Taunton Town Defences

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are earthwork remains

NameTaunton Town Defences
Alternative NamesEast Overton, Borough Bank
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishTaunton

A section of the Medieval town defences situated between Northgate and Eastgate in the northeast area of Taunton. The earthwork is located 70 metres north of the Church of St Mary Magdalene and formed part of the town defences comprising an earthen bank and ditch which encircled the town from the 11th- to the 13th century. The earthwork at Borough Bank is 50 metres long and aligned west-north-west to south-south-east. The bank is two metres high and 3.5 metres wide. The ditch continues beneath Canon Street car park and a building called 'The Chestnut Tree'. The earliest known reference to the defences comes from a document of 1158 which refers to a town ditch running from Northgate to Eastgate. The borough defences were remodelled from 1215-1216 and their courses possibly altered. It was not long however that these bank-and-ditch structures, possibly surmounted by a palisade, were used for other purposes. In 1290-1, Robert Amy paid one shilling for a plot of land on the 'ancient ditch of the town'. This process apparently continued in a piecemeal fashion until by the late 14th century the banks had ceased to be of any practical use, although the ditches remained vital to the town's drainage. This continued to be the case until the English Civil War began, when new defences were cast up. Excavations have identified defences to the northwest, northeast and southeast, while documentary evidence and topographical survey have been used to suggest the remaining probable lines of the defences. (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST220240
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 138
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 24, 39, 91, 158, 235, 257
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • Leach, Peter (ed), 1984, The Archaeology of Taunton: excavations and fieldwork to 1980 (Bristol: Western Archaeological Trust excavation monographs 8) p. 59-63
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 447
  • Bush, R. and Leach, P., 1977, Taunton: the Borough Defences (Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset)
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 199


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Leach, 1978, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 22 p. 177 download copy
  • 1972, CBA: Group 12 (Wessex) and Group 13 (South West): Archaeological review Vol. 7 p. 64
  • Taylor, R.F., 1967, Notes and queries for Somerset and Dorset Vol. 28 p. 333
  • Radford, C.A.Ralegh and Hallam, A.D., 1953, 'History of Taunton Castle' Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 98 p. 89-96

Primary Sources

  • Hunt, T.J., 1962, Customs of Taunton and Bradford on Tone (Somerset Record Society 66) pl. vii (record of payment of carpenters working on the enclosing of the town)