly strength. Man appeared from time to time on the scene, a miserable savage armed with bow and spear, unacquainted with the metals, but defended from the cold by coats of skin. Sometimes he took possession of the den, and drove out the hysenas, for it is impossible for both to have lived in the same cave at the same time. He kindled his fires at the entrance, to cook his food and to keep away the wild animals, then he went away, and the hysenas came to their old abode.” How do caves originate ? How come these holes to be in the crust of the world ? Caves originate in various ways—they may be volcanic in their origin ; they may be excavated by the sea or by subterranean streams and rivers. Volcanic caves may be made in the crust of the earth simply by ejection of lava. In a single eruption a volcano may pour out millions of tons of lava, and, naturally, the ejection of this large amount of material must leave holes in the crust. Or they may be made in the lava itself by the shrinkage of its interior. Such “ lava caves ” are often of considerable
nine barrows stand above-
Wells ,wookey hole ,
the source of the river aXe ,
the somerset levels have a watery past as part of the severn sea .
Dumnonia When, after a long and obstinate conflict the Saxons finally conquered the Waelas and Dumnonians it is more than probable that the forts and strongholds of the Dumnonian chiefs and princes would, like the ports, harbours and forests of Dumnonia,
pass direct into the keeping of the Wessex kings and so, in time, become ancient demesne of the Crown (Vetus dominicum Coronae).
Such, indeed, seems to have been the fate of the domain of East and West Camel which, for centuries, figures as part and parcel of the “ Eorinsecus ” or outer Hundred of Somerton, the erstwhile capital of the “ Sea moor settlers.”
At Domesday, Queen’s Camel, (as East Camel appears to have been named), was in the hands of Queen Gytha, Harold’s wife,
like Puriton (Peritona), the port on the Parret ,
leading to the Poldens and Glaston.
This territorial nexus, linking the reputed stronghold of King Arthur with the Saxon Royal demesne and so with Domesday may have a real historical value.
If King Arthur was really slain in this part of Somerset, the story of his conveyance to Glaston across the flooded moors and meres,
THE BRIDGE CHAPEL . It tells us that the bridge was built at the expense of some member or members of the Trevet family, who lived in this neighbourhood . Remember that, in this age, this is an act of piety.To build a bridge or repair a road, and thus help Gods pilgrims is a holy deed clame to us is a small Chapel built actually on the bridge,which places the structure under the protection of one of the saints, and where offerings lot its maintenance are collected.It is served, not by our friends of the Hospital, but by the Grey Friars, whose acquaintance we have yet to make. There are dwelling houses on the bridge beside the Chapel, and at one of them the tollman will rolled our bridge-pennies as we pass his door. I said that the bridge is the hub of the town.Truly, we are in the midst of a busy scene, and from out point of vantage can see much oi what is going on around us. On the stone Slip, which has but lately been built, and which is destined long to outlive the bridge itself, lies a crowd, almost as large as that which we have seen in Eastover, is collected on the quay and is looking down on the work of a group of labourers, who are directed by a master mason in charge of the operation.They have brought from a ship, which has come up the river on the last tide, two stone effigies swathed in strawThe faces and hands, however, are visible, and we see that the Bristol carvers have fashioned here a Knight and his Lady, with faces and hands turned towards heaven The labourers are now lifting them into the flat-bottomed bargeOn the next tide they will be carried up to Taunton, and thence will make their final journey in a waggon to the church for which they are destined. Below the bridge, moored against the quay-side lie ships, not a few.That fine vessel Le Gabriel de Bridgwater belongs to Master Dennis Dwin, the Irish merchant.She is unloading her cargo of woad ,a blue dye-stuff for the use of the Bridgwater cloth makers.The town crane is busy hoisting it ashore. La Marie de Tanton got rid of and perhaps by the Brue or Parret river would be obvious and simple.
The coast voyage from Camlan in Cornwall was both long and arduous for a wounded man.
In Somerset near Glaston the boat used might have been one of the boats called “ bargiae ” of the great Abbey itself — constructed for river navigation.
In Cornwall and in the neighbourhood of the famous Castle of Tintagel and its primitive harbour of Bude, (useful for Severn trows or light-draught ships of ancient pattern, the continuity of, first , British and then Saxon Royal or princely possession, may be even more striking.
The “ Hundred of Stratton ” in Triconshire, i.e. Cornwall, appears in King Alfred’s will as a Royal Saxon holding bequeathed by Ethel- wolf to his sons.
This would take us back to a .d . 800, nearly three hundred years before Domesday.
That portion of Cornwall which included Tintagel the reputed birthplace of “ Rex Arturus ” descended to “ Rex Aelfredus ” and constitutes now what is probably the oldest “ membrum ” of
CHEDDAR, T he Church— Chantries— Rood Loft— Piscixa— Stone Pulpit— Tombs— Porches— Yew Trees— De Chedder Family— Manors— Ancient Cross— Charities— National School— Mrs. Hannah More— Friendly Societies— Manufactures— Paper— Cheese— Mines— Population. This celebrated village, which has borne the several names of Cheddour, Cedre, Cheddre, and now Cheddar, is supposed to have derived its name from Ced, signifying a brow or conspicuous height, an; it is situate at the foot of the Mendip Hills, on the southern side, about two miles from the borough-town of Axbridge , eight from the city of Wells , eighteen miles from the city of Bristol, and near twenty miles from the town of Bridgwater, in the eastern division of the county of Somerset. Its circuit is about twelve miles, and comprises 6633a. 3r. 12p. of land, of various soils (but chiefly limestone), distributed into meadow, pasture, and arable, interspersed with many orchards, whose appearance in the blooming season, when seen from the heights, adds much to the beauty of the prospect; the soil is particularly adapted to the growth of peas and potatoes, the early sorts of which are sent in large quantities to the Bristol market, where, from their excellent quality, they generally obtain a preference. On the west the parish extends to the churchyard wall of Axbridge : on the southern boundary runs the river Axe, dividing it from Wedmore and Wear. In the Cliffs rise the stream called Cheddar Water, which after turning several corn and paper mills, wends its serpentine course at the head of Cheddar Moor, through Axbridge and Cross Moors, to a place called Redcliff, where it joins the river Axe, which thus united passes through the parishes of Loxton and Bleadon, and finally empties itself into the Bristol Channel, at Uphill. In the year 1801, a most beneficial undertaking was completed by the enclosure and allotment in severalty of about 4000 acres of land upon the Mendip Hills, and Lowlands, called Moors, which before that time were held and occupied in common ; this enclosure has been the cause of the formation of several farms on the summit of the hill, which thentofore were applied to the feeding of sheep; but in consequence of the enclosure and division have been culti vated, so as to produce considerable quantities of oats, barley, and even wheat, besides potatoes and artificial grasses, whilst the more rocky and shallow portions are still applied to the feeding of sheep and young cattle. The total expense of perfecting the enclosure amounted to ,£8119, of which large sum a portion was raised by the sale of various parts of the waste lands, some in the moors, but chiefly on the hills. The Commissioners for this enclosure were:— F. E. Whalley, Esq., of Winscombe, John Billingsley, Esq., of Oakhill, and John Band, Esq., of Wokey, who on the suggestion and with the able assistance of Thomas Davis, Esq. (whose name and merits have been most justly commemorated by the Bath Agricultural Society), and who was then the liberal steward of the Marquis of Bath, caused the carriage road through the stupendous chasm of Cheddar Cliffs to be formed through their whole extent; before this incalculable benefit was conferred on the parish and on the public, it was scarcely practicable for even a horse to pass through from the immense masses of rock which had fallen into the valley. 7 The Cliffs, thus made accessible, have been of late, and especially during the last three or four years, visited by an immense number of persons from every part of the United Kingdom , and from many parts of the Continent, and even North America; for independent of their natural beauties, which have been long appreciated and celebrated in the most eulogistic style of commendation, the discovery of a very beautiful “ Stalactite Cave” at their entrance, and the formation of tea-gardens and other accommodations, for the pleasure and refreshment of visitors, have added greatly to the attractions which before existed. That the reader of this pamphlet may be made acquainted with the estimation in which this great natural curiosity has been held in ancient and more recent times, the following testimonies are collected from various sources. Shaw, in his Tour through the West of England, describes them thus:— “ About five miles north-west of Wookey Hole, near the small “ town of Cheddar, remarkable for rich and large cheese, are large “ Cliffs of the same name, and a stupendous chasm quite through “ the body of the adjacent mountain, as if split asunder by some “ violeut convulsion of nature, which exhibits an awful appearance “ to strangers. Near the entrance is a remarkable spring of water “ rising in a perpendicular direction from the rocky basis of the “ hill, and so large and rapid is its stream that it turns a mill “ within a few yards of its source, and afterwards falls into the “ river Axe. Near to this is a curious Cavern, the entrance “ of which is by an ascent of about fifteen fathoms among the rocks. “ Neither this nor Okey Hole have any communication with the “ mines of Mendip, though it is well known that in general among “ lead mines there are caverns which are various both as to their “ nature and situation.” 8 Collinson, in his History of Somerset in reference to the village of Cheddar and its locality, says :— “ The situation is rendered exceedingly fine by the contrast between “ the lofty hills of Mendip on the one hand, and the rich extensive “ level of the moors on the other. The steep slopes of the hill are “ constantly diversified, in some parts excavated into deep recesses, “ and in others swelling out into hold protuberances, adorned with *• hanging woods, which, in autumn especially, exhibit in their “ foliage the richest variety of tints and shade. “ But what most distinguishes the place, and occasions it to be “ visited by travellers, is that stupendous chasm, Cheddar Cliffs, “ which certainly rivals the wildest defiles in the British islands. “ Proceeding through the winding passage the Cliffs rise on “ either hand in the most picturesque forms, some of them being “ near 800 feet,* and terminating in craggy pyramids on the right “ hand, several of them are perpendicular to the height of 400 feet, “ and resemble the shattered battlement of vast castles. On the “ left hand, or west side, are two also of this form, which lean over “ the valley with a threatening aspect, and the tops of many others “ at the height of several hundred feet project over the heads of the “ spectators with terrific grandeur; in general the swelling projections on one side are opposed to corresponding hollows in the “ other, which is a strong indication that this immense gap was “■ formed by some strong convulsion of the earth. On the right “ hand the Cliffs are steeper than on the left, and are generally “ inaccessible, but beautifully interspersed with ivy, shrubs, small “ yew and other trees, which grow out of the fissures of the rocks “ up to the very summits ; the awful scenery is continually changing, “ but to observe all its beauties it must be traversed backwards and “ forwards; in doing this there will be found ten points of view, “ which are grand beyond description, and where the prospects » Collinson was misinformed in this particular, the highest of the rochs being no more than 429 feet from the valley or road to the upper surface on the hill, bv actual admeasurement. 9 “ exhibit that wild and tremendous magnificence which cannot fail “ imposing the mind of the spectator with awe and astonishment “ at the works of that power whose voice even the obdurate rocks “ obey and retire. Stupendous however as these Cliffs are, the top “ of Mendip is some hundred feet higher, sloping upwards from “ their tops in a gentle ascent, and affording a most extensive pros- “ pect over the southern and the western parts of this county, a “ considerable part of Wilts and Dorset, the British Channel, the “ Holms, and long range of the coast of Wales.” Rutter, in his history of the north-western division of the county of Somerset, describes the Cliffs as the sides of a “ stupendous “ chine or chasm, extending across or through one of the highest “ ridges of the Mendip Hills, presenting one of the most striking “ scenes of the kind in Great Britain. Here indeed, Nature, work- “ ing with a gigantic hand, has displayed a scene of no common “ grandeur— in one of those moments when she convulsed the world “ with the throes of an earthquake, she burst asunder the rocky ribs “ of Mendip, and tore a chasm across its diameter of more than a “ mile in length— the vast opening yawns from the summit down to “ the roots of the mountain, laying open to the sun a sublime and “ tremendous scene, exhibiting a combination of precipices, rocks, “ and caverns, of terrifying descent, fanstastic forms, and gloomy “ variety. “ The approach from the village is extremely picturesque, and at “ the entrance all is gentle and beautiful; a brook, clear as crystal, “ leads its murmuring course by the side of the road on the left, “ backed by a shrubby wood, at the opposite side of which are a few “ humble cottages, and on the opposite side the ground swells into a “ steep, sufficiently covered, however, with verdure and vegetation “ to form a soft feature in the scene ; but as the visitor advances “ the abyss suddenly expands, the rocks assume a more precipitous “ character, presenting bold and almost perpendicular points, with “ bare and rugged tops towering many hundred feet above the level “ of the country. A rough carriage-road winds for nearly two 10 “ miles through the Cliff until it reaches the summit of the Hills, “ presenting various advantageous points for viewing the wild and “ tremendous magnificence of the scenery, the rock alternately “ projecting on one side and receding on the other, and on cither “ hand rising almost perpendicularly into the most wild and “ picturesque forms, sometimes resembling the round battlements “ and solitary towers of a stupendous castle, having their perpendi- “ cular points partially covered with ivy, and beautifully intersected “ with verdant ledges, scattered over with the mountain ash and “ darker yew, intermingled with the crimson mountain pink and “ other flowering shrubs peculiar to this romantic district.” An anonymous writer in Blackwood’s Magazine, under the title of a Sketcher, thus describes the Cliffs :— “ No one can form an idea of the peculiar beauty, I should say “ grandeur of these Cliffs without studying them. From the “ general line of the country no suspicion could be entertained of “ so fine a pass existing among the Mendip Hills— there are indeed “ many passages through them of various character, but there is “ not one to be compared to that of Cheddar, indeed there is nothing “ like it any vdiere so far as my judgment goes. The rocks are in “ character the finest, in places perfectly precipitous to the depth “ of perhaps 400 feet— they are magnificent in form and colour, “ and the numerous caverns and holes add much to the sublime of “ the scene— it is certainly much finer than the pass of Llambarris— “ it is a circuitous and narrow course, and so retired and shattered “ within its own recesses that you think not of its utter barrenness— “ you are involved as it were in a deep wood of rock— many years “ since I visited it and sketched there. I vras much gratified the “ other day by a fine subject of Cheddar, sketched in on canvas by “ a friend of mine, Mr. Jackson, of Clifton, an artist of much “ genius, and in consequence I determined on the first opportunity “ to revisit the rocks— such soon occured, and I must confess that “ their sublimity, magnificence, and beauty, far surpassed my “ recollection and expectation. An artist cannot find better studies 11 “ for rock in detail, and should he be disposed to make pictures of “ such subjects he will find many as perfect in composition as he “ would desire. There is a kiln at the entrance, the smoke of “ which rolling among the rocks produces a fine effect; here too he “ will find admirable studies of caverns of every shape and depth— “ what a scene for a land storm; it is so treated in my friend’s “ picture, which is promising. I think few would wind through “ this sublime pass without a sense of fear, the rocks hanging over “ head, threatening to crush the intruder, and the yawning chasms “ close upon his footsteps, seem prepared, as if by magic, for his “ prison in the grave— it is the region for genius and enchantment. “ It may be useful to mention that the sketcher will find very good “ accommodations, as there are two respectable inns at the little “ village, which are close to the scenery.” As, connected with this interesting locality, the following account of an adventure which befel King Edward the Martyr, may be thought curious, it is extracted from an ancient manuscript in the possession of the Corporation of Axbridge, which Rutter describes as being apparently written about the middle of the fifteenth century, purporting to be compiled from an ancient Charter granted by Edward the Confessor. “ Sometimes, for the sake of hunting, the King spent the summer “ about the Forest of Mendip, wherein there were, at that time, “ numerous stags and several other kinds of wild beasts, for, as is “ read in the life of St. Dunstan, King Edward (A.D. 975), who “ sought retirement at Glastonbury, came to the said forest to hunt, “ Axbridge being then a royal borough. The King, three days “ previously, had dismissed St. Dunstan from his court with great “ indignation and lack of honour, which done, he proceeded to the “ wood to hunt. This wood covers a mountain of great height, “ which being separated at its summit, exhibits to the spectator an “ immense precipice and horrid gulph, called by the inhabitants “ ‘ Chedder Clyffs.’ When, therefore, the King was chasing the “ flying stag here and there, on its coming to the craggy gulph, the 12 ** stag rushed into it and being dashed to atoms perished; similar “ ruin involved the pursuing dogs, and the horse on which the King “ rode having broken its reins became unmanageable, and in an “ obstinate course carries the King after the hounds, and the gulph ‘•'lying before him threatens the King with certain death— he “ trembles and is at, his last shift. In the interval his injustice “ recently offered to St. Dunstan occurs to his mind— he wails it, “ and instantly vows to God that he would, as speedily as possible, “ recompence such injustice by a manifold amendment, if God would *• only for the moment avert the death which deservedly threatened “ him. God immediately hearing the preparation of his heart took “ pity on him, inasmuch as the horse instantly stopped short, and “ to the glory of God, caused the King, thus snatched from the “ perils of death, most unfeignedly to give thanks to God. Having “ returned to his house, that is, to the borough of Axbridge, and “ being joined by his nobles, the King recounted to them the cause “ of the adventure which had happened, and commanded Dunstan “ to be recalled with honour and reverence, after which he esteemed “ him in all transactions as his most sincere friend.” O j c (KaDcs. Although limestone ranges of rock generally abound with caverns or caves, and there can be no doubt many such are within the Cliffs, yet previously to the discovery of the Stalactite Cave, the only one of any extent which has been exhibited to the public, is that which lies on the right side of the Cliffs, opposite the limekiln, about ninety feet from the road. It has been explored to the length of about 300 feet, and takes a south-east direction; there is nothing remarkable within it, either of stalactite or stalagmite, or mineral incrustation. The other caverns, which are shown by the women who attend visitors, so far as they have been explored, possess no interesting feature. But the Stalactite Cave, discovered in 1837 13 by Mr. George Cox, proprietor of the contiguous corn mill and tea gardens, has been found to have been an object of very great and pleasing interest. Mr. Cox’s description of this admired cavern is subjoined:—• “ The roof resembles ancient sculpture, the formations are “ grotesque and fanciful, in one part you perceive the furniture of “ a Hindoo temple, the Black Prince, in another a mummy, elegant “ drapery and pillars from four to fifteen feet in height, fonts, “ transparent stalactite, likewise the substantial comforts of a farm- “ house, viz:— turkies, tongues, fat goose, bacon, bread, &c., are “ naturally pourtrayed; and the cavern is so perfectly clean and “ easy of access that the most timid and delicate may explore it “ without inconvenience.” The discovery was purely accidental. Mr. Cox, in removing a part of the rock in front of his mill, for the purpose of erecting a waggon house, broke into a hole which led into the present cave; he explored it, and after very considerable labour, the work of several months, in blasting and removing large masses of rock, he has brought it to its present perfection. Subsequent to the discovery of Mr. Cox’s Stalactite Cave, a cavern situate at the further extremity of the Cliffs, at the distance of about a mile and a quarter from the entrance, and on the left side, about 180 feet above the road, has been partially explored, and with results quite unexpected. It proves to be a bone-cavern; the following is its description, being the substance of a communication from Mr. William Long, which was read at the great meeting of the British Association, held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in July, 1838. “ The Cave is situated in limestone rock, and thirty feet in depth; “ on the first entrance it has the appearance of lofty chambers “ tapering into an archway, which opens again into lofty chambers, “ on the bottom of which are found human skulls and bones, mixed “ with those of bears, deer, oxen, &c., embedded in soil, evidently of “ remote origin, and containing very few fossils, which are, however, “ very abundant in the rocks above.” 14 The reading of this paper appears to have elicited observations from some of the eminent geologists who attended the meeting. “ Professor Sedgwick remarked that he had not personally visited “ the locality, but always looked with suspicion at cases where the “ association of human bones with those of other animals of extinct “ species was sought to be established. The occurrence of human “ bones in caverns might be readily explained, without their being “ coincident with the rock, and no argument could be drawn from it “ for changing the present system of geologists, in which the “ existence of bones belonging to the human species along with “ those of extinct species of animals had not been established. “ Professor Lyell mentioned that this subject had been minutely “ examined by eminent French geologists, who had found in a “ cavern in the south of France, human bones associated with those “ of the rhinoceros and elephant, the latter were of living genera, “ though extinct species. It was a singular fact, that some pieces “ of pottery found along with these bones led them to examine a “ tumulus in the neighbourhood, where they found pieces of pottery “ of the same description, and also bones of the ox, ass, and goat, “ but none of the extinct rhinoceros or elephant. The circumstance “ of human bones being found in connection with those of animals “ was no proof that they were coeval, hut only that they were of “ high antiquity, though not referable to a geological sera.” In confirmation of the remarks of these celebrated geologists, who appear to have been unacquainted with the locality of the spot where this cavern is situate, it is important to state, that in a part of that large tract of country, known in ancient times as “ The Forest of Mendip , famous for being a royal forest, visited and * The forest of Mendip, on the Mendip Hills, was about twelve miles in length and from three to six in breadth; it was well stocked with deer, and the ancient kings came hither to hunt. The loftiest parts are Crook’s Peak, above the village of Loxton, and Blackdown, north of Cheddar, both commanding extensive prospects, from the latter (Blackdown) can be seen the higher parts of Bath and of Clifton, near Bristol, and it is even said to be that part of Somersetshire which is visible from Windsor Castle. 15 hunted in by some of the Kings before and since the Conquest, and was also the scene of many bloody conflicts, in which the Saxons, Danes, and Romans were the actors. In various parts of the unenclosed Hill are lines of loose stones and circles, which were probably field works, or watch or signal stations, commanding as they do, a most extensive view of the vale from the Channel to Glastonbury, and also the range of the Poulden and Quantock Hills. Besides these indications of warfare, “ the continuous flat called Cheddar Moor, was (according to Rutter), until within these few years, studded over with British barrows, or tumuliand there are now existing on the Hills two or three large tumuli, covered with turf, and several small ones formed of stones; nothing therefore is more probable than that the victors, in the various battles fought in this vicinity, found, in caverns such as these, convenient depositories for their slaughtered friends or foes. About twelve or fourteen human skulls were entire and sound, and fragments of a much larger number in various states of decay. This different condition only implies that they were deposited at different periods of time, or were more or less exposed to the action of the air or the dampness of the cavern. It has been only partially explored, but it is hoped that the gentleman on whose estate it is situate, or the gentleman who has hitherto been at the expense of the examination, will gratify his own taste and the curiosity of the public by completing the work he has so generously begun. The cavern is entered by a vertical fissure, which has been enlarged to facilitate the removal of the great quantity of soil in which the bones were imbedded. The circumstance of its having been within a forest, will well account for the bones of boars, deer, and oxen being found therein, and also for those of wolves, foxes, &c., who made them their prey. It has been traversed about 100 feet in length, and unless it takes a downward direction, the unexplored extremity could be easily reached on the outside, thereby displaying the treasures of its inmost recess, and probably forming a very convenient and safe access to its chambers. The 1C circumstance of the discovery of bones in this cavern, a few of which nearly resembled the fossil state, and the fact of similar bones being found in other caverns of the Mendip Hills, with those of decidedly a more remote epoch, open a wide and instructive field of inquiry in the investigation of these geological phenomena ; and although we are borne out in our surmise as to the origin of the deposit of the remains of man in this cavern, yet it is worthy of remark that human bones have in no instance been hitherto found embedded in the detritus of mountain limestone and earth, which hinders the access to these places in any caverns hitherto explored at Banwell, or elsewhere in the neighbourhood. On this subject a most interesting statement appears in Fairholm’s geology. The Church dedicated to St. Andrew (whose statue is visible on the east side of the tower and in good preservation) is a fine old building, probably erected between the years 1350 and 1450. The chapel, or chantry,* at the north-east corner of the chancel, and now used as a vestry-room, indicates by its external architecture a more ancient origin than other parts of the fabric, and may have been part of a more ancient church. The tower is nearly 100 feet in height, with double buttresses terminating in ornamental pinacles, with a parapet of open work. The exterior of the nave and aisles is also highly adorned with smaller buttresses of a similar character, connected by pierced parapets. The belfry has a finely-moulded ceiling, with ornamented intersections terminating in a circular opening. There is a peal of five well-toned bells. The interior of the church is lofty and spacious, the nave being opened to the aisles by pointed arches on octagonal columns, and * Is a part of a church, generally in or near the chancel, endowed in ancient times by some person of consequence in the parish, with a salary to a priest to say daily masses for the souls of the founder or his family, and as appears was accessible by a low door, distinct from the principal entrance at the porches. 17 lighted above by six well-formed clerestory windows on each side, with an oak ceiling divided into deep compartments, some of which near the chancel have gilded ornaments. The arches extend half the length of the chancel, but the projecting ends are divided hy a handsome oak screen, which was restored a few years since by the Rev. C. J. Cobley, son of the late vicar, and now vicar of Winscombe, who further contributed to the embellishment of the church, by collecting from the floors of the public pews various fragments of the beautiful panelling of the ancient rood-loft,* and forming them into an appropriate reading-desk and clerk's pew. The pulpit is of richly-sculptured stone, and is one of the finest in the county ;f it was originally on the north side of the nave adjoin ing the ancient rood-loft, and was entered by a stone stair-case on the east side of the intersection of the arches of the north-easternmost chapel or chantry; this entrance to the old pulpit was dis covered a few years ago, but is now plastered up. Besides the chapel or chantry before mentioned as being now used as a vestry-room, is another at the north-east angle of the church, which was entered by a low doorway, now blocked up; this chapel contains a piscina.J * A loft in the church, from whence, in the times of Popery, the figure of the cross was exhibited to the congregation. There is reason to believe that after the Reformation this loft was, for a time, used as an organ loft, as in the churchwardens’ account of this parish, between 1612 and 1674, there, are frequent charges for repairing the organ, blowing the organ, &c., and also the costs of a suit against the churchwardens in the Ecclesiastical Court for the non-usage of the organ. f This eastern part of Somerset is remarkable for the extraordinary architec tural beauty of the towers of the churches, and for their numerous richly- ornamented stone pulpits, from whence may be inferred the great wealth of the district in ancient times, and the pious zeal of the great landholders at whose expence those structures were, with great probability, supposed to have been erected. A drawing of this pulpit by Mr. H. Marshall, and lately litho graphed in colours, may be obtained at his academy for young gentlemen, Clift House, Cheddar. I The piscina in this and other old parochial churches, was connected with tho ceremonies of the Popish forms of worship, its use is stated to have been to B IS Another chapel is situate on the south side of the chancel, also entered by a low doorway. And a fourth projecting chapel opens from the south aisle by a broad handsome obtuse arch, with clustered shaft on one side, and a series of canopied niches on the other. This chapel was formerly a chantry, and is now occupied by the family seat of Mr. Birch, and underneath is the burial vault. It was also the seat and burial place of the family of the Roes, one of whom was entombed there in 1595. On the south side of the chancel, and until lately within the rails, is a fenestella, or gothic niche, containing a double piscina; and on the north side, beneath a richly-sculptured arch, which seems coeval with the church, appearing to have been built within the substance of the wall,* is the tomb with the brass effigy of Sir Thomas de Chedder, in armour, standing on a lion, with the Chedder arms around it ; and on a floor slab at its side is a figure in brass of a female, supposed to be his lady, named Isabella, with the Chedder arms also ; portions of inscription brasses, containing the words “ Isabella tromina," having been preserved from the destruc tion that has been inflicted on the inscription on the tomb. The length of the church, including the chancel, is 129 feet, and its breadth 54 feet. On the north and south sides are porches with convey away the washing of the utensils employed in the different offices, through a pipe to the foundation of the walls, thereby to avoid the possibility of contamination. The concavity of the piscina also admitted a vessel or basin of glass or earthenware, wherein the priests might wash their hands. » Grose says that monuments within the substance of the walls of churches, are good authority for supposing founders or re-founders; in this instance of Sir Thomas de C'liedder, it is not an improbablo conjecture by reason of his great wealth. In those times most of the churches in country parishes were built at the charge of the great landed proprietors. Covered monuments, that is, consisting of cnmbent figures on altar tombs under canopies of festoons, were introduced into general use in the fourteenth century and lasted till the fifteenth. Another order of monuments were flat stones even with the pavements, inlayed with engraved brass plates; some of these are as old as the latter end of the thirteenth century, and continued till the fifteenth century, and had commonly the inscription round the side of the stone.— G b o s e. 19 stone seats ;* over each door is a canopied niche without a figure. On the east side of the churchyard is a yew treef of large dimensions ; another of corresponding age was blown down five years ago. The living is a vicarage in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of 'Wells. The late Bishop of Rochester (Dr. King) obtained a lease for lives of the Great Tithes, and of the Manor called Parsonage Manor, connected therewith; and under the Tithe Commu » In ancient parochial churches, in the north and south porches, are generally found stone benches on each side. The porch was a very ancient appendage to a church, and in times of Papacy had special uses. In the will of the pious Henry VI., respecting the foundation of his College at Eton, is the following article :— “ I t e m .— On the south side of the body of the church a fair large door, with “ a porch, and the same for the christening of children and for weddings.” The most particular use of the porch was in administering the Sacrament of Baptism, the following is the translation of an ancient missal on this ceremony : “ The priest, standing at the end of the church, interrogates the person to be “ baptised at the door of the church; the necessary questions being asked and “ prayers read, he (the priest) leads him or her into the church, saying— Enter “ into the holy church of God, that you may receive the heavenly benediction “ from the Lord Jesus Christ." And in regard to weddings, Somner relates that in 1299, Edward the 1st was married at Canterbury, to Margaret, sister to the King of France, by Archbishop Winclielsea—“ in ostio Ecclesite versus Claustrum." The porch was also used in ancient times for the churching of women, as by a missal printed in 1.115, it appears, “ that the priest goes to the door of the “ church, where the woman, to receive the ecclesiastical benediction, kneeling “ down, the 23rd psalm is said with some responses, after which she is led into “ the church, the conclusion being made before the altar.” J In the fifteenth century yew trees were generally planted in churchyards. Our forefathers were particularly careful in preserving this funereal tree, whose branches not only supplied the means of decorating the church on festival occasions or holydays, but were also used by mourners, and carried by them in solemn procession to the grave, and then were thrown under and upon the bodies. The branches cut off, by shooting next spring resembled the resur rection of the body, as the perpetual verdure did the immortality of the soul. Such are the accounts given by ancient writers, of the use to which these venerable trees were applied. 20 tation Act the impropriate rent-charge has been fixed at <£'4-00 a-year; and the vicarial rent-charge at £300 per annum ; besides which there are about thirty-eight acres of land, and some annual payments charged on certain lands, which together constitute a commutation of the tithe of wool and lamb, which was fixed in perpetuity under the Cheddar Enclosure Act of 1801. The vicarage-house is situate on the west side of the churchyard ; the former incumbent, the Rev. John Cobley, expended a considerable sum in rebuilding the south front, and repairing other parts of the ancient fabric; and the present incumbent, the Rev. Richard a Court Beadon, grandson of the late Bishop of the Diocese, inducted 22nd July, 1836, has since taken down the whole edifice, and erected another on the same site, at a very considerable cost, and in a stile of architecture anterior to that of Elizabeth.
From brean to bleadon to axe to cheddar to wells to glastonbury we have many old burial mounds suggeting to me that the neolithic living on this raised plateau looked over the somerset levels which were possibaly uninhabitable. The distance from south wales nowadays indicates that south gloucester being dobunni territory was around the river severn and that the mouth of the river and the levels mingle The burial cairn at stony littleton is similar to other cairns in gloucester Belas Knap is a neolithic chambered long barrow, situated on Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham and Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire, England With another cairn at the area behind Kelston nr Bath
Stanton Drew 'Stone farm/settlement'. It was held by someone named Drogo in 1225. Elements and their meanings stān (Old English) A stone, stone, rock. tūn (Old English) An enclosure; a farmstead; a village; an estate. pers.n. (Unknown) pers.n. Personal name
The Stanton Drew stone circles are just outside the village of Stanton Drew in the English county of Somerset. The largest stone circle is the Great Circle, 113 metres (371 ft) in diameter and the second largest stone circle in Britain (after Avebury); it is considered to be one of the largest Neolithic monuments to have been built. The date of construction is not known but is thought to be between 3000 and 2000 BCE which places it in the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age. It was made a scheduled monument in 1982. The Great Circle was surrounded by a ditch and is accompanied by smaller stone circles to the north east and south west. There is also a group of three stones, known as The Cove, in the garden of the local pub. Slightly further from the Great Circle is a single stone, known as Hautville's Quoit. Some of the stones are still vertical, but the majority are now recumbent and some are no longer present. The stone circles have been studied since John Aubrey's visit in 1664 with some excavations of the site in the 18th century. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries geophysical surveys have confirmed the size of the stone circles and identified additional pits and postholes. The Cove has been shown to be around one thousand years older than the stone circles. A variety of myths and legends about the stone circles have been recorded, including one about dancers at a celebration who have been turned to stone.
bridgewater , damnonia.blue Barge. A crowd, almost as large as that which we have seen in Eastover, is collected on the quay and is looking down on the work of a group of labourers, who are directed by a master mason in charge of the operation. They have brought from a ship, which has come up the river on the last tide, two stone effigies swathed in straw. The faces and hands, however, are visible, and we see that the Bristol carvers have fashioned here a Knight and his Lady, with faces and hands turned towards heaven.
The labourers are now lifting them into the flat-bottomed barge.
On the next tide they will be carried up to Taunton , and thence will make their final journey in a waggon to the church for which they are destined. Below the bridge, moored against the quay-side lie ships, not a few.
That fine vessel Le Gabriel de Bridgwater belongs to Master Dennis Dwin, the Irish merchant. She is unloading her cargo of woad, a blue dye-stuff for the use of the Bridgwater cloth makers. The town crane is busy hoisting it ashore. La Marie de Tanton got rid of