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Saxon defences

A Scheduled Monument in Castle, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6335 / 52°38'0"N

Longitude: -1.6965 / 1°41'47"W

OS Eastings: 420639.874363

OS Northings: 304014.464703

OS Grid: SK206040

Mapcode National: GBR 4FD.XKC

Mapcode Global: WHCH3.X2BF

Entry Name: Saxon defences

Scheduled Date: 14 May 1969

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006088

English Heritage Legacy ID: ST 195

County: Staffordshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle

Built-Up Area: Tamworth

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Tamworth St Editha

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Summary

Remains of an Anglo-Saxon burh and the later medieval defences of Tamworth.

Source: Historic England

Details

This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 July 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes two small sections of the Anglo-Saxon burh and later medieval defences of Tamworth. It is situated on a spur of land which overlooks the confluence of the rivers Tame and Anker to the south. Buried remains and traces of earthworks survive at the south west and north east corners of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval defences which enclosed an area of up to 25 hectares. Its western boundary ran east of Orchard Street, its northern boundary ran south of Albert Road and its eastern boundary ran approximately on the line of Marmion Street, with the rivers Anker and Tame possibly acting as its southern defensive barrier. Excavations have revealed defences of a timber framed turf rampart and ditch, constructed during Aethelflaed’s reign in AD 913 over pre-existing defences possibly dating to the reign of Offa in the late eighth century, followed by later Norman bank and ditch defences crowned by a defensive wall along the same alignment. Further archaeological remains of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval town defences survive but are not included within this scheduling.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Anglo-Saxon centres, usually known as burhs, are defended urban areas that are characterised by a planned, ordered layout, sometimes including a regular grid of streets. They date mainly from the late ninth century AD, as King Alfred's response to the threat of Danish invasion. There are some earlier, eighth century examples in the kingdom of Mercia. They include large towns covering around 58ha, and smaller forts ranging in size from 1ha-9.5ha. Their defences are usually either restored Roman town walls or newly built earthen ramparts. Documentary evidence suggests that mints and markets were established in most of the larger centres. Many of the larger fortified centres now lie beneath modern cities or towns, but strong traces of their layout usually survive in the modern street plan. Most original buildings, including churches, dwellings and outbuildings, were simple timber structures, traces of which may survive in the form of fragile below ground features such as post holes, sill-beam slots and pits. Other contemporary features include water supply and drainage systems, burgage plot boundaries, middens and street furniture. A few of the smaller burghal forts were short-lived and have remained largely undisturbed by subsequent development since their abandonment. Fortified centres are a rare monument type with around 90 identified examples across southern, eastern and central England. The greatest concentration lies within the late Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, and they cluster in areas with favoured royal residences such as Somerset and Wiltshire. They are a comparatively well documented monument class, with 35 fortified centres of Wessex listed in the Burghal Hidage, a document which dates to the early tenth century AD. They are one of the earliest groups of planned medieval towns in western Europe. All examples with significant remains are considered to be of national importance.

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon burh and later medieval defences of Tamworth survive as slight earthworks and buried archaeological deposits and features which will provide information relating to the development and nature of the Anglo-Saxon and subsequent medieval town defences.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
HER: 00190, 01316 and 01318, NMR: SK20SW8, Pastscape: 309940 and NMR: SK20SW35, Pastscape: 309948

Source: Historic England

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