Ancient Monuments

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Early Christian settlement and monastic site at Marchey Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Godney, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2129 / 51°12'46"N

Longitude: -2.7464 / 2°44'47"W

OS Eastings: 347958.4513

OS Northings: 146229.720081

OS Grid: ST479462

Mapcode National: GBR MJ.3VBS

Mapcode Global: VH89Q.BSY2

Entry Name: Early Christian settlement and monastic site at Marchey Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 October 1976

Last Amended: 9 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011266

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22808

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Godney

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a series of earthworks, defined by a substantial ditch
and accompanying bank to the south, representing an early Christian settlement
and monastic site with evidence for earlier Roman and later medieval
occupation, situated on level ground east of the Lower River Axe in the
Somerset Levels. The monument occupies an elevated area which, before the
modern draining of the Levels, was an island known as Martinsey or Martin's
The earthwork remains include an enclosing ditch and bank and rectangular
platform thought to be the site of a chapel. The ditch is visible at the south
of the monument as a depression c.35m wide and c.0.4m deep with an
accompanying external bank, both running in a broad sweep from the Lower River
Axe in the west, eastwards around the south side of the island. This feature
is interpreted as the enclosing ditch of pre-tenth century monastic enclosure
and can be compared with similar examples surrounding early Irish and British
monastic sites. Early documentary references record a religious settlement on
the site with a chapel dedicated to St Martin. The rectangular platform in the
northern part of the monument has been identified as the likely site of the
In addition to the early Christian settlement, Martinsey is also known
to have had early connections with Glastonbury Abbey, a fishery having been
established on the site by AD 1189.
Evidence for the earlier and subsequent occupation of the site came in the
form of pottery recovered during the cleaning of drainage ditches within the
monument in 1977. Romano-British pottery was plentiful, including samian,
black burnished, Rhenish and local wares, as was Saxon, medieval and post-
medieval pottery. Roman pottery has also been recovered from other parts of
the site, as have Roman roof slates, suggesting permanent occupation.
The post-medieval pottery most probably relates to the farmhouse and
outbuilding of Marchey Farm which are situated at the north of the site and
are believed to date to between c. AD 1500 and 1600. These are now ruined
The ruined farm buildings, are excluded from the scheduling, although the
underlying ground is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Marchey Farm is a rare example of an early Christian enclosure which also
contains evidence for earlier and later occupation in the Roman and medieval
Sites associated with the early church take a variety of forms, a common one
being the use of circular enclosures to define the sanctified area. Larger
circular enclosures were constructed to form the boundary of monastic sites;
smaller enclosures were created to define burial grounds or to surround small
chapels or hermitages. The size of the Marchey Farm site, combined with
documentary records linking the site with Glastonbury Abbey and analogy with
similar sites elsewhere, suggest that the enclosure was monastic.
Early Christian enclosures of this type were never common. They rarely
survive well as frequently the continued use of a site for later religious
activity led to the destruction of early remains through rebuilding. Any
examples which do survive substantially intact and undisturbed will be
identified as nationally important.
The Marchey Farm settlement and monastic site survives with upstanding
earthwork remains. Its riverside location provides the opportunity for the
survival of waterlogged deposits which will contain evidence for the landscape
in which the site was located and the economy of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Batt, M C, 'Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Soc' in Marchey Farm, Wookey: An Early Christian Earthwork?, , Vol. 124, (1980)
Mention of fishery at Marchay, Gibbs, R, Marchey Catalogue, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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