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Down End town defences

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: ST310413
Latitude 51.16741° Longitude -2.98792°

Down End town defences has been described as a Urban Defence although is doubtful that it was such.

There are uncertain remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Listed by Creighton (2006) as a fortified medieval town with defences of earthworks.

The adjoining settlement {of the castle of Chisley Mount} was called a vill in the early 13th century and a hamlet in 1280, but in 1225 and later in the century it was a borough. Eight burgesses there belonged to Puriton manor in 1306 but at least one burgage had earlier belonged to Thomas Trivet in respect of his estate at Puriton and Crandon. A rent there was assigned to the infirmary at Athelney abbey, and John Burney, vicar of Puriton, devised a burgage there c. 1426. Henry Courtenay (d. 1469) held 15 burgages. Holders of 3 burgages were mentioned in 1505, 1554, and 1604, and individual burgages, otherwise described as tenements or dwelling houses, were recorded between 1572 and 1787. (VCH 2004)

ST 310414. The hamlet of Down End can be equated through place-name connexions with the medieval borough of Caput Montis which is mentioned in the Assize Rolls of 1225 and 1242-3 but omitted from the Nomina Villarum of 1316. This borough was probably established by the De Columbers, lords of Puriton, before 1159. At that date they were paying 'burgriht' and their borough at Nether Stowey had not been developed (Beresford 1967).
Down End has a simple grid plan typical of towns of the Early Middle Ages. It is also possible the town controlled a small port on the River Parrett (Aston and Leech 1977).
Down End is mentioned in 1159 when Philip de Columbus owes 10s for Burghht. In 1225 Down End is represented as the borough of 'Chef del Munt' or 'Caput Montis', by its own jury at the eyre (Beresford and Finberg 1973). (PastScape)

No mention of town defences is made in the archaeological databases or the authoritative and modern VCH. It is difficult to understand the reason Creighton lists this as a defended town. In the medieval period it was on a ridge of higher land surrounded on several sides by marsh but there is nothing to suggest any artificial additions to these natural defences although there are a number of late medieval and early modern flood defences in the area consisting of earthen banks.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:34

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