Burrow Mump

Coordinates: 51°04′06″N 2°55′14″W / 51.06840°N 2.92049°W / 51.06840; -2.92049
This is a good article. Click here for more information.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burrow Mump and St Michael's Church

Burrow Mump is a hill and historic site overlooking Southlake Moor in the village of Burrowbridge within the English county of Somerset. It is a scheduled monument, with a never completed church on top of the hill a Grade II listed building.

The hill stands at a strategic location overlooking the point where the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary join the River Parrett. Although there is some evidence of Roman visitation, the first fortification of the site was the construction of a Norman motte. It has been called King Alfred's Fort, however there is no proof of use by Alfred the Great. A medieval church was built on the hill in the 15th century. The current ruined church on top of the hill was built in 1793. The land and ruin were donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial.


Burrow Mump from the village of Burrowbridge

The hill is 24 metres (79 ft) high,[1] and stands at a strategic point where the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary join the River Parrett, above the surrounding low lying land of the Somerset Levels.[2] It is made of Triassic sandstone capped by Keuper marl ascribed to the Mercia Mudstone Group.[2][3]

Early use[edit]

Burrow Mump is also known as St Michael's Borough or Tutteyate.[4] Both words 'burrow' and 'mump' mean hill.[5]

Archaeological surveys have shown some Roman material including a piece of pottery[6] and coins found nearby which, possibly linked to its situation at a river junction, may indicate its use for trade.[7][8][9] Square pits, one of which may have been a well and post holes from the Middle Ages have been identified during excavations, these may have been from an adulterine castle.[10][11][12] It is likely that it was a Norman motte with a terraced track that spirals around the hill to reach it.[13] The plateau at the top is 45 metres (150 ft) by 25 metres (80 ft) and along with the scarped top of the slope formed the motte, which may have been formed during The Anarchy between 1135 and 1153.[11] The site has been called King Alfred's Fort, but there is no evidence of it being a fort[12] or having any link with Alfred the Great,[14] apart from its ownership by the nearby Athelney Abbey which he established and was linked to Burrow Mump by a causeway.[15][16][17] It may have served as a natural outwork to the defended royal island of Athelney at the end of the 9th century.[18]

Excavations have shown evidence of a 12th-century masonry building on the top of the hill, which may be from the probable adulterine castle.[6] The side of the mound may have been terraced for agricultural use due to much of the surrounding land flooded on a regular basis during the medieval period.[15]

The ruins of St Michael's Church on top of Burrow Mump

The first recorded writing mentioning this site is from William Worcester in about 1480 when he referred to it as Myghell-borough. A medieval church dedicated to St Michael, belonging to the Athelney Abbey,[19] dates from at least the mid-15th century. This formed a sanctuary for royalist troops in 1642 and 1645 during the English Civil War,[20] and a detachment of the king's army occupied it in 1685 during the course of the Monmouth Rebellion.[14]

18th century rebuilding[edit]

In 1793, the church was rebuilt with a west tower, 3-bay nave and south porch, in squared and coursed lias with red brick and Hamstone dressings.[11] The attempt at total rebuilding ended in failure to collect enough money, despite donations from William Pitt the Younger and Admiral Hood,[13] and a church for the community was built instead at the foot of the hill (Burrowbridge) in 1838.[11] In the mid 20th century the ruin on Burrow Mump underwent some repairs to the north west corner.[11]

The ruined church is one of the churches dedicated to St. Michael that falls on a ley line proposed by John Michell. Other connected St. Michaels on the ley line include churches built at Othery and Glastonbury Tor.[21]


Memorial plaque

The site of 3.573 hectares (8.83 acres) including the hill and ruined church were presented, in 1946, by Major Alexander Gould Barrett,[22] to the National Trust and serve as a memorial to the 11,281[23] Somerset men who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.[24] The National Trust was taken to court for nuisance after soil from Burrow Mump slipped onto a neighbouring farmer's land.[25] The ruin was classified as a Grade II listed building in 1963.[26] It has been a Scheduled monument since 1949.[11]


  1. ^ "Burrow Mump". European Garden Heritage Network. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b Hawkins 1982, p. 16.
  3. ^ "Geology of Britain viewer". British Geological Survey. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Burrow Mump". The Gatehouse. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  5. ^ Philip Coppens. "Glastonbury: England's oldest sacred landscape?". Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b "The Burrow Mump Excavations". Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser. 22 April 1939. Retrieved 22 January 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ Jenkins, Palden. "Burrowbridge Mump". Palden Jenkins. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Burrow Mump, Burrowbridge". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Roman coin hoard, Burrow Wall Rhyne, Burrowbridge". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Ouncil. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Burrow Mump, Burrowbridge". Gatehouse. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Historic England. "Burrow Mump: a motte castle, later chapel and associated earthworks (1011823)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  12. ^ a b Historic England. "Burrow Mump (192181)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Burrow Mump, Burrowbridge". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  14. ^ a b Adkins 1992, pp. 32–33.
  15. ^ a b "Report for Aerial Survey Component Block 2: Somerset Levels" (PDF). The Aggregate Landscape of Somerset: Predicting the Archaeological Resource. English Heritage. pp. 24–25. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Burrow Mump". European Garden Heritage Network. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  17. ^ Williams & Williams 1992, p. 44.
  18. ^ Interpretive signs at the foot of Burrow Mump & brochure/map (Map). National Trust, Levels and Moors Partnership.
  19. ^ Hawkins 1982, pp. 121–122.
  20. ^ Quinn 2008, pp. 22–23.
  21. ^ "The St. Michael's Ley, England". Ancient-Wisdom. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Acquisitions Up to December 2011". National Trust. p. 6. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  23. ^ Dunning 1983, p. 101.
  24. ^ Leete-Hodge 1985, p. 82.
  25. ^ Fea, Vivennne (1981). "Means Test Liability: The Subjective Standard of Care in Nuisance". Otago Law Review. 417.
  26. ^ Historic England. "Remains of Church on Burrow Mump (1344609)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 April 2015.


External links[edit]

  • "Burrow Mump" - a 360° panoramic view from the top of Burrow Mump

51°04′06″N 2°55′14″W / 51.06840°N 2.92049°W / 51.06840; -2.92049