Archeology Taunton

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English Heritage Extensive Urban Survey An archaeological assessment of Clare Gathercole Somerset County Council County Hall TAUNTON Somerset TA1 4DY 2002 SOMERSET EXTENSIVE URBAN SURVEYTAUNTONARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT by Clare GathercoleCONTENTSI. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1II. MAJOR SOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11. Primary documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12. Local histories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13. Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1III. A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAUNTON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2IV. THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TAUNTON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4GENERAL COMMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41. PREHISTORIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52. ROMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103. THE SAXON TOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134. THE MEDIEVAL AND POST-MEDIEVAL TOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185. PRE-1800 SETTLEMENT (OUTLYING AREAS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 426. INDUSTRIAL (LATE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 617. 20TH CENTURY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69V. THE POTENTIAL OF TAUNTON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 711. Research interests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 712. Areas of potentially exceptional preservation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 713. Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 714. Extent of current protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 725. Management Proposals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72VI. SOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 721. General documentary (Somerset/ Wessex) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 722. Taunton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 733. Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77VII. EXCAVATIONS IN AND AROUND TAUNTON to 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78VIII. COMPONENT INDEXES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 821. Component to map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 822. Component to page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83Appendix: Maps1Somerset Extensive Urban Survey - Taunton Archaeological AssessmentSOMERSET EXTENSIVE URBAN SURVEYTAUNTONARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT Somerset County Council would like to thank all the people who assisted in the compiling or editing of this report.I. INTRODUCTIONThis report forms one of a series commissioned by English Heritage and prepared by Somerset County Council withthe aim of assessing urban archaeology as part of the Monuments Protection Programme. The work was carried outfrom 1994 to 1998 by Clare Gathercole and Miranda Richardson (from 1996), managed by Chris Webster. Thereports are essentially as completed during that period but have been partially updated by Chris Webster with newarchaeological information during 2002.English Heritage has funded two programmes assess the urban archaeological resource - intensive and extensive.The former is restricted to the major historic cities, characterised by a great depth of archaeological remains, a wealthof historical documentation and in many cases, by a great deal of archaeological investigation. The extensive urbansurveys cover the smaller towns and are based on information in the local Sites and Monuments Record with limitedamounts of new information collected during the project. Once the information has been collected and mapped,attention is focused on the analysis of the town plan and defining topographic units within the town. This will leadto the preparation of guidance for planners, developers and others involved in the management of the town.II. MAJOR SOURCES1. Primary documentsPrimary documentary sources for Taunton and its hinterland are of variable quality and quantity. A number of earlycharters of the 8th, 9th, and 10th century are known, though some of these may be spurious. The association of themanor with the Bishopric of Winchester from the Saxon period onwards has resulted in detailed documentation ofcertain aspects of the towns history. The Winchester Pipe Rolls, for example, provide much information on the stateof the Castle from the early 13th to the mid 16th centuries. On the other hand, many of the Borough papers havebeen lost.2. Local historiesThough there is no Victoria County History coverage yet, Taunton has been the subject of local historians interestfor at least two centuries. This report leans on the work of Robin Bush in particular, though it is also heavilyinfluenced by previous archaeological assessments, more numerous and detailed for Taunton than for other townsin Somerset. The latter include those by the Taunton Research and Excavation Committee (1975) and by Leach(1984).Coverage of the surrounding settlements is limited. Whilst Trull has been the subject of detailed study by bothHallam (1953) and C W Green (1993), there is hardly any easily available material on other parishesAll these sources contain more historical and archaeological detail than can be reproduced in this report.3. MapsA number of early 19th century maps, and a very few 18th century, are available for Taunton and the surroundingarea. The earliest detailed map of Taunton town centre located for this report is dated 1791; But though most of themaps are not particularly early, they do include some very high quality examples. The maps used are listed at theend of the report.2Somerset Extensive Urban Survey - Taunton Archaeological AssessmentIII. A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAUNTONTaunton and the settlements of its immediate hinterland lie within the broad, sheltered vale of the River Tone, whichcontains rich agricultural land on which the economic importance of the area has been based. Converging in the valeare important communications lines from the uplands and the Levels, including the River Tone itself (though therivers navigable limit has varied over the centuries). Taunton lies at a crossing point of the river, but otherhistorically important settlements in the hinterland (including Norton and Bishops Hull) instead overlook the vale.The hillfort of Norton Fitzwarren represents the first known central place in the vale, and was in many respects thepredecessor of modern Taunton. The site was use in various forms from the Neolithic period onwards, and isbelieved to have been during the later prehistoric period an important interchange point on the boundary betweentwo tribes. The surrounding settlement and landscape pattern is still not fully understood, but it seems clear thatNorton dominated a densely settled and farmed area. A number of settlement sites have already been revealed byexcavation (including one in the town centre) and aerial photographic survey, and it is probable that many moreexisted.The partial abandonment of Norton in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD is the clearest indication in the Taunton areaof the impact of the Romans. However, it appears that eventually (in the 3rd and 4th centuries) the site wasreoccupied, perhaps representing a resurgence of native British traditions. Elsewhere, continuity of settlement seemslikely and, indeed, has been shown on some excavated sites. Ample evidence of Roman activity in the vale has beenrecovered in the form of coin and pottery finds, though this can not always be linked to specific sites. Whether therewas settlement on the site of Taunton itself is not yet known: no structural evidence has yet been recovered, exceptfor the remains of a small number of agricultural drainage ditches.The first historical reference to Taunton is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 722. The entry records the destruction(or demolition) of Taunton, buil