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Axbridge – the 20th burh to be cited in the Burghal Hidage

Kingdom Type of Burh No. of Hides O.S. Grid Ref
Wessex Burghal Town 400 ST43185462
Batt (1975) suggests that the burh was positioned to the south of the market square covering the low spur of flat land that projects into the moor along Moorland Lane. The perimeter of this area measures c.513m and is therefore comparable with the area described in the Burghal Hideage. This position would have allowed control over the east-west route as well as being provided with some natural defences on the west and south sides by the boggy ground. However, no protection is evident on the west side as the land rises from Moorland Lane across The Furlong playing field. The modern street and plot pattern is rectangular which may conform to an earlier defensive layout. Batt suggests the main road to Cheddar originally followed the line of High Street then joined directly with Moorland Lane, (rather than kinking to join The Square), leaving the town to the south and crossing the moor as shown on the 1782 Day and Masters map of Somerset. If this was the main road it makes sense that the settlement would lie along it. However neither the 1788 Cheddar Estate Map, the 1811 OS Surveyor’s Drawings nor the 1822 map of Somerset by Greenwood show this road completely or give it prominence over the more northerly route.
The position of the church outside the burh defences is also unusual and raises the possibility of an alternative location for the burh defences. The burh may have taken in the area of the church and churchyard, market place and adjacent properties. However no clear line for the defences can be easily picked out there being no visible sign surviving earthwork features.

Text from Axbridge Archaeological Assessment pp 7-8.

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