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Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Archaeological Evaluations at Carhampton, Somerset


By Charles and Nancy Hollinrake

C & N Hollinrake consultant archaeologists

Charles and Nancy Hollinrake

12 Bove Town
Somerset BA6 8JE
01458 833332

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Archaeological Evaluations at Carhampton, Somerset, 1993-1994

By Charles and Nancy Hollinrake1

Here are buried in this city innumerable persons, but their names are not known...1


A series of archaeological evaluations around Eastbury Farm, Carhampton, revealed

features and finds ranging from the prehistoric period through to the 13th century.
The majority of archaeological features were Early Medieval, broadly sixth to tenth
century A.D., with dating evidence obtained from Radiocarbon14 determinations,
sherds of imported, Mediterranean and Gaulish pottery and stratigraphic
relationships. This period seem to be associated with timber buildings, iron working,
ditched enclosures and a dispersed cemetery. An adjacent enclosed medieval
cemetery containing stone building foundations dated from at least the twelfth century
through to the sixteenth. The parish church of St John the Baptist stands some 200
metres to the west.

West and north-west of the farm the fields are covered by extensive thick medieval
and post-medieval alluvial deposits, probably formed through deliberate flooding to
create meadowland. These silts have protected the archaeological horizons below
them from plough damage, including an extensive iron smelting site dating to the sixth
to tenth centuries as well as a range of buildings of various modes of construction.

Carhampton, first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle as the victim of two Viking
raids in the early ninth century, was also mentioned in King Alfreds will. Other
documents associate the cemetery and buildings with an obscure Welsh saint called
Carantoc, who has churches dedicated to him in Llangrannog, Ceredigion, Crantock,
Cornwall and Carentec, Brittany. This, his church in Carhampton, would have sat at
the hub of many of the major events of the early medieval period.

The seaside town of Minehead includes a large holiday camp and the ever-increasing
numbers of visitors frequenting the resort results in severe summer congestion on the
A39, the main road link with both central Somerset and the M5 motorway. The
proposal to construct a new by-pass road between Williton and Dunster prompted
archaeological evaluations where the new road would cut through Eastbury Farm, a
place first mentioned in the thirteenth century. A local farmhand and native of
Carhampton, Mr. Les Shopland, pointed out a small adjacent paddock to the north-
west of the farm as the area where skeletons had been found in the past. Thus the
number of trenches proliferated, all containing dense accumulations of archaeological
features and deposits.

A total of 17 evaluation trenches of varying sizes were investigated at Eastbury Farm

over a period of about 18 months in 1993 and 1994 (see Figure 7), the large number

1 Quote from the Life of St. Carantoc, Doble, 1932.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

resulting from the diversity and wide distribution of archaeological deposits, finds and
features and the need by the Somerset Highways Department to find a relatively
sterile area through which the proposed by-pass could be routed.
This paper is no more than a summary of the most important results, entirely omitting
the prehistoric occupation identified in the most northerly trenches (Trenches 9 to 13).
The positions of all the evaluation trenches are shown on Figure 7 and the various
phases of the excavated features and deposits are shown on Figures 8, 13, 17, 20. The
full excavation archives and report are held by Somerset County Council Heritage
Service and by the authors.

Topography and Geology

Lla nilltud
Fawr Fla t Holm
St eep Holm
x e ME
Min ehead IP HI
M Car hampton WillitonQUA N Cannin gton PO
R BRE ND ON HILL S CK Bridgwater R. N HI L r ue
S Ca LS R. B
r y
Taunto n R.
R. Tone
Is le

county boundar ies
la nd above
10 0m o.d.

Figure 1. Location

Carhampton lies on the narrow coastal plain between the Bristol Channel and the
Brendon Hills, on the north-eastern edge of Exmoor National Park; the coastline is
one kilometre to the north. The medieval village of Dunster, overlooked by its
Norman and medieval castle, lies two kilometres to the north-west and the modern
seaside resort of Minehead is a further three kilometres distant. The alluvial marshes
and mudflats between Eastbury Farm and Minehead stretch from the seashore as far
inland as Dunster and the Exmoor foothills (Figure 2). East of Carhampton the
foothills roll down to the Bristol Channel, with Watchet five kilometres away. Small
medieval ports existed at Watchet and Minehead, and Dunster was served by a
harbour at the mouth of the River Avill, known as The Hawn.

The village lies at the head of a shallow valley running towards the sea, bounded to
the east by Eastbury Hill, rising to about 70 metre above sea level, and to the west by
Carhampton Knap which rises to 53 metres. Eastbury Farm, situated at grid reference
ST 015 427, stands at around 25 metres, on the northern edge of the higher clays
before the land slopes gently down towards the sea. Streams rising in the higher
ground to the south of Carhampton flow through the village and a stream running
through the farm originates in spring-fed ponds situated about 100 metres south of

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Eastbury (Figures 6, 6a & 7). The hills to the south attain a height of around 380
metres on Black Hill (Figure 2).

Carhampton is cut off from Devon by Exmoor and from central Somerset by the
Brendon and Quantock Hills, with communication routes restricted to the coastal
plain running east towards the Parrett valley and Bridgwater, and to the valley
between the Brendon and Quantock Hills which runs south-east from Williton
towards Taunton.

Selwor thy
Be acon 250m N
10 0m
Minehead BR
Dunster CH
The Beach AN
1 00m


250m Dunster Ker HWM Watchet
Castle Moor Daws
E Castle
St. Carantoc
X Avill
10 0m 400 Carhampton St Decuman
M Bats
Castle Dragon
O Cross
Dunkery 25
Be acon O 0m
dedicat ion
im ported pot tery

250m motte & bailey



e nd

on 1 0 6 km.


lls 1 0 4 mi .

Figure 2. Carhampton and its region. Roads marked in brown.

Cut off from land routes by the surrounding hills, this region turned its face to the sea.
A few miles across the Bristol Channel lie the coal measures of South Wales, and
following the Channel to the west leads to the Atlantic and a trading network
encompassing the western side of the British Isles, Ireland, the north and west coasts
of Brittany and from there to the Bay of Biscay, Portugal, Spain and the

The southern shore of the Bristol Channel is known as an iron bound coast, due to
its few safe harbours among the many cliffs and off-shore hazardous rocks (Nayling
and McGrail 2004, 215). The few safe harbours along the coast mostly lying at the
mouths of rivers, such as those at The Hawn and Watchet (Figure 2), would have been
important from an early date. There were a few places like Blue Anchor Bay, near
Carhampton, where beached landings could be made (Nick Gooding, pers. comm).
Some of these harbours evolved into thriving, small medieval and post-medieval
ports, subsumed in the later medieval period into the Port of Bristol. Cross-Channel
trade in basic commodities like coal, lime and potatoes continued at ports like
Minehead and Watchet into the 1950s.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

The underlying drift geology at Carhampton consists of Triassic Upper Marls, with
pebble beds forming the rises of Eastbury Hill and higher ground to the east. A
narrow tongue of Upper Marls reaches from Carhampton to the Bristol Channel coast,
with marshy alluvial deposits forming the coasts to the west and east (British
Geological Survey, Solid and Drift Edition, sheet 294). The soil is of the Worcester
series of argillic pelosols which are suited to permanent and short term grassland with
dairying and stock rearing. There are some winter cereals in drier districts (Soil
Survey of England and Wales, Sheet 5). The parish has been described as
" an agricultural point of view, by far the richest and finest parish in the whole
hundred....and yields excellent crops of all kinds of grain and pulse, equal in quality
to any grown in the kingdom (Savage, 1830, p. 288-9).

The archaeological setting (see Appendix IV and Figure 2)

In the Iron Age, Carhampton probably lay within the tribal territory of the Dumnonii
of Devon and Cornwall (Aston and Burrow 1982, Figure 7.5, p. 60). The Iron Age
hillfort called Bats Castle (SM 24002; MSO9082) occupies the highest part of a ridge
overlooking Dunster and Carhampton. An unusual earthwork complex outside the
east entrance of Bats Castle does not appear to be original, although without
excavation it is impossible to comment further (Burrow, 1981, p. 242.). A hoard of
coins dating between 102BC and 350AD was found within the ramparts in 1983
(Gathercole, 1996, p.5). A blind spot at the western end of the same ridge is
occupied by a smaller enclosure known as Black Ball or British Camp (SM 24003;
MSO9410; HER no. 33565; MSO9410), regarded by Forde-Johnston as an outpost of
Bats Castle; again there is no dating evidence from excavation or surface finds
(Burrow, 1981, p. 56.).

The locality seems never to have been particularly Romanised and find spots and sites
of the Roman period are sparse (Gathercole, 1996, p. 5-6). In the post-Roman period
Carhampton probably lay within the area of the British kingdom of Dumnonia and is
unlikely to have come under West Saxon political control much before the early-8th

Nothing is known of Dark Age Dunster, and bearing in mind the re-occupation of
hillforts in other parts of Somerset, there remains the possibility that activity in that
period was focused upon the Iron Age hillfort at Bats Castle, with its unusual eastern
entrance features. At some period, as yet undefined, Dunster Torre was defended,
becoming a principal stronghold by the Norman period, its military role continuing
throughout the medieval period (Gathercole, 1996, p. 10). Excavations at the
defended enclosure of Daws Castle, above Watchet, however, produced evidence
that this fortification was created in the Alfredian period, presumably as part of
Alfreds coastal defenses against Viking attack (McAvoy, 1982). Despite having no
direct evidence of Dark Age activity at Dunster, this paper presents evidence of
activity in this period at Carhampton, and, noting that Watchet is a British place-
name, it seems likely that this whole region was an important locality in the post-
Roman centuries.

Following the excavations described below, English Heritage has scheduled the areas
of Dark Age activity around Eastbury Farm and the fields to the north of Carhampton

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

(Schedule monument Somerset 378). This paper is mainly concerned with describing
this site.

Written Sources (Appendix II)

The first mention of Carhampton is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as aet Carrum
when it was raided in 833 and 840 by Danes who had possession of the place of
slaughter (Garmonsway 1982; Swanton 2002). By the end of the ninth-century,
King Alfred bequeathed the estate of Carhampton to his eldest son Edward (Finberg
1964, 127).

There are two Domesday Book entries for Carhampton (Thorn and Thorn 1980): the
larger estate (entry 1.6), belonging to King Edward in 1066, paid a firma unius
noctis2, while the smaller estate (entry 16.6), granted to the bishop of Chester after
1066, mentioning a priest and 9 tenants, was included with the church at North
Petherton, another royal estate. Carhampton was listed as part of the royal estate of
Carhampton, Williton and Cannington, encompassing the whole of the north Somerset
coast between Minehead and the River Parrett. Carhampton was also the caput of a
large hundred.

Before 1086, King William granted Carhampton to William de Mohun I, whose

tenant Simon Bozun granted the two churches of Carhampton to Bishop Reginald of
Bath in c1180 (VCH Som. I, 471; HMC Wells, I, 40). From the early 12th century
those people in Carhampton who owed tithes to Dunster church paid them instead to
Bath Priory, granted Dunster church by William Mohun II. The parishioners,
however, presumably worshipped at one of the two churches, one of which may
originally have been a monastery or minster (Robert Dunning, pers. comm.)

Documents relating to the ecclesiastical estate at Carhampton consistently mention

two churches in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Returned to the king at the death
of Bishop Peter of Chester, the two churches become the property of Bath Priory, who
used a small part of the income to support a prebendary of Wells Cathedral (Robert
Dunning, pers. comm.). By the late thirteenth-century a single church at Carhampton
belonged to Dunster Priory (Som. Rec. Soc. 7), (2), p6-7). By 1287 Eastbury manor
was held by John de Bretesche (Savage, 302) and the estate of any monastery or
minster at Carhampton must have transferred to his ownership by that time.

The Vita of St Carantoc, written c1090, identified the saint with Carhampton (BM MS
Cotton Vespasian A XIV). This was not the last reference to St. Carantoc in
Carhampton, however. A grant of 1312 used the road to the church of St. Karentoc
as a boundary marker (Savage, 1830, 42; 10th Report of the Historical MSS
Commission, appx., part VI, p73; Toumlin 1907-10, 167). During a visit in the early
sixteenth-century, Leland stated that Carntoun is shortly spoken for Carantokes
Towne, her yet is a Chapel of the Sainct that sumtyme was the Paroche Chirche.
(Savage, 46, from the Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-46, Pt II,

In 1816 Eastbury Farm was purchased by the Luttrell family of Dunster Castle from
descendants of the Percival family. It is now a part of the Crown Estate.
a food rent designed to feed the royal retinue, nominally for one night

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Saint Carantoc
There are two vitae of St. Carantoc; the first, vita A, written around 1090 and the
second, vita B, written shortly afterwards, probably in the early 12th century. The
most extensive translation and discussion of these vitae are found in Doble, with very
little research carried out since his publication in 1932.

Although Wade-Evans believed that both vitae derived from Ceredigion, Pearce
believes that the wealth of detail about Carhampton could only be available to a writer
from south Wales, and suggested that it was written in Llancarfan shortly after
Caradoc wrote his Life of St. Gildas (Pearce 1978, 195). The production of one or
both vitae may have been connected with the acquisition of the estate by Wells
Cathedral and the desire by Wells to encourage a history of Celtic antiquity for the
church at Carhampton as they did for a similar estate at Congresbury (Pearce, 1978,

Both vitae identify Carantoc as the son of Keredig, the eponymous king of
Ceredigion; Vita II includes his descent from Cunedda and both he and St. Dogmael
are listed in the Welsh geneology Progenies Keredig 8 (Jankulak 2007, 124;
Bartrum, 1966, 20). Vita II is the only text from medieval Wales in which an Irish
invasion of, or settlement in Ceredigion is mentioned (Jankulak 2007, 125). The vitae
relate that Carantoc lived in a cave called Edilu, where he taught 'the canonical
lessons for the old and new law'. He went to Ireland, returned to Ceredigion and then
traveled to South-West Britain where he encountered King Arthur pursuing a serpent.
Carantoc tamed the serpent and, in return, Arthur gave him Carrum where he built a
church. Later Arthur granted a further 12 parts of land where Carantoc founded
another church and a monastery in a place called Carrou.

Carantocs identity in Ireland is uncertain. An addendum to the Felire Oengusa

equates Carantoc with St. Cernach but Padraig ORiain suggests that Saint Carthach
of Lismore, County Waterford, is more likely to be the equivalent on linguistic
grounds. He also offers the alternative theory that ..The historicity of Carantoc is
open to question and it is possible that he may represent the ancestral deity/saint of
the [Irish] people of Ceredigion. (ORiain, 1994, 388). There were clearly strong
relationships between the people of south-west Wales and those of the Lismore area
in the fifth and sixth centuries, personified in the peoples of the Deise and the Ui
Liathan (Edel Bhreathnach, pers. comm.).

Figure 3 shows a stone inscribed with the name CARANTOCUS recorded in the
fabric of Egremont church, Dyfed (Allen 1889, 311). This stone now stands within
the parish church at Llandissilio, not far from Llangrannog (Dyved SMR record).
Another memorial stone at Winsford Hill on the southern margins of Exmoor in
Somerset is inscribed CARATACI/NEPUS [grandson or immediate descendant of
Caratocus or Carantocus] "with a ligature above the 'AT' which can be read as
Carantocus" (Thomas, 1994, pp288-289).

The saint's day is celebrated on May 16. Dunster Priory kept Carantocs feastday

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Figure 3. Memorial stone, Egremont Figure 4. Mememorial stone,

church, Dyved.). Winsford hill, Exmoor. (Thomas 1994.

N Llangrannog, Ceredigion Identified

in the vitae as Carantocs first church,
the place-name uses the Welsh
spelling of his name. Capel Crannog,
a pilgrimage chapel at St. Dogmael's,
Pembrokeshire was also dedicated to
Llangrannog Crantock, Cornwall, houses an
Carhampton ancient church and a house of canons
Crantock in the medieval period (Pearce, 1982)
and a chapel near Padstow was also
Carantec dedicted to Carantoc.
Carhampton, Somerset;
Carantec, Brittany. .
If Carantoc was known in Ireland as
Carthach, as ORiain believes, he
would also be the patron saint of
0 300 km. Lismore, the great cathedral of
CNH01 0 100 200 mi. Munster (see above).
Fig. 3 The churches of St. Carantoc.
Figure 5. The locations of churches
dedicated to St. Carantoc .

All of the churches dedicated to Carantoc are situated on the coast within easy access
of natural harbours or accessible landing beaches except for Lismore, which stands a
few miles above the estuary of the River Blackwater. Llangrannog is within the area
of Irish settlement in south-west Wales and this may have a bearing on the Irish
material in the vitae explored by Jankulak (2007). Such locations are typical of early
Christian churches in the West of Britain (Blair 1992, 227)

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Carhampton Village

Figure 6. Carhampton village.

The village appears to be a planned settlement occupying four or five roughly equal
compartments defined by roads and streams. Modern development has tended to
obscure the older arrangement but 19th century maps shows the divisions fairly
clearly (Figure 6).

The parish church, the Old Vicarage and Eastbury Farm stand within the northern half
of a possible oval enclosure measuring c. 350m long x up to 250m wide, split into two
by a road running through the centre of the longer, east-west axis. The outline of the
oval is marked by roads and tracks, banks, streams and combinations of some or all of
these elements.

Eastbury Farm is the site of Eastbury Manor, known to have existed by the thirteenth
century (see Appendix II). It is thought that the sixteenth-century manor house
survives as a modern garage (Dixon, 1980, 35621; SMR no. 33457; Appendix IV).
Local knowledge states that Eastbury Cottages originally acted as a detached kitchen
of the manor house (Les Shopland, pers. comm.) The watermill was dismantled by
the 1960s and its leat filled in (Dixon, 1980). Streams running through the village
were engineered into a series of channels and sluices to manage Ker Moor, north of
the village, as a water meadow.

The parish church of St. John the Baptist, the Vicarage and Eastbury Manor all lie
close to the 25m contour, on the northern edge of the firm clay before it dips down
below the alluvium of Ker Moor (Figures 2 & 7.)

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Dunster & beac h

The Old
Vic arage Eastbury
Far m
St. John
Dunster & the B aptist mill
Minehe ad
( old Ea stbu r y
co ttages
road) manor
ho use
Bl ue Anch or &
Watc het

Eastbury Farm
Detail of tithe map Williton CN H01

Figure 6a. Detail of tithe map.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

The Evaluation Excavations

Figure 7. Trench layout.

The stratigraphy

Although 17 evaluation trenches were cut in and around Eastbury Farm, a policy of
minimum disturbance to archaeological deposits ensured that none was completely
excavated. Finds and features in the northern Trenches (9 to 14) were essentially
prehistoric, whereas trenches within and adjacent to the farm (2 to 8 and 15 to 17)
contained a deep, dark grey, occupation spread containing iron slag, animal bone and
10th-12th century pottery sherds which sealed all earlier deposits. Determining
features within this dark grey layer was difficult; nevertheless, a wide variety were
recorded, including evidence for large-scale iron working with hearths, smelting
furnaces and slag dumps. Postholes, ditches and gullies were present, both within and
below the occupation deposit.

Use of the fields as water meadows, plus periodic flooding episodes, has ensured that
the occupation spread is sealed by a layer of alluvial clay up to one metre thick,
thereby ensuring that the occupation deposits have suffered virtually no erosion by
either weathering or ploughing. The archaeological deposits over a wide area are
extremely well preserved within what constitutes a buried landscape.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

The phasing

Phases I & II: Prehistoric, Romano-British and undated

Figure 8. Phase I (undated) and Phase II (5th to 7th century) features from all trenches

There were many contexts which contained no datable artifacts. Those which were
stratigraphically earliest could be of any phase from the prehistoric period to the tenth
century. Small quantities of Romano-British pottery were recovered on the site
which, while not sufficient to prove settlement, do seem to indicate local activity.
Trenches 9, 11, 12 and 13 to the northwest of the farm revealed an area of intensive
prehistoric activity with much flint and early Iron Age pottery, so it is possible that
some of the Phase I contexts might also relate to prehistoric activity.
The features and deposits discussed below, however, suggest that the majority of the
Phase I contexts represent Dark Age occupation, a period often characterised by a
dearth of datable artifacts.

Graves and mortar spreads (Figures 9 and, 10)

The graves in Trenches 2 and 3 were extended, supine inhumations with heads to the
west, and are probably early Christian. Only the skulls and grave cuts were exposed,
however, and radiocarbon dating was not incorporated into the research strategy at
this phase of the investigation . The graves were aligned with the edge of a building

It is interesting to note, however, that the grave fills contained rounded white water-worn pebbles.
Since there are no similar white pebbles in the surrounding deposits, they were probably deposited in or
on top of the grave, in a manner similar to that seen in Irish Dark Age churchyard structures like the
cross-base on Skellig Michael and the oratory in Illaunlochan, Co. Kerry. Burial 631 at Llandough
containing similar white pebbles in its fill produced radiocarbon dates of 361-662 cal AD (Holbrook
and Thomas 1994, 35-37).

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

of at least two phases, defined by two superimposed mortar spreads with postholes
along its edge and which was also recorded in Trench 5; the two trenches are
separated from the garden of the Old Vicarage by a hedge. These graves were
identified by their isolated grave-cuts, by the presence of small white water-worn
pebbles in the fills and by exposure of the skulls. The burials are still in situ.

Fig. 9. Burials
and buildings in
the vicinity of
the Old Vicarage
(Trenches 2, 3, 5
and 6.)

Figure 10. Trench 2 looking

south showing the mortar spread
as a pale layer in the facing
section which starts abruptly on
the lower left of the photograph.
The occupation layer rests above
the mortar spread in the left and
end sections. A grave showing as
a darker spread with a fragment of
skull lies just at the end of the
mortar spread (arrow points to

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Figure 11. Grave cuts in the base of Trench 2. Skull fragments are those indicated
by an arrow.

The graves in Trenches 5 and 6, discussed in greater detail below, were cut through
the mortar spread, which remains undated due to lack of finds. Two postholes were
seen at the edge of the mortar spread; their sections indicated that they had been
renewed twice.

It is tempting to suggest that the graves to the north of the hedge represent an early
dispersed unfenced graveyard dating from a time before the hedge defined the
boundary of a developed medieval cemetery. It would be sensible, however, to leave
interpretation until more data, especially radiocarbon dating, could be recovered.

Occupation spreads
What appeared to be an arc described by postholes in Trench 8 was only clearly seen
once, before heavy rain made it impossible to clear any of the postholes to obtain
dating evidence. An occupation spread suggested domestic activity in Trench 8 and
more convincingly in Trench 7, where a path, a small ditch and a beam slot suggested
the presence of modest buildings.

Industrial activity
A sherd of South Devon ware established that the industrial activity recorded in
Trenches 15 and 16, situated east of the stream that runs through Eastbury Farm, was
well under way by the late-fifth century. Iron-working was represented by numerous
hearths and a large slag dump in a ditch. Structural features were also present,
notably a worn, cobbled area of hard standing (1644), a gravel track (1508) and a
variety of ditches, postholes and slots.

Over 50 kilograms of iron slag, iron ores and residues recovered from the dump were
examined by Dr. Chris Salter of the University of Oxford Research Laboratory for
Archaeology. He summarized his analysis in the following words:
The examination of approximately 50kg of metal-working debris recovered
showed that iron was being smelted and worked into the form of billets or stock-bars
in the immediate vicinity of the excavations. Local ores, of the types found on the

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Brendons, were used as well as a more limited quantity of ore from the overlying
Permo-Triassic sediments. There were no indications that finished artefacts were
being produced on the site. An unusually wide range of ferrous metal types was
recovered: these included low carbon bloomery iron, hypo-eutectoid and hyper-
eutectoid steels, and cast-iron. The scale of the activity is not clear from this
evaluation excavation. Even with the present limited excavations it is clear that for
the period concerned Eastbury Farm could be one of the largest smelting sites so far
discovered in England and Wales. It would appear to be the only dated smelting site
of the early post-Roman period in the South-West of England (west of the line between
the Parrett and the Exe). As post-Roman to pre-Norman conquest smelting sites are
not common over the rest of England and Wales, this site should be considered of
national importance. (Salter, 1997)".

Figure 12. Cobble spread 1644

looking north. At the top of
the photograph Phase III hearth
1646 cuts the northern area of
the spread and the features
associated with wall slot 1663
lie at its southern edge
(bottom). The earliest in situ
fragment of Dark Age
imported pottery was found in
this feature. The Phase III the
possible anvil base 1621-25 is
at the bottom.

The finds
One sherd of Mediterranean imported pottery type Bi and three sherds and one handle
of type Bii amphora, all dateable to the 6th century, were recovered from the site.
Identification of these sherds was made in the first instance by Carl Thorpe of the
Cornwall Archaeological Unit. This identification was confirmed by Professor David
Peacock and Dr. Simon Keay from Southampton University, and later by Dr. Ewan
Campbell, University of Glasgow.

In addition to the Mediterranean pottery, a single sherd of 'E' ware pottery of 7th
century date imported from Gaul was also recovered. This sherd, the first E ware to

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

be identified in Somerset, was sent to Dr. Ken Dark, University of Reading, who
identified the sherd as E ware and then sent it to Dr. Jill Eyres of the Open University
for thin section and petrological analysis. Her identification was then confirmed by
Dr. David Williams of Southampton. All three investigations agree on the

A sherd of South Devon ware, a residual find found in a later context, was identified
by Carl Thorpe, who is familiar with the fabric from its occurrence at Tintagel where
it predates the imported Mediterranean wares (Thorpe, pers. comm.). This particular
form is current in a MC4th-C5th date-range in Exeter. A few copper-alloy fragments
were recovered from this phase plus one small fragments of glass.

Figure 13. Finds from

Phase II. Bii amphora,
E ware (inner and
outer surfaces), glass
and a copper alloy

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Dating Phase II
Features without datable artefacts, or Roman-British pottery were relegated to Phase
I, while Phase II is distinguished by the earliest occurrence of Mediterranean import
pottery, found here in an industrial, specifically metal-working, context. Sherds of
this pottery class, including one joining sherd to the piece recovered from slot 1663
(Figure 12), occur in later phases. Although few sherds of this pottery were found, the
spread of the finds within the phasing seems to indicate that Phase II may be assigned
a C6-7th date with some confidence.

Only a small portion of Phase I and II deposits was investigated and the natural
substrate was only seen in small areas of Trenches 15 and 16. This would seem to
indicate that substantial spreads of C6th, and possibly earlier, deposits and features
are sealed by successive layers of clearly defined alluvial deposits.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Phase III: pre-tenth-century

Figure 14. Phase III (8th to late-9th centuries) features from all trenches.

This aceramic phase was usually identified when its features cut through Phase II
features and deposits; it is worth bearing in mind that some of the features portrayed
in Phases I & II may well form part of this phase, although without stratigraphic
relationships it is difficult to determine which features these might be. There were
two distinct areas where identification of Phase III activity was most clearly
demonstrated, described below.

Trench 8

A radiocarbon date, calibrated to two standard deviations to 680AD x 980AD (see

Appendix I) obtained from 812 - a charcoal-rich ditch fill within a complex of
intercutting ditches and gullies (Figure 14) - identified the features in this trench as
falling into Phase III. A substantial occupation layer (802/805), containing charcoal,
iron slag and bone but only one datable find (pottery with a date range of C10th-
C12th) was recorded. Below this occupation layer a number of features were
recorded but not excavated due to continuous flooding caused by the high water table.
The fills and deposits below the occupation layer appeared to be aceramic.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Figure 15. Trench 8. Intercutting ditches with charcoal-rich fills sealed by

occupation spread.

Trenches 15 and 16: Industrial activity

The horizon between Phase II and Phase III in Trench 16 was marked by a thin layer
of clean orange alluvium. This flood apparently came on so unexpectedly that it
actually filled one of the hearth pits in Trench 16 before it was possible to retrieve the
bun of smelted iron.

Figure 16. Hearth 1646, where

removal of an alluvial deposit revealed
a blow-hole channel (upper right),
stakeholes for wattle and clay
superstructure and an in situ iron bun.
The triangular void may represent the
shadow of a crucible destroyed when
the cold flood water came into contact
with the hot fuel, although no
fragments were recovered.

Hearth 1646 proved to be the best-preserved example of a series of hearth pits from
this and the previous phase. All of these features in Trenches 15 and 16 were
variations on the same theme: simple bowl-shaped cuts surrounded by small stake-
holes filled with dark soil containing abundant charcoal and slag.

The orange alluvium which distinguished Phase II from Phase III in Trench 16 was
missing from Trench 15, so that it proved impossible to determine phases; the scarcity
of datable finds in Trench 15, means that some features may be of Phases I or II. The
features investigated in Trench 15, however, bear such marked similarities to those

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

found in Trench 16 that they are included in Phase III with the caveat that further
investigations may revise interpretation of their phasing.

Figure 17. Posthole complex 1621-25 might represent a large wooden stump
carrying an anvil surrounded by smaller poles of different sizes and dates, all angled
toward the central post as if to reinforce it after repeated, destabilizing blows. The
near-by hearth pit 1618 may be contemporary, while its proximity to the wall slot
1643 suggests it may belong to a different part of Phase III when it would pose less of
a fire hazard. If the stakeholes in the base of the wall slot represent reinforcement of a
cob wall, however, there may not be a fire risk, in which case all these features could
be contemporary. The wall shows a slight curve, perhaps indicating the beginning of
a rounded corner. No corresponding wall could be located, suggesting a structure
with an open wall to the north, a feature typical of workshops of all periods.

The Phase III feature in Trench 7 - path 708 - seems to have had a long period of use,
being detected in Phase I and the focus of further activity in Phase IV. The Phase III
gully in Trench 4 will be described along with the other boundary features in the
trench in the discussion of Phase IV below.

Discussion of Phase III

The salient element of Phase III consists of a well sealed, extremely well preserved
early medieval industrial site. The occupation horizon, especially in Trench 16, was
complex, with many unexcavated intercutting features and many stratified deposits
within it. The features in Figure 15 may represent an anvil base set into an open-
fronted building - a metal-working workshop. This interpretation is best regarded as a
working hypothesis suggestive of the type of structures and spatial arrangements that
could be expected to be associated with metal-working activities on the site, at least
until such time as further, more detailed excavations can be undertaken. All of these
features appear to have been cut through earlier deposits. There is no secure,
stratigraphic sequence proving these features to be contemporary these were
removed by machine when the trench was opened - but the intensity of charcoal
distinguished the fills from surrounding contexts, suggesting that they belonged to the
same phase of activity.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Only one sherd of pottery was recovered from trench 8, probably dating from the 10th
to 12th century, and all the features examined in this trench were devoid of dateable
finds although the quantities of slag found suggest that this area may be within an
industrial zone. This is in contrast to Trenches 7, 15 and 16, where C10th -12th
pottery sherds were common. It seems likely that activity in Trench 8 ceased before
the development of indigenous pottery in the later 10th century.

Phase IV: 10th to 12th centuries

Figure 18. Phase IV features from all trenches.

Occupation deposits

Thick occupation deposits, dating from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, sealed the
Phase III features in Trenches 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 15 and 16. There are indications that this
layer formed over a long period. As well as pottery, finds included iron slag, fired
clay fragments, struck flint, and animal bone fragments. An Eastern Mediterranean
Bi amphora sherd, dated to the late fifth or sixth century, came from the base of the
occupation spread in Trench 16. Although stratigraphical analysis suggests that this
particular sherd should be interpreted as residual, it is worth bearing in mind that
some of the lower levels of this occupation deposit may have been laid down as early
as Phase I.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Trench 7: Buildings

The features in Trench 7 formed complex, indecipherable arrangements of beam, post

settings and stake holes representing timber structures. Other major features included
a boundary ditch and a worn, stony path - (708) - resting on natural gravels. All
features were aligned north-south. It is impossible to make sense of investigative
sondages and partial excavation of features seen in a machine trench less than a metre
wide, but enough of these features, which covered the whole of the trench, was seen
to verify the trench contained traces of a complex of timber structures of several
phases dating to the 10th century if not earlier.

Trench 4: Boundary features

Figure 20. Plan and section of boundary features in

Trench 4. Occupation spread is highlighted in pink,
the track in tan and ditch silts in grey.

Figure 19. Boundary

features in Trench 4,
looking south.

The lower fill (407) of ditch 408 appears to have begun silting up in the 11-12th
century, although the upper fill (406) contained no finds. Path 405 was then formed
over the silted-up ditch; the path contained finds ranging from the 6th to the 12/13th
centuries. How much value may be attached to the one sherd of C11-12th pottery
from fill 407 must be determined before these features can be dated; more evidence
would be desirable. Only small portions of these ditches were seen so the relationship
between them and with the path 405 is unclear. The largest ditch (416) was re-cut
during Phase V.

Trenches 15 and 16: Industrial activity ceases

The upper surface of the occupation spread in Trench 15 was much disturbed by a
series of features resembling tree roots. Ditch 1517 and its lower fill 1505 were cut
by one of these features and it seems likely that an orchard was once planted over this
part of the industrial site. Phase IV features in Trench 16 were masked by another
layer of clean, red, alluvial clay, indicating another episode of flooding, similar to the

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

one observed in Phase III. The trampled, dirty upper surface of this flooding layer
was cut though in places by amorphous features containing few datable finds.

Re-deposited natural clay, probably representing deliberate backfilling, constituted the

upper fill of ditch 1517.


Sherds of Phase IV pottery were found in small quantities in most trenches around
Eastbury Farm. The earliest late-Saxon Pottery from Carhampton is probably early to
mid-tenth-century in date. Some of these pot fabrics, particularly fabric A2, are of
particularly poor quality and may be early-tenth-century, possibly earlier. One
oxidised sherd of fabric A2 is extremely lightweight with small to large voids
throughout and appears to be of primitive manufacture even by the standards of mid-
tenth-century wares in Somerset. The later types and forms can be paralleled
elsewhere in Somerset, particularly from Cheddar (Rahtz 1979), South Cadbury
(Alcock 1995), Wedmore (Hollinrake, C. & N., 1993) and Shapwick (Aston, Hall and
Gerrard 1998).

Discussion of Phase IV

The strongest evidence of activity in the tenth to twelfth centuries focussed on Trench
7, where the nature of the features was difficult to determined in a narrow trench.
Trench 8 produced no significant finds from this or later periods, suggesting that
activity in that area had ceased before the tenth century. The ditch complex at the
north end of Trench 4 would appear to define a boundary extant from at least the
medieval period through to the twentieth century, but earlier features were unavailable
for excavation within the confines of the trench. More detailed excavation could well
establish an even greater antiquity for this boundary. Tree holes within the upper
surface of the occupation spread in Trench 15 strengthen the impression of a decrease
in the Phase III industrial activity during Phase IV.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Phase V: 12th to 16th centuries

Figure 21. Phase IV features from all trenches.

Trenches 5 & 6: medieval cemetery and buildings near the Old Vicarage

Figure 22. Foundations, mortar spread
and graves in Trenches 2, 3, 5 and 6.
4 2

3 gra ves

mortar 5
walls rb e d walls
?The church of dis tu

St. Carantoc
(site of) walls

0 10m
CN H0 1

Figure 23. Skeletons, Trench 5.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Trenches 5 and 6 were situated within the north-eastern corner of the garden of the
Old Vicarage, roughly aligned at right angle to each other in an area previously
reported to contain human remains. HER entry 33449 describes how:
In the 1800's "a number of stones and cement" were dug up in an "orchard and
garden belonging to the vicarage, about 200 yards E of the present
churchyard". "Many human bones were found among the ruins as have many
more in some parts of the vicarage orchard, and also in an adjoining orchard
belonging to Eastbury Farm, where in cutting a deep drain, the workmen came
across many human skeletons all lying as if decently buried." Further burials
were located in the vicarage garden during landscaping in 1828.
Savage (1830) interprets this as being the site of the chapel mentioned by Leland.

Within Trenches 5 and 6, eighteen articulated skeletons were cleaned, drawn,

photographed and recorded, some with large nails marking the position of coffins.
Many graves had cut earlier ones and most graves contained non-associated human
bone. All skeletons were supine, oriented east-west with heads to the west and some
had arms neatly arranged. One burial was a neo-natal mortality and another was a
juvenile with unfused epipheses. They gave all the signs of being a normal lay
population of Christian burials.

A number of grave fills contained 10th-13th century pot sherds and lumps of iron
slag, suggesting that they had been cut through the extensive occupation/rubble layer
recorded in Trenches 2 to 4. Radiocarbon determinations for the upper level of
skeletons indicated that they were buried in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries (see
Appendix I).

Figure 24. Photograph of building foundations in Trench 5. A radiocarbon

determination from a burial cut by a foundation trench (far left, containing a ranging
rod) dated 1160-1400 (2 sig.).

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Within this medieval cemetery were a number of building foundations, some cutting
through graves and some contemporary with or preceding burials. The mortar spread
recorded in Trenches 2 and 3 extended into the nothern end of Trench 5.

Apart from the extreme northern tip of Trench 5 the basic stratigraphy differed
radically from Trenches 2 to 4. Stratigraphic recording was hampered by the large
number of articulated skeletons which were exposed below the garden soil and subsoil
deposits. As the skeletons were left in-situ, some stratigraphic relationships were
obscured. Natural geology was recorded at the base of a large modern pit cutting
hard, clean, red-orange clay in the southern corner of the trench junction below a
building foundation and grave cuts.

Apart from the intensive activity in Trenches 5 and 6, this period was marked in the
other trenches by a distinct lack of activity and the occupation spread observed in all
trenches was capped by a thick layer of alluvial clay. Some of the standing buildings
at Eastbury Farm contain elements of the medieval manor of Eastbury4 (Figure 6a;
Dixon 1980).
Summary of archaeological phases
Phase date activity trenches written sources
0 prehistoric occupation 9, 11,
12, 13
I Romano- burials 2, 3
British or mortar spread 2, 3, 5
undated South Devon ware 16
II C5th-C7th occupation spreads all
postholes, path, 7,8
ditch, beam-slot
metal-working 15, 16
B-ware 4, 16
E-ware 16
III pre-C10th occupation spreads all
ditches, paths 7, 8
charcoal deposit 8 833 and 840 Carhampton attacked by Danes
690x980AD (C14)
metal-working, 15, 16 899 Alfred bequeathes Carhampton to his son,
possible workshop Edward
IV C10th- occupation spreads all 1086 The royal estate of Williton, Cannington
C12th and Carhampton owed firma unius noctis in
Domesday Book
postholes, slots, 7, 4, 1086 The church at Carhampton holds 1 hides
ditches 15, 16 with a priest and 9 bordars
decrease in 15, 16 c1090 The first of two vitae of Carantoc written
industrial activity
V C12- cemetery with 5, 6 1180; 1198; 1223x1261 grants refer to the two
C16th buildings churches at Carhampton
1216x1272 from this time only one church
manor of Eastbury n/a 1287 first mention of the manor of Carhampton
alluvial deposit all but 1312 The road to the church of St. Karentoc
5&6 used as a boundary marker
1535x46 Leland described ruined chapel of St.
Carantoke with graveyard

The manor house, a water mill and sluice.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Topography: the proposed oval enclosure
The oval enclosure marked on Figure 24 was suggested by historic map studies but
has not been confirmed by full survey or excavation; hardly any curvilinear church
enclosures in the south of Britain have been dated. In common with many such
enclosures, the perimeter appears to have been marked by a ditch and external road
(Blair 1992, 233).

Trench 4 was positioned in order to date an earthwork which appeared to extend the
line of the boundary feature defining that section of the oval boundary.
Unfortunately, the earlier boundary ditch to the north of the earthwork could not be
seen on the surface and was only partially revealed in the evaluation trench, so it was
impossible to collect adequate data to assess the date.

The hypothetical oval enclosure is of special interest, however, in view of its

similarity to the enclosures often seen around early churches (Pearce 1978, 67), such
as that at Bawnatemple, Co. Cork (Mytum 1992, 80). The size of the hypothetical
oval at Carhampton, between 200 and 400 metres across, is consistent with that of
surviving Irish enclosures (Blair 1992, 232). Early monastic enclosures in Ireland did
not always adopt a rounded plan; often the enclosure would follow the landscape or
pre-existing field systems.

Dunster &
Minehead beach
(new Figure 25. The
hypothetical oval
enclosure in
The Old Eastbury
compared at the
Dunster &
St. John Vicarage Farm same scale with a
Minehead the Baptist mill
Eastbury typical Irish, oval,
manor cottages
house Blue Anchor & monastic
Watchet enclosure.

Eastbury Farm
Detail of tithe map Williton CNH01

0 100 200 300 400 500m

250 500 1000 1500ft

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Similar enclosures commonly contained multiple churches plus the buildings

necessary for undertaking the agricultural and industrial activities which underpinned
the economic life of the community (Mytum 1992, 84). The proposed enclosure in
Carhampton would have housed the medieval church of St. John the Baptist and its
cemetery as well as the buildings and graves discovered during these recent
investigations in the grounds of the Old Vicarage. Carhampton was described as
having two churches from before 1180 (VCH Som. I, 471) until the mid-thirteenth
century (Bath Chartulary, Vol 7, pt. 2, 6-7). The industrial site is divided from the
cemetery in the Old Vicarage by the stream running north through Eastbury, which
may have served to divide the monastic holding into different activity zones. The
possible enclosure is bisected by an old east-west road, still visible in the churchyard,
if no longer available for traffic, and the perimeter is followed in places by farm
tracks. If the earthwork investigated in Trench 4 is part of a monastic enclosure
boundary, the structures and activity recorded from Trenches 7 and 8 would have lain
outside the core of the settlement.

Place name
Eastbury contains the place-name element bury (OE burh, fort or stronghold, Mills,
1998); a term often used in the place-names for minster sites (Blair 1992, 234), but
perhaps better seen as referring to a quasi-defensive enclosure around the church.
Certainly, the topography of Eastbury tends to favour the enclosure interpretation in
what might become a circular argument in the absence of more data, and it does
remain a possibility that Carrum, the earliest known version of Carhamptons name,
might contain the British place-name for a defensive enclosure: caer, as Carl Thorpe
suggests (pers. comm.). This, in turn, would provide an interpretation for the name of
Ker Moor immediately to the north of Eastbury (Figure 2, above). Further
investigation of the potential oval enclosure would be worthwhile.

This interpretation would derive the place-name from Carrum tun, in contrast to
Lelands account outlined above.

Literature review
` Carhampton is not, and is unlikely ever to have been a large settlement, and
yet the historical background provides proof of an importance from at least the 9th
century, when Carhampton was raided twice by the Vikings. Even if there had been
no archaeological works at Eastbury, information contained within historic
documents, ranging from Viking attacks in the 9th century through to its mention in
King Alfred's will, its appropriation by Edward the Elder and its entry in the
Domesday Book, all suggest that Carhampton possesses an unusual history. Although
the two vitae of St. Carantoc can hardly be described as historical sources, their
existence and their link to Carhampton provides an interesting subtext to the
documentary evidence.

Nevertheless, this project would appear to have been the first archaeological
intervention in Carhampton, and neither Carhampton nor Carantoc has received much
scholarly attention until recently. The Rev. Doble undertook a thorough analysis of
St. Carantoc and the churches dedicated to him in the 1932. Susan Pearce suggested
that the references to Carhampton in Alfreds will may indicate that it was a British
church meshed into the Saxon system" (Pearce 1978, 100; see Alfreds will below).

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Karen Jankulak (2007) studied Carantoc and the sites of his churches with a view to
assessing the degree to which his vitae could contribute to an understanding of the
relationship between Wales and Ireland in this period. Having read an earlier report
of the evaluations described here, she finds the identification of the Eastbury site with
the church of St. Karentoc reasonable to assume. Despite the early occupation on
the site, however, she feels it more likely that the dedication to an early British saint
came from a later corruption of the Saxon place-name Carrum + tn referring to the
name used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle rather than from the saints original, pre-
Saxon cult (p. 118-119). Carl Thorpe, however, suggested that the Old English tun
was added to British word similar to the Cornish caer, meaning fort or enclosure
(Carl Thorpe, pers. comm.). The name of the alluvial levels between the village and
the Bristol Channel - Ker Moor - may lend credibility to his suggestion.

One focus of her paper was the relationship between the account of an Irish invasion
of Ceredigion in the Vita I (2) with the expulsion of the Irish from Dyved by
Cunedda and his sons as recorded in Historia Brittonum 14 (Jankulak 2007, 117).
This relationship has occasionally been noted in the past (e.g. Henken 1991, 48) but
exploring the subject is beyond the scope of this paper.

Historical Synopsis
Carhampton in the Dark Age (Phase II)
Dark Age occupation in Eastbury is confirmed by the discovery of South Devon ware,
dated to the mid-fourth to fifth centuries, amphorae (Bi and Bii wares) imported from
the Mediterranean in the sixth centuries and Gaulish pottery (E ware) usually dated to
the late sixth to early seventh century (Appendix III; Campbell 2007, 32). The Bi
amphorae were made in the Peloponnese area of Greece and the Bii may have
originated in southern Turkey / northern Syria (Campbell 2007, 19).

These pottery types are amongst the rarest of archaeological finds in Britain, yet a
number of sites containing these finds, falling into several different categories and
fringing on the Bristol Channel, have been identified.

Dark Age sites on the Bristol Channel (Figure 26)

Dinas Powys was a small hill-top site defended by several well-defined bank and
ditch systems. Whilst the structures were poorly-defined and ephemeral, the
quantities of finds, including Gaulish glass beakers and metal pins and brooches,
indicate a high-status settlement (Alcock, 1963). It might be seen as a re-occupied
Iron Age site, like the hillforts of South Cadbury (Alcock, 1995), Cadbury
Congresbury (Rahtz et al., 1992) and Cannington (Rahtz, 2000), although several of
the earthworks remain undated and none of the defences appear to date from the Iron

South Cadbury (Alcock 1995) and Cadbury Congresbury (Rahtz et al., 1992;
Cadcong, for short) both benefited from extensive open-area excavations within their
large, imposing defences. Both revealed a wealth of structural evidence of round
houses and rectangular buildings of various types. At Cadcong several Dark Age
round houses were identified as well as pits and large post-holes which appeared to
represent ritual activity, while the Dark Age structures at South Cadbury were more
difficult to identify. Both sites displayed the range of artifacts and activities which

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

identified high status occupation similar to Dinas Powys. The Iron Age ramparts of
South Cadbury showed signs of having been reinforced in the Dark Ages.

The interior of Cannington hillfort has not been excavated, the imports being
recovered from a large cemetery on an adjacent hilltop (Rahtz 2000). The cemetery
did not produce any inscriptions or artefacts containing clear Christian motifs, but the
burials were aligned west-east and were largely without grave-goods. The burials
have been accepted as Christian and their location opposite the main entrance to the
hillfort strongly suggests that this hillfort was also re-occupied in the Dark Ages and
that its archaeology, if excavated, would reflect those of Cadcong and South Cadbury.

Glastonbury Tor resembles these sites in its hill-top location and, although
seemingly covering a small area, it is roughly the same size as Dinas Powys. Unlike
the previous sites, it appears to be undefended, although this might be illusory.
Glastonbury is a peninsula surrounded by low-lying marshy ground which would
have been impassable before the drainage in the eighteenth century, so that the entire
parish or manor is naturally defended. Furthermore, the terraces on the Tor may well
include undetected defensive features. The Tor is a major landmark rising from large
expanses of flat alluvial moors and flood plains. At least two successive medieval
churches were built on its summit and its topography suggests that it functioned as a
sacred site for much of its history. Although the Dark Age levels produced timber-
framed buildings, bronze working areas and large quantities of animal bone, its
interpretation is still uncertain; there are equally good grounds for interpreting the
Dark Age site as either religious or secular (Rahtz 1971).

The Mount, Glastonbury, however, was a small, natural low clay mound adjacent to
the old River Brue on the fringes of the peninsula (Carr, 1985). Finds recovered
during rescue excavations ranged from the Bronze Age, the Romano-British period
and the Dark Ages through to the twelfth century. The site had been much disturbed,
but there was plentiful evidence for large-scale iron-working in 11th or 12th century.
There is no suggestion that this was other than a low-status industrial site, probably
associated with river transport.

Examination of the finds from twentieth century excavations in Glastonbury Abbey

has succeeded in identifying over twenty fragments of eastern Mediterranean
amphorae of Bii ware (John Allen, pers. comm.). Thus Glastonbury parish has
produced three distinct find-spots for this very rare pottery.

Exotic imports were also found at Athelney during the Time Team excavations in
2003; as at Carhampton, these were recovered from an industrial zone with abundant
evidence of iron working. Athelney is familiar as the location of King Alfreds
mishap with cakes, but it is much more than that. Strategically located within the
Somerset Levels, the low island commands the junction of several major rivers: the
Parret, the Tone and the Cary. From this location the whole of Somerset south of the
Polden Hills can be controlled while the site itself was protected by the surrounding
marshes, making this Alfreds key site for resistance to the Viking threat. The place-
name, meaning Island of the Princes, suggests that this strategic location was well-
known before Alfreds time (Hollinrake 2007a).

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

MORGANNWG Roman road

N Powys Cadbury
Llanilltud Flat boundary
Hol m
Fawr selected
Kewstoke hillforts
x C14 date
Brean e
ME church
R. Siger ND
IP HI L ceme tery
Culbone Brent L S
Carhampton Knoll C heddar Celtic
Porlock Cannington Glastonbury dedication
hillfort LD Mediterranean



LL import pot

MO Castle
Lla ntokai r ue

R. B

R. memorial

C arataci



st one stone



Athelney R. Ye Cadbury
R. Tone o
Isl Ilcheste r
Fo ay
e W

R. From


0 10 20 30 40 50km
Dark Age Somerset (shaded area sho w land abo ve 1 00m o .d.)

Figure 26. Dark Age Somerset and south Wales.

Carhampton can now be added to this list of sites and is also the only Somerset site to
produce E-ware: evidence for early-7th century occupation, the period during which
Somerset fell under the control of the West Saxon kingdom. Indeed, E ware is almost
entirely absent from Devon and Cornwall apart from Bantham, on the south coast and
the extreme tip of the peninsula, despite being found on several sites in south Wales
(Campbell 2007, 46, Figure 34). None has been recovered from Tintagel, the site
producing greater quantities of Dark Age pottery than all other sites combined. The
interruption of the exchange network implied by the lack of E ware can probably be
attributed to the disruption caused by the Saxon incursion into the Southwest; what is
more difficult is to explain is how Carhampton happened to acquire it; there may well
have been close contacts with South Wales and Ireland at this period.

The finding of these rare imports provide the only secure dating for Dark Age activity
at Carhampton, although any context lacking in datable finds could be contemporary.
The existence of large-scale, Dark Age, iron smelting at Carhampton is, therefore,
well established. It was not possible to date the burials in Trenches 2 and 3 although
white pebbles in the grave fills point to a Dark Age date (cf. Llandough; Holbrook
and Thomas 2005). Similarly, the stratigraphy in relation to the mortar spread in
Trenches 2, 3 and 5 also argues for a Dark Age date. These inferences, however, are
no substitute for secure dating evidence; there is a great need for further excavation on
the site to resolve these issues.

Iron working
The scale of the smelting works at Eastbury, potentially one of the largest and most
sophisticated iron and steel production sites of this period in England (Salter 1997),
might be taken to indicate that this was an industrial, rather than ecclesiastic site,

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

although smaller-scale industrial activity is commonly encountered in early-Christian

enclosures in Ireland (Mytum 1992,84; Jankulak 2007, 118-119).

The ore source in the Brendons (Salter 1997; Figure 1) may well have lain in the same
territorial unit as Carhampton, and the other raw materials required, especially
charcoal, were probably easily obtainable nearby. The products of the smelting
process were specifically designed for export: evidence was recovered for the creation
of billets or stock-bars but not for artefacts (Salter 1997). The exotic imports
demonstrate that the Eastbury site was involved in the mechanisms of exotic
exchange, and it is tempting to pair the iron billets for export with the imports from
the Mediterranean to paint a picture of international trade (Hollinrake, 2007b). This
carries risks of oversimplifying the issue, however; iron, and especially steel, were
likely to have been in great demand in Britain as well as abroad. Now that the
chemical signature of the Eastbury metals has been analyzed and documented, it may
well be possible to detect Eastbury iron from a variety of Dark Age sites in Britain;
Athelney is one obvious place to look, since there are no nearby ore sources.

The church of St. Carantoc

There is no doubting the existence of an important church at Carhampton by
Domesday. The dedication to Carantoc, reported by Leland (Pt II, p167) and attested
in the grant of 1312 (10th Report of the Historical MSS Commission, appx., part VI,
p73; Toumlin 1907-10, 167), suggests a Dark Age foundation. Jankulak, however,
has questioned whether the written sources should be taken at face value (2007, 118-

The evidence for a Dark Age church at Carhampton falls into a few main categories:
the imported pottery provides proof of Dark Age occupation of the site, which
might only relate to the industrial activity.
the undated, dispersed burials in Trenches 2 and 3 with white pebbles in their fills
may be analogous to other sites producing Dark Age dates (see above p. 11, note
the dedication to Carantoc, which Jankulak interprets as a later medieval response
to the place-name (2007, p. 118-119);
the vitae stating that Carantoc had a church in Somerset dates from the 12th
century, too far removed from the time of Carantoc to be considered a firm

It is possible to cast doubt on each type of evidence that favours interpreting Eastbury
as a Dark Age church. Carhampton bears many of the attributes of a high status site
of the sixth and seventh centuries: imported pottery, imported glass and copper-alloy
fragments associated with a large-scale iron producing industry: What is lacking is a
defensive location: Carhampton is exposed to attack by sea and road and lies in a
more or less flat valley bottom. This makes it difficult to view the site as an
aristocratic/military stronghold like South Cadbury and Cadcong (even Athelney is
situated on a slight hill). The authors therefore hold the opinion that the Dark Age
occupation at Eastbury is best interpreted as an early British minster church, linked to
the cult of St. Carantoc.

In the Dark Ages the west of Britain hosted a large number of religious sites whose
rulers and patrons tended to be venerated in them as saints (Blair 2005, 21). The

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

numerous ways in which these establishments could be of use to rulers include as

refuges, as centres of industry, as schools for scribes and scholars as well as musicians
and craftsmen; their large buildings were useful for large assemblies while their
literacy was useful for recording legal judgements (Bethell 1981, 45-8). Some of the
Dark Age activities recorded from Eastbury find a place on this list. At present there
is no clear evidence for an aristocratic presence at Carhampton, but two candidates for
aristocratic strongholds which would bear further investigation are Bats Castle and
Dunster Castle (Appendix IV, MSO9082; SM Som. 469). Further data from this
phase could shed much-needed light on the poorly-understood origins of such key
institutions as the British church and state.

Anglo-Saxon Carhampton (Phase III)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the Battle of Peona in 658AD: Here Cenwalh
fought at Penselwood against the Welsh, and drove them as far as the Parret.
(Swanton 2002, 32). It is unclear how much longer the land west of the Parret,
including Carhampton, remained free from Saxon lordship but it is generally thought
that Carhampton formed part of Wessex by the early-to-mid eighth century, although
the laws of Ina illustrate a society where both English laws and Welsh laws were
applied (Costen, p. 80-86).

iron working
The detailed history of smelting at Carhampton was difficult to determine from the
evaluations. Although smelting did appear to thrive in the Saxon period, and the scale
of the iron-working lends weight to the interpretation of the Phase III features shown
above as a forge (Figure 16), datable finds were infrequent and difficult to date
precisely. Some of the upper levels of the industrial activity were obscured by tree
roots. Industrial activity seems to have ended by the twelfth century (Phase IV).

Vikings raids on Carhampton: Carrum

The Viking raids in the mid-ninth century establish that Carhampton was worth
raiding at that time. The implications are that this was due to it being an important
church, possibly with aristocratic associations, but the Vikings may conceivably have
been attracted by the store of iron on site.

It may be that the features, deposits and radiocarbon date from Trench 8 are best
interpreted as timber buildings associated with iron working, judging from the
quantities of slag and ash, which were destroyed during these raids, never to be
replaced because of their vulnerable position outside of the protective banks of the
Eastbury enclosure. Before accepting this interpretation, it is pertinent to is: how
likely is it that the Vikings would have attacked this part of Carhampton?

Trench 8 was the furthest north of the evaluation trenches (except Trenches 10 to 14
which were entirely prehistoric) and also the furthest to the west, placing it closest to
the Bristol Channel and to the track leading to the coast, which follows a narrow
ribbon of firmer clay providing the only dry-land access through Ker Moor to the
shore (Figures 2 & 7). If the Viking raiders had tried to storm Carhampton from any
other angle, they would have foundered in marshy ground.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Logistical considerations argue for Trench 8 bearing testament to Viking raids and the
ASC informs us of two successful raids in 833 and 840 (Appendix II), but there is still
a lack of positive evidence from the site for Viking activity; after all, the radiocarbon
date is too wide-ranging to specify the period in question (690 980AD; Appendix I)
and timber buildings burn down for a variety of reasons, the presence of forges being
one of the most common. Again, the need for further evidence on this site presents
itself, and the question that needs to be answered is: how much evidence is necessary
to confirm that the destruction and abandonment of Trench 8 is due to the Viking
raids reported in the ASC (cf. Dumville 1992, 32). Whatever the detail of the Viking
raids on Carhampton, the church survived these attacks, unlike many other churches
which were put out of business (Dunville 1992, p.29).

King Alfreds Will (before 899): Carintone (Appendix II)

King Alfred bequeathed a number of estates, including Carhampton, to his eldest son,
Edward the Elder, with a clause asking the community [hiwum] at Cheddar, "to
choose him [Edward the Elder] on the terms which we have already agreed on"
(Finberg 1964, 127). This grant was ratified in 904x925 by King Edward the Elders
grant which defines the terms referred to as involving compensation for lands at
Carhampton by granting Banwell and Compton Bishop to Cheddar (Pearce 1978,
118). Interpretation of this passage rests partly on the nature of the community at
Cheddar, which was probably a community of clergy, judging by later references to
Cheddar Minster (Rahtz 1979, 13). Banwell and nearby Congresbury were both
described by Asser as 'British' churches'. (Stevenson 1959.). This comparison to a
religious community suggests that Carhampton was also probably of similar religious

The compensation was probably due to the requisitioning of part of the church estate
by the king for his system of coastal defences (Pearce 1978, 100, 118; Dumville
1992). Although direct evidence for alienation of land belonging to the church at
Carhampton is lacking, such acquisition of ecclesiastical estates was common at this
period, when land was required for its strategic value when establishing defenses
against Viking attack (Dumville 1992, p. 30, 39). Exchanges of estates among the
clergy representing major churches was already well underway in Alfreds time
(Dumville 1992, 46) and, although an exchange of land belonging to Carhampton by
grants to Banwell and Cheddar might well have been Alfreds way of offering
recompense for alienation of church land and his establishment of coastal defenses
might have provided the impetus for such an alienation, there is no real evidence to
support this theory.

By the end of the Saxon period, the Domesday survey records Carentone as part of
the royal estate of Williton, Cannington and Carhampton (entry 1.6), at which time,
rather than paying tax, the estate paid the king in food rent, suggesting that the royal
household was sometimes in residence nearby. The three royal estates of
Carhampton, Williton and Cannington, plus Oare and Allerford, encompass the whole
of the north Somerset coast between Minehead and the River Parrett, a grouping
which may have begun in response to the Viking attacks of the ninth century. (Robert
Dunning, pers. comm.). The size of the manor of Carhampton had not been reckoned
but the arable acreage, measured at 100 ploughlands, must have been great.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Domesday Book is more informative in describing the lands of Carhampton church

(entry 16.6). Listed under the lands of the kings clergy, the church held 1 hides
(about 180 acres). The residents on this estate were a priest and nine families, eight of
whom were smallholders who held most of the land and 1 teams of oxen. The
Bishop of Chester, a cleric in William the Conqueror's household, held this estate at
Domesday, his property at Carhampton returning to the crown at his death in 1086.
By 1087, King William had granted Dunster and Carhampton to William de Mohun I.
(Robert Dunning, pers. comm.).

Carhampton Hundred
Like the royal estate, the large Saxon hundred is named after Carhampton, indicating
that the village functioned as the caput of the hundred and placing its church,
presumably the main church of the hundred, among the group of churches known as
hundredal minsters. Such churches are often found on royal or comital multi-vill
manors of twenty to fifty hides and are recorded in post-Conquest sources as holding
estates of one or two hides (Blair, 1992, 323, 371). Little is recorded of the
procedures at hundred courts, but it is likely that the court was held somewhere near
the minster and that Carhampton regularly played host to representatives of
households from all over the hundred, perhaps giving rise to the requirement for the
churchyard cross, when there were too many visitors to fit into the church itself.

The Church of St. Carantoc

Regardless of whether there was a church in the Dark Ages (see above), the entries in
the Domesday Book discussed above and detailed in Appendix II indicate that a
church existed in Carhampton in the Saxon period at the caput of a hundred. These
early churches are best referred to as minsters (Foot 1992) with Carhampton falling
within the category identified by Blair as hundredal minsters (Blair). It is notable that
Foots comprehensive review of the pre-Conquest terminology describing church
institutions does not include the term hiwum/huish. If this term was used in King
Alfreds will to describe a religious establishment, as the reading of the texts
advocated above would suggest, it may have been a local usage confined to a small
geographical area.

Major pre-Conquest churches, often resembling populous towns, were unlike later
medieval monasteries (Blair 1992, 226, 259), which Foot argued as one reason for
favouring the term minster. The location of this minster is typical of early Christian
churches, not just because of its coastal location but also by being in an area of prime
agricultural value which would be equally attractive for the location of royal vills
(Blair 1992, 230-31).

Minsters normally included at least two churches, often more, only one of which now
usually remains (Blair 1992, 239, 246, 256) and two separate cemeteries are also
common, although the reasons for this duplication are not often clear (Blair 1992,
259). Minor domestic, educational and guest buildings for are also mentioned in
various texts (Blair 1992, 260-1) but have rarely been excavated, let alone identified
(Blair 1992, 258).

By the time of Domesday the church at Carhampton records an estate of 1 hides,

presumably reduced to this smaller size by Alfred, if his will has been correctly
interpreted above. Acquisition of minster sites by kings and lords was a common

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

feature of the nineth to the eleventh centuries with many minsters being reduced to the
status of important churches (Blair 2005, 323), especially after the Viking Wars (Blair
2005, 324; Dumville 1992, 29-54), and it is in the context of this general trend that it
is probably best to view Williams granting of the minster at Carhampton first to
Bishop Peter of Chester, and then to his general, William de Mohun (see above).
Blair reviews the lengthy process by which the early minsters were brought within the
episcopal system (2005, 108 -121) whereby many minster estates become the assets
of various bishoprics by 1066 (p. 115) and there is no need to reiterate this discussion
here. It would appear, however, that by the Conquest, Carhampton minster had lost
whatever administrative autonomy it may have once enjoyed as well as contacts with
other churches hosting the cult of Carantoc.

Medieval Carhampton (Phase IV)

Eastbury Manor
In the late-12th century Simon Bozun (or Bosus), a military tenant of the Mohun
family, granted the two churches of Carhampton to Bishop Reginald of Bath. The
earliest mention of Eastbury Manor appears in the 1287, when John de Bretesche
died, passing the manor on to his daughter Joan, the wife of Roger, Lord Perceval. In
the late thirteenth century The dean and chapter of Wells were given jurisdiction in
Carhampton, which was thereafter a peculiar (HMC Wells, I, 40, 149, 203, 306,
309. VCH file). By this time the written sources were referring to only one church in
Carhampton, although in 1312 William de Mohun granted a messuage in Carhampton
described as lying between the tenement of Sir Roger Perceval on the north and the
Kings highway which leads to the church of St. Karentoc on the south. It is not clear
whether this refers to the ruins seen by Leland or the present parish church, dedicated
to St. John the Baptist in 1510 (see Appendix II for references), the patron saint of
pilgrims. Now serving as the parish church, the dedication is typical of pilgrim
hospices, such as the parish church of St. John the Baptist in Glastonbury, which
functioned as a hospitium for Glastonbury Abbey until the hospital was moved in
1250 (Watkin 1956, 711,entry 1318; Figure 18).

The church of St. Carantoc

The rise of Eastbury Manor marked the end of the hundredal minster of Carhampton.
If the monastery was still in existence when John de Bretasche acquired Eastbury
Farm in the mid-thirteenth century, he effectively undermined the communitys
ability to feed itself by farming its land. The Dean and Chapter of Wells Cathedral
may have sold the estate to raise funds for building: the West Front of the main
Cathedral church had been completed by 1250 (Sampson 1998, 58) and the Cloister
range was being constructed (Sampson 1998, 63-68).

Sometime between 1534 and 1543 John Leland visited a chapel dedicated to St.
Carantoc which he believed had formerly been the parish church, where he described
a gravestone dedicated to a Lady Lutrell in the floor of the nave (Savage 1830, 46:
Leland 1535x46, II, 167). The medieval cemetery in the Old Vicarage garden was in
use from at least the 12th century through to the 16th century (see the radiocarbon
determinations in Appendix I); this cemetery is over 200 metres east of the present
parish church and its associated graveyard (Figure 6 and 6a). It is plausible that the
building foundations recorded within the medieval cemetery in Trenches 5 and 6, and

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

the ruins mentioned by Savage, are associated with the chapel of St Carantoc
described by Leland. ).

Although the chapel and cemetery in the Old Vicarage garden continued in use for
burials during the medieval period, the remainder of the site investigated during the
archaeological evaluation became part of Eastbury Manor by the late thirteenth
century and has continued its existence as a farm to the present day (Figure 6 and 6a).
The main elements of a manorial centre: the manor house, a mill, workers cottages
and old sheds, are or were recently readily identifiable and are described in the
Somerset Historic Environment Records (Appendix IV).

The stream which runs through the farm, continuing north through the fields, contains
numerous sluices, indicating the origin of the thick layer of alluvium which covers the
archaeological horizon beyond the farm yard. The low-lying fields to the north were
probably managed as water meadows, flooded every spring to enhance the fertility of
the soil. A consequence of this is that all of the archaeological features and deposits
enjoy an exceptional degree of preservation.

Last thoughts
The written sources relating to Carhampton are fragmentary and sometimes
ambiguous and the archaeological investigations were minimal. Nevertheless,
together they furnish evidence for settlement at Carhampton from at least the 4th/5th
century through to the 13th century and beyond. Even though partly disturbed by the
present farm complex, undisturbed settlement deposits extend into large areas within
and around the farm. In addition, the archaeological potential represented by the
many acres of landscape buried below meadow silts between Carhampton and
Minehead remains largely unexplored and unquantified.

In recognition of the importance of the site, the area around the evaluation trenches
has been designated by English Heritage as a scheduled monument (entry number
1013589). The list entry can be found in the Appendix.

The resource potential of the Carhampton area is great. This paper highlights only a
few of the issues of wide-spread interest that could be investigated further, the
foremost of which include:
the dating and nature of the oval enclosure boundary,
the date of the burials revealed in Trenches 2 and 3, north of the cemetery,
the nature of the minor buildings on the site, a type of ecclesiastical structure
rarely identified or investigated;
the likelihood that the burning and abandonment of activity in the area of Trench 8
being due to the Viking raids reported in ASC.

The archaeological evaluations and watching briefs were directed by Charles and
Nancy Hollinrake assisted by David Baker, Keith Faxon, Jan Groves, Sandy Coates
and John Mitchell. Thanks are due to Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong of Eastbury Farm and
to Mr. and Mrs. Howe of Sandmartin House for smiling through the disruption caused
to their properties. Les Shopland and other local inhabitants provided valuable
information and thanks also to Messrs. Patrick Rose and Raoul Walsh, agents for the
Crown Estate, for their interest and co-operation.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

We are grateful to Carl Thorpe and Ken Dark for identifying the imported pottery
sherds and to Chris Salter for his analysis of the metallurgical debris. A series of
environmental samples were assessed by Julie Jones. David Bromwich of the
Somerset Local Studies Library in Taunton tracked down obscure historical
references and the project monitor for Somerset County Council was Chris Webster
who also provided the SMR information. Dr Robert Dunning, Victoria County
History of Somerset, provided much information and advice. Many thanks are due to
the Dyved Archaeological Trust and the Cornish Archaeological Trust who supplied
their SMRs free of charge.

The excavations were funded by the Highways Department of Somerset County

Council and the compilation of the archive report was funded by W.S. Atkins.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

APPENDIX I: Radiocarbon dates

Four samples were chosen by Somerset County Council for radiocarbon 14

determinations, three from the medieval cemetery, and one from a charcoal-rich fill of
a ditch or gully in Trench 8, context 812. They were processed at Beta Analytic Inc.,
Miami, Florida, USA.
The samples from the cemetery were chosen on the basis of the earliest and
latest stratified bone, context 514 (the foundation cut for wall 504) and sk1
respectively, and a 'floating bone' in an early grave, context 524.
sample no. context Lab no. C14 (years BP +/- 1sig) Cal +/- 2sig
C93(1) 514 fast track sample 720 +/- 70 1160-1400AD
CE93(3) sk1 Beta-67218 380 +/- 70 1420-1650AD
CE93(4) 524 Beta-67219 540 +/- 70 1280-1460AD
CE93(14) 812 Beta-67210 1180 +/- 70 690- 980AD

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

APPENDIX II: Written sources

833 [836] Anglo-Saxon Chronicle In this year king Egbert fought against thirty-five
ships' companies at Carhampton; and great slaughter was made there, and the
Danes had possession of the place of slaughter.
840 [843] In this year king Aethelwulf fought at Carhampton against thirty-five ships'
companies and the Danes had possession of the place of slaughter.
899 King Alfred's Will. King Alfred bequeaths a number of estates including
Carhampton to his eldest son, Edward the Elder, with a clause asking the
community [hiwum] at Cheddar, "to choose him [Edward the Elder] on the
terms which we have already agreed on". (Finberg 1964, entry 127.)
904x925 King Edward the Elder grants to the monastic community at Ceodre
[Cheddar]...the estates of Compton Bishop and Banwell in exchange for
Carintone [Carhampton]. (Finberg 1964, entry 427.)
1086 Domesday Book - Somerset (C. and F. Thorn 1980)

entry 1.6: Lands of King William:

Williton, Cannington and Carhampton [Carentone]
King Edward held them. They have never paid tax, nor is it known how many
hides are there. Land for 100 ploughs.
It pays 100 116s 161/2d to the ora. Before 1066 it paid firma unius noctis.

Lands of the King's Clergy: entry 16.6

In the lands of Carhampton church lie 11/2 hides.
In lordship 11/2 ploughs & 1/2 hide with a priest, 1 villager and 8 smallholders
[who have] 1 hide & 11/2 ploughs. Pasture, 40 acres; woodland, 15 acres. 1
Value 30s;value when the Bishop died, 40s.
Bishop Peter held these two churches [Carhampton and North Petherton]; now they
are in the King's hands.

Entry 30.2: This manor [Oare] paid 12 sheep a year in customary dues to Carhampton,
a manor of the King's. Ralph [of Pomeroy] keeps back this customary due.

Entry 32.4: This manor [Allerford] paid 12 sheep a year in customary dues to
Carhampton, a manor of the King's. Ralph [of Limesy] has withheld this
customary due until now.

c. 1090 (or shortly after) 1st Vita of St. Carantoc written. (BM MS Cotton Vespasian
A XIV). (2nd Vita?)
c. 1180 Simon Bozun or Bosus, a military tenant of the Mohun family, granted the
two churches of Carhampton to Bishop Reginald of Bath. The income that
had formerly supported Osbern and Robert, who had served the two churches,
was thereafter shared. A priest named Walter became the first vicar of the
whole parish (Robert Dunning, pers.comm.; VCH Som. I, 471; HMC Wells, I,
1198 Grant by Prior of Bath to his clerk Gilbert Gemmel of the 'churches' of
Carhampton. "100s to the Canons of Wells; 2 marks to the Prior of Bath;
saving the vicarage, held by Walter." (SRO, DD/CC A 110025/14; HMC

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Wells, I, 29; W Hunt, (ed.), Cartularies of Bath Priory (Som. Rec. Soc. 7), (2)
p. 4, 189). Gilbert Gemmel from Bath, as rector, took most of the income
from both and paid 5 to Robert Bozun for his prebend in Wells Cathedral.
The priors of Bath succeeded Robert (Robert Dunning, pers. comm.)
1223-1261 The two churches made over to Dunster Priory by Bath Abbey in the time
of Prior Thomas (Chartularies of Bath Priory, (Som. Rec. Soc. 7), (2), p6-7).
1216-1272 By the time of Henry III (but after 1223, see above) the church at
Carhampton is mentioned in the singular in another grant. (Chartularies of
Bath Priory, (Som. Rec. Soc. 7), (2), p6-7).
1287 "John de Bretesche (at the time of his death, was seized of the manor of
Eastbury in Carhampton) died, leaving issue on sole daughter and heiress,
Joan, married to Roger, Lord Perceval, ancestor to the present Earl of
Egmont." (Savage, 302) This is the earliest record of Eastbury manor (Victoria
County History file).
1291 Valuation of the Deanery of Dunster (Tax. Eccl. 198): "
Church of Carhampton 3;
Pension of the Church of Wells, in the same, 5;
Vicarage of the same 4 13s 4d."
1312 Grant by William de Mohun of Carhampton of "a messuage in Carhampton
between the tenement of Sir Roger Perceval on the north [presumably
Eastbury Farm] and the King's highway which leads to the church of St.
Karentoc on the south." (SRO, DD/L P17/1/12. 10th Report of the Historical
MSS Commission, appx., part VI, p73).
1510 Dedication of the church of St. John the Baptist, Carhampton. (TNA, PROB
11/16, Somerset Records Society volume XIX, p142.)
1535-1543 Leland sees the Chapel of St. Carantoc "Carentun Parocha a Mile from
Dunster Castella. Carntoun is shortly spoken for Carantokes Towne, her yet is
a Chapel of the Sainct that sumtyme was the Paroche Chirche..." (Savage p46.
From the Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-46, Pt II, p167.)
1816 Eastbury Farm was purchased by the Luttrell family of Dunster Castle from
descendants of the Percival family. It is now a part of the Crown Estate.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

APPENDIX III: the Dark Age pottery

context type fabric description

1637 occupation spread Bi pale, creamy, soft fabric with sparse, very find grey grits;
pale pink inner surface, cream outer surface with rills 2mm
wide and 1-2mm apart
1638 upcast from South slightly everted rim, soft grey fabric with oxidised margins,
unidentified cut Devon very fine quartz inclusions and grey and black grits, less than
Ware 0.5mm diameter; micacious; slightly gritty grey surfaces,
with possible traces of a dark grey slip; 6mm thick
1649 occupation spread Bii soft oxidized buff-orange fabric with very fine white grits,
slightly micaceous; pitted surface with horizontal rilling c.
10-15mm apart; 8mm thick
1663 beam slot cutting Bii two joining sherds which join with the sherd from 1649
cobbles 1644
405 cobbles ?road Bii handle, pale buff fabric
1632 posthole E ware a hard-fired, wheel-turned fabric with rounded quartz
inclusions 1-2mm diameter and grog inclusions under 1mm.;
inner surface is pale brown and the outer surface is grayish

An E-ware sherd from Carhampton, Somerset

Dr. K. Dark
University of Reading

Among the ceramics found in the course of excavation adjacent to the parish church at
Carhampton, Somerset is a small body sherd of hard-fired wheel-turned pottery.
Initial inspection of the artefacts from the site by the excavators recognized it as an
atypical piece, but was unable to offer an identification or dating for it.

Further specialist opinion regarding the sherd was, therefore, sought by the
excavators. As a result of this, Dr. Ken Dark identified the sherd, on the basis of
macroscopic examination, as E-ware: a class of seventh (and perhaps late sixth)
century imported Frankish pottery found widely in Western Britain and Ireland, but
otherwise absent from Somerset.

Macroscopically, the sherd exhibits ancient breaks on four sides exposing the fabric,
while the two remaining sides clearly represent the interior and exterior of the pot.
The exterior is greyish-black (Munsell N2) with dark grey patches (N3) and the
interior is pale brown (5YR 6/2) with patches of yellow-brown (10YR 6/4). The
visible inclusions comprise glassy and milky rounded-well rounded (and to a much
lesser extent angular) quartz from 2mm to 1.3mm. in size, although with a hand lens
grog inclusions of under 1MM. are also visible. Some voids deriving from the
dislodging of rounded quartz grains are also visible, as well as more elongate voids
probably formed as part of the ceramic fabric itself.

Following his macroscopic identification of the sherd as E-ware, Dr. Dark organised
two independent petrological studies to seek confirmation of this, in view of the
potential significance of the sherd. First, the sherd was examined by Dr. Jill Eyres of
the Open University and then by Dr. David Williams of Southampton University.
Their results, which are closely comparable, are reported here in summary.

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Dr. Eyres took a thin-section of the sherd and examined this under plane polarised and
crossed polarised light. She notes the following features: the above inclusions are
confirmed, evenly distributed through the fabric and estimated as approximately 40-
45%. Their size range is 0.5mm to <63U (silt grade). Under polarized light, the thin-
section showed the fabric buff-brown with greenish-brown patches and orange-brown
or dark brown iron-staining which tends to be elongate. Dark coloration is more
pronounced around the outer edge, probably either as a result of firing or heating
while in use.

Under crossed polarized light Dr. Eyres found that the quartz had an undulose
extinction, and that 90% of more of the quartz grains were polycrystalline, with the
size and irregular contact of the sub-grain boundaries being typical of quartz derived
from quartzite. This may suggest a weathered quartzite source.

The description prepared by Dr. Eyres was then compared by Dr. Dark with published
accounts of the petrology of E-ware. They were found to conform closely with these.

Dr. Williams then examined the same thin-section. Examining this under a polarizing
microscope, he observes that the most common inclusions were ill-sorted grains of
subrounded quartz, some of them polycrystalline displaying undulose extinction,
ranging in size to 1.20 across. These are set in a fine-grained clay matrix, which also
contains some flecks of mica and a little iron oxide.

In a letter dated 20th February 1997, reporting his work to Dr. Dark, Dr. Willaims
concludes that: although the range of non-plastic inclusions is a fairly common, when
account is taken of their textures, the slide does compare very will with thin sections
from E-ware potteryon this evidence it is very likely that the Carhampton vessel
belongs to that group of post-Roman imported pottery at present called E-ware.

Both petrological examinations, therefore, produced strong evidence confirming Dr.

Darks identification of the sherd as E-ware. As such, there seems no reasonable
doubt of the identification.

The significance of the discovery of this sherd is, however, far beyond that which one
would normally assign to a single sherd. It is not simply a matter that E-ware has not
previously been found in Somerset despite the relatively large amount of fifth-seventh
century imported ceramic know from that county, but that several of the core
assumptions about the interpretation of this ware have placed much importance on its
absence from that county. Thus the discovery of an E-ware sherd in Somerset has far
wider archaeological implications for the archaeology of this period in Western

However, this note merely reports the sherd, and the grounds for its identification as
E-ware. The further implications of this discovery are to be discussed in the report on
the Carhampton excavation.
K.R. Dark
March 1997

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

APPENDIX IV: Archaeological sites

Bat's Castle (Figure 2)

MSO9082/ SM no 24002 SS 9881 4214
Also known as 'Caesar's Camp', these are the earthworks of the nearest Iron Age
hillfort, described by Burrow as: "A strongly defended univallate hillfort on a hill
crest. There are two entrances, facing east and west and askew to the trend of the
ridge, perhaps a defensive device. The west entrance is inturned and the ditch is very
steep and deep at this point. The east entrance is extremely unusual and from the air
photographs does not appear to be original. The inner banks are slightly inturned, but
the terminals of the ditch turn eastward for about 45m flanking a causeway 8m wide
at its inner end and 6m at the outer (eastern) end. The ramparts have been damaged
in several places and partly pushed forward into the ditch. 125m to the southeast is a
linear earthwork which follows a sinuous course across the ridge. Surface finds:
none. Excavations: none
Burrow classifies this 1 ha enclosure as Group I (larger enclosures in strong defensive
positions and with elaborate entrances; Burrow, 1981, p. 242.)

Six hundred metres to the northwest lies another, probably complimentary and
contemporary, enclosure:

Black Ball or British Camp (Figure 2)

33565/ MSO9410/ SM 24003 SS 984 426
An Iron Age univallate hill-slope enclosure on Gallax Hill in Dunster Park, just
visible from the ramparts of Bat's Castle. It measures 100m by 80m, defined by a
prominent bank 2.4m high with an external ditch 1.6m deep and a slight external
counterscarp bank. An entrance on the south-western side is defined by slight inturns
on the rampart terminals and by a causeway. On the southern side of the entrance is a
platform 5m wide which may be a hut stance. Surface finds: none. Excavations: none.
This small (0.3ha) earthwork is classified by Burrow as a Group IV enclosure (smaller
enclosures in locations not noted for their defensive potential; Burrow, 1981, p. 56.)

These two sites probably formed a working unit: Black Ball providing an observation
post for the area which could not easily be monitored from Bat's Castle. The latter
overlooks the coastal plain, including Dunster and Carhampton, and the shoreline
whilst Black Ball Camp is ideally situated to overlook the full length of the valley of
the River Avil, an obvious communications route from the coast at Dunster inland to
Exmoor At an unknown period both sites were abandoned and it is likely that many of
their functions were transferred to the site which became known as:

Dunster Castle (Figure 2)

SMR 34622/ SM Som. 469/ MSO9412
The Castle was already in existence (or in the process of construction) by the time of
the Domesday Survey, though the site may have been fortified before the Conquest.
The Domesday castle was a motte and bailey, the motte being constructed by major
reshaping of the existing tor, and the bailey being formed on a (perhaps) natural ledge
some 80 feet below the levelled summit.
There was a stone castle by 1138: a description in the mid 12th century Gesta
Stephani tell of "impregnable defences...inaccessible on the one side where it was
washed by the tide and very strongly fortified on the other by towers and walls, by a

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

rampart and outworks". No masonry of this date survives...The Castle continued to

become more elaborate in the Medieval period, with buildings proliferating in the
wards and at the foot of the Tor. A 1266 extent lists the following: in the upper ward -
a hall with buttery, pantry kitchen and bakehouse, a chapel, a knights' hall three
towers and a prison; in the lower ward, three towers and a granary; and below, near
the river and town - a cowhouse, stables, dovecote and dairy.
The Castle was served by a small harbour at its foot, now silted up, and several water-
powered mills. The former road to Carhampton can still be traced from the ford and
the later medieval packhorse bridge over the River Avil at Gallox Bridge, southeast of
the castle, eastwards through the 18th century park to Carhampton, following the
lower northern slopes of the hill which is crowned by Bat's Castle and Black Ball

Dunster town
MSO9461 SS 990 435
Dunster is mentioned in 1197, when 21 is received from the borough. In 1225, it is
represented as a borough by its own jury at the eyre. From 1254-1257, a charter of
Reginald de Mohum grants privileges to the burgesses. Dunster does not appear to
have been a town before the late 12th century. The Domesday Book indicates an
agricultural settlement, although the castle is mentioned. The borough was probably
established by the late 11th century - first reference is 1197 when it yielded 20. A
market was granted in 1222. It developed in the Middle Ages as a market centre,
harbour and cloth manufacturer. "Dunsters" was a type of cloth. The harbour was first
mentioned in 1183. By the 15th century it was being replaced by Minehead. In the
post medieval period, the town contracted from a 14th century maximum.

33712 ST 062 433

Daws Castle, Watchet (Figure 2)
Univallate hillfort, an uncertain proportion of which has been lost by coastal erosion.
The site was used as a council rubbish tip. The defences consist of a bank c2m high
(maximum) with a slight terrace in front on the SW side. On the E the defences are
barely traceable, but it seems clear that the modern road follows the line of the ditch
on this side. At the cliff top on the W side the rampart appears to branch into two, one
part turning E close to the top of the cliff and this may be the 20 yard length rampart
described by VCH, but the main line of the bank is continued as a scarp right to the
cliff top. At the E end of the site late C19 limekilns (PRN 30009) have also destroyed
the earthworks.
A number of E-W orientated graves were found in or near Daws Castle in the C19 and
are thought to be C5 and possibly of Irish origin. Remains were first found when
excavating for the limekilns (PRN 30009) and more bones were discovered later.
These were reinterred "higher up the field" by the charcoal burner.
Excavations were undertaken at Daws Castle (PRM 15181) by the Central Excavation
Unit of English Heritage in 1982. Two cuts were made through the bank which
revealed a shallow ditch marking out the defences and a low mortared wall, 0.7m
wide and 0.6m high, which probably served as a foundation for a parapet and
walkway. The defences were later replaced by a substantial wall 1.4m wide and c3m
high. There was a large bank at the rear and a ditch 1.5m wide in front. The first
defences are assigned to Alfred or Edward the Elder - burghal fort. The present
perimeter is c690 yards which accords well with the 705 yards given in the Burghal

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

Hideage. The refurbishment may be dated to the reign of Aethelred II. The coin series
indicates a date cAD980 for the opening of the mint (34209) which would have been
within the burh. In the interior the only feature was post medieval. The possible
minster nearby (34175) may add weight to the theory that the site was the Saxon burh.

Church of St. John the Baptist, Carhampton (Figure 6, 6a and 7)

34865 grid ref:ST00934266
Within churchyard. There is a C14 window in the vestry and the S. aisle is C15-16.
The present tower is modern but the earlier one was apparently C13. Two axe-dressed
stones near the tower indicate the possibility of an earlier (?Norman) nave. Listed
building description reads: "Parish church. Perpendicular, extensively restored, north
wall rebuilt 1862-3, tower rebuilt 1868-70 and vestry added. ...The road used to run
past the porch which may have accounted for the poor condition of the chest tombs in
the churchyard."

Churchyard cross
34809 grid ref:ST00924264
C14 cross in the churchyard at Carhampton. All that remains are the broken steps, the
socket and the stump of a shaft - all in a ruinous condition.

Chapel site (Figure 6, 6a and 7)

33449 grid ref: ST010 426/ST04SW
In the 1800's "a number of stones and cement" were dug up in an "orchard and
garden belonging to the vicarage, about 200 yards E of the present churchyard".
"Many human bones were found among the ruins as have many more in some parts of
the vicarage orchard, and also in an adjoining orchard belonging to Eastbury Farm,
where in cutting a deep drain, the workmen came across many human skeletons all
lying as if decently buried." Further burials were located in the vicarage garden during
landscaping in 1828. Savage interprets this as being the site of the chapel mentioned
by Leland.

Early Christian to medieval settlement and cemetery (Figure 6, 6a and 7)

33449? SM 27962 ST 0117 4271
Described in this paper.

Eastbury Manor (Figure 6, 6a and 7)

33457 ST0117 4271
Eastbury Manor was situated at the foot of Eastbury Hill. Earliest record is 1287 but
there is now a more modern farmhouse on the site. The site and remnants of the
medieval manor house is generally assumed to be represented by existing garage/old
stone building fronting the road west of Eastbury Cottages. The probable location of
the manorial complex should be immediately north of that building, within the present
farm complex (see Fig. 6a). Contained within the present farm complex were, until
recently, a variety of historic buildings including a cart shed and hayloft built on piers
(Dixon 1980). (35621 Farm building, Eastbury Farm).
Local knowledge has it that Eastbury Cottages once acted as the kitchen for the manor
house (Les Shopland, pers. comm.)

Ancillary buildings
Farm outbuilding at Eastbury ST 0119 4260 .

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

The building is now used as a barn but evidently was the early post-medieval
farmhouse, 16th century judging by the ceiling beam in the kitchen. At the east gable,
kitchen end, there was a spiral stair beside the stack as is common, and since it ceased
to be occupied this was modified to an external stair. At the same time the ground-
floor door was knocked through the back of the fire-place. The mason-mitred stair-
window is another indication of the 16th century. The rest of the plan presumably is
the typical cross-passage between the other two rooms of a 3-roomed house.
(Comments by Cm.. E.H.D. Williams.) (Dixon 1980)

Leat, millpond and associated farm waterwheel.

33456 ST 0122 4264
Site of an old water-mill, Eastbury Farm grid ref:ST0117 4271
There is a sluice and the foundations of a small building to be seen. demolished a few
years ago. (Information from the daughter of the occupier of the farm until 1965;
Dixon 1980)

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

English Heritage list entry

Name: Early Christian to medieval settlement and cemetery
List Entry Number: 1013589

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeolgical

Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of
national importance.

Reasons for Designation

Settlements dating to the fifth and sixth centuries are rarely identified in
western England due to the lack of distinctive artefacts. Those sites which are
identified on the basis of imported pottery are usually in defensive locations
and represent either high status sites or monastic establishments. Such sites
were never common and often survive poorly due to their continued use. The
centuries after the collapse of the Roman administration which saw the
establishment of kingdoms among the British and Anglo-Saxons are the most
poorly understood historical period in Britain. Any sites from this period that
survive substantially intact and undisturbed will be identified as nationally
important. The site at Carhampton contains well preserved remains of this date,
associated with metal-working. It also contains evidence of the continuing use
of the site by the earliest Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of the area and subsequent
medieval activity. The cemetery is likely to be associated with the earliest use
of the site and contain an important sequence of evidence relating to changes in
the population through time. The earlier remains are deeply buried, and
potentially waterlogged, and will contain evidence relating to the environment,
agriculture, diet and industry of the period.


The monument includes an occupation and metalworking site of the early

Christian to Saxon, or `Dark Age', period, and an associated cemetery
continuing in use into the medieval period. The site was revealed by excavation
and lies below the present day ground surface. On the north and west of the site
lies an area of occupation dated to at least the fifth to eight centuries AD.
Remains are preserved here of a metalworking site as well as settlement and
burials. Ditches, pathways and structural features such as postholes and mortar
layers were revealed by excavation, though the excavation trenches were too
narrow to allow the plan of any of these structures to be seen. The
metalworking hearths are on the east of the site, and quantities of metal slag
and charcoal are present. There is an indication that the hearths were
abandoned suddenly at the end of their use. From this phase were recovered
several sherds of pottery of a rare type dating to the late fifth or sixth centuries
AD. There is currently no evidence for pottery being made in Britain in these
centuries, and the only sherds found come from wares imported from places
such as the eastern Mediterranean. Such pottery is only found at a handful of
sites in Britain along the western coasts, and usually indicates either a place of
high status or perhaps an early monastic site. The remains become more

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

concentrated towards the east of the monument and it is thought that the main
part of the site lies below the area of the old Eastbury Farm buildings and by
the road. The settlement evidence which occurs in this area is covered by a
layer of occupation debris dating to the 13th century or earlier. It is likely that
the early settlement extends beneath the remaining areas of the site, though
excavations in these areas did not go below the later layers. The medieval
cemetery lies in the south west part of the site, in an area bounded to the north
by the wall of what is now the old vicarage garden. A large number of
skeletons were uncovered, interred in an east-west direction. Successive years
of burials had disturbed earlier graves, and later skeletons had become mixed
with those below. Amongst the 18 burials seen were those of a new-born child
and a juvenile, suggesting that the cemetery was being used for the general
population. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the latest burials are from the 12th
to the 16th centuries. Structural features were also present, some of which were
earlier than the burials, whilst others were integral to the cemetery towards the
latter period of its use. The wall between the vicarage garden and the paddock
to the north seems to correspond to the original boundary of the medieval
cemetery, whilst burials from the earlier period extend beyond this. The
boundary may thus be of some antiquity. Records from the 19th century tell of
skeletons being found over a wider area, between the vicarage and Eastbury
Farm. The number of burials in the cemetery is estimated at several hundred.
From about the 13th century onwards much of the site was used as water
meadow, enriched by deliberate flooding, and a thick layer of silty soil overlies
the remains. Documentary records show settlement here from at least the ninth
century. Carhampton may take its name from an early Christian saint, Carantoc.
Monastic legends written in the 11th/12th centuries tell how, centuries before,
Saint Carantoc built a church at Carhampton, and later a monastery and another
church, on land given to him by King Arthur. In the mid ninth century
Carhampton was raided twice by the Vikings, and the Saxon kings who fought
them were defeated. The area subsequently seems to have been taken into
Crown jurisdiction for reorganisation of the coastal defences, by King Alfred
and his son King Edward, and in Alfred's will of 899 he compensates monks at
Cheddar for the loss of Carhampton. By 1066 it was part of the royal lands of
Edward the Confessor, and in the Domesday Book compiled soon after the
Norman Conquest it is recorded as part of a grouping of several manors. There
were two churches here in the Norman period. In 1180 they were given to
Wells Cathedral, and later in the mid 13th century made over to Dunster priory.
One of the churches is the present Church of St John, a common dedication of
the 10th/11th centuries. The other was dedicated to St Carantoc, and may have
originally been the monastic church. By the late 13th century changes are
evident in the structure of the village. Only one church is mentioned, and the
first records of a number of small manors appear. One of these manors is
Eastbury, the manor house for which stood on the site of the present Eastbury
Farm. Archaeologically, this is the period when the boundaries of the medieval
cemetery appear to be defined, and the water meadow system was introduced
on the fields which now covered the rest of the site. The old church of St
Carantoc may have continued in use as a private chapel, as the antiquary
Leland in the 1540s records `a Chapel of this Sainct that sumtyme was the
Paroche Chirche'. There are no mentions of the church and cemetery after this
until the early 1800s when it seems that the building was gone and the location

Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

of the cemetery forgotten. Workmen digging in orchards and gardens between

the (old) vicarage and Eastbury Farm came across stone and cement `ruins' with
many human bones and skeletons `lying as if decently buried'. This was
interpreted as the site of Lelend's Chapel of St Carantoc. Excluded from the
scheduling are all modern structures and fence posts, though the ground
beneath these features is included.

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Carhampton, Eastbury Farm

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