Saxon defences


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Tamworth (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 20506 03876, SK 20936 04320


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

Reasons for Designation

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.


See 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ST 195
Legacy System:


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


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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