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Lyng Burghal Defences

In the civil parish of Lyng.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST334289
Latitude 51.05647° Longitude -2.95321°

Lyng Burghal Defences has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The site of the Anglo-Saxon burh of Lyng, a fortified settlement situated on the Somerset Levels. It lies just west of the Anglo-Saxon site of Athelney, to which it was connected by a causeway. The burh at Lyng was aligned east to west, on naturally raised ground at the eastern end of a narrow peninsula. It was thus protected on its north, south and east by the now reclaimed marshlands, and to the west by a low bank and ditch up to 25m wide, aligned north-east to south-west across the neck of the peninsula. The extent of the burh is defined by a scarp, averaging 15m wide and 2.5m high. There are a number of hollow ways visible, running north to south across the site. These represent the remains of a street plan, probably medieval in date, but possibly retaining some of the Anglo-Saxon pattern. On the south side of the site is a hollow way about 6m wide, flanked to the south-east by a raised platform up to 10m high, with a 4m wide ditch to its south. The burh of Lyng is mentioned in a range of contemporary documentary sources, including the 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the early 10th century Burghal Hideage. (PastScape)

The Anglo-Saxon burh at East Lyng includes the only open and largely undeveloped areas of the burh including its artificial western defences, the inner part of the monument having been subject to later development. The burh is historically well documented with direct references confirming its association with the nearby fort and monastery founded by King Alfred at Athelney to which Lyng was connected by a causeway. Lyng's entry in the Burghal Hideage further confirms its importance at an early date and its place, along with Athelney, in the early history of England. The monument will contain archaeological information relating to the measures which were taken to protect the country against the Danes during the time of King Alfred (AD849-99).
The monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes the undeveloped parts of the Anglo-Saxon burh of Lyng, a fortified settlement situated on the Somerset Levels. The burh was aligned from east to west and was located on higher ground than its surroundings on a site now occupied by the present village of East Lyng and bisected by the main A361 road. The higher ground occupies the eastern end of a narrow peninsula that forms a natural elevated island. The burh would have been protected on the north, south and east sides by the surrounding, now reclaimed, marshland. The west side of the burh is fortified by a low bank and ditch up to 25m wide aligned from south east to north west across the neck of the peninsula at the western end of the present village. A section of about 60m of this defensive earthwork is visible to the south west of St Bartholomew's Church. The burh lies just west of the Anglo-Saxon occupation site of Athelney, which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records as having been built by King Alfred in 878. The sites were connnected by a causeway which appears to have been overlain by the medieval Balt Moor Wall. Both the Athelney settlement and part of the Balt Moor Wall are the subject of separate schedulings. The extent of the burh is defined by a scarp at the interface of the naturally raised ground and the lower floodplain. The scarp is an average of 15m wide and 2.5m high and is visible intermittently around the perimeter of the settlement. The vestiges of a street plan, probably of medieval date but considered to retain something of the earlier Anglo-Saxon pattern is represented by several hollow ways laid out at right angles to the main east-west alignment of the burh. On the south side of the settlement a hollow way approximately 6m wide is flanked on its south east side by a raised platform up to 10m high above a 4m wide ditch which is located on the south side of the platform at the edge of the higher ground. Documentary evidence for the Anglo-Saxon burh comes from a wide range of contemporary historical documents including the 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records that the burh was built at King Alfred's command, and the early 10th century Burghal Hideage list (a 10th century survey of defended places), in which Lyng is mentioned as a fortification holding 100 hides. (Scheduling Report)

In Bond's 'New Anglo-Saxon urban defensive circuit of no post-Conquest importance' list. It would seem unlikely that the defences were maintained after the Conquest and probably had gone out of use before then during the relative peace of the early C11.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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