Glastonbury lake village
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006156
Date first listed: 27-Feb-1976
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 49286 40757
Lake village 490m south east of Long Run Farm known as Glastonbury Lake Village.
Reasons for Designation
The lake village, also known as a ‘crannog’ is an artificial island usually built in lakes, marshes, rivers and estuaries and used as a settlement from prehistoric to medieval times. The classic examples are either natural islands defended by an artificial palisade topped with a round house or a small shoal or rise surrounded by wooden piles onto which an entirely artificial raised platform was created. In the latter case wooden piles, usually of oak with sharpened bases were driven into the ground and interwoven with branches or wattle to form a type of coffer dam. Within the dam logs, stones, clay, peat and soil were piled to create an interior surface platform. Above this dwellings were constructed, sometimes single houses or often groups of dwellings. The dwellings are often characterised by a central stone-built hearth. These artificial islands were accessed either by causeways, wooden gangways often raised on piles or by boat.
The earliest examples date to the late Mesolithic and are found in Ireland. Neolithic examples also occur in Scotland but the majority date to the Iron Age and some continued in use to the medieval period. They are found across Europe particularly in Switzerland, Germany, France, Ireland where at least 2000 are known and Scotland where they number approximately 600. They do also occur in England with a notable example being Glastonbury Lake Village and several others are clustered in this region. The preservation of artefacts in often soaking conditions can be superb and they contain large amounts of environmental evidence such as wood, grains and pollen. They provide a rare and often exceptional insight into daily life. The lake village 490m south east of Long Run Farm known as Glastonbury Lake Village, has produced an extremely detailed insight into daily life and the activities associated with many aspects of industry, trade, fashion, agricultural practices, fishing, social organisation and domestic arrangements. Its importance for understanding more about this period of prehistory cannot be overemphasised.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 20 August 2015. This 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.
This monument includes a lake village, known locally as Glastonbury Lake Village, situated on low lying land between the junction of the ‘Godney Road’ and ‘Great Withy Drove’ and immediately north of the Great Withy Rhyne. The lake village survives chiefly as buried deposits, layers and structures with a series of low mounds as visible earthworks. Extensively excavated by Bulleid and Gray from 1892-1908 the lake village provided a detailed insight into the development and function of the settlement through time with many aspects of daily life readily preserved. The findings from the original excavations have since been re-interpreted. The earliest settlement consisted of a number of rectangular timber framed buildings built on piles. The occupants were thought to be wood workers and farmers since the assemblages of finds associated with them included lathes, wheeled vehicles, an iron plough, a currency bar of iron, a key and a fine bronze decorated bowl. The occupation appeared to be from around 150-60 BC. Following a period of abandonment, this settlement was superseded by a larger one consisting of up to 60 circular timber houses with wattle and daub walls, built within a crannog of brushwood and timber, with successive clay floors and defended by a stout timber palisade. The houses varied in diameter from 4m up to 12m and the central clay hearths were often replaced in stone. Stone paths connected the dwellings and on the eastern side was a causeway with a timber built landing stage. This second phase produced vast quantities of associated pottery, and the occupiers used looms, worked bone and antler and smelted bronze, but no ploughs or wheeled vehicles were associated with them however, dug out log boats were found. Occupation finally ended in around 50 AD. The vast quantity of finds connected with the settlements concerned many aspects of daily life including agriculture, weaving, fishing, metallurgy and personal ornamentation. Objects included lead fishing weights, glass slag and beads, amber beads, bone dice, a jet ring, objects made from Kimmeridge Shale, bars of lead and tin, needles, pins, tweezers, armlets, fasteners, awls, harness loops, brooches, rings, a dagger sheath, sickles, adzes, bill-hooks, knives, files, latch lifters, spindle whorls, loom weights, sling pellets, crucibles, tools of various kinds, bone and antler implements and wooden artefacts including a ladder, a perforated ladle, handles for various implements, a wheel spoke and spoons. Huge amounts of pottery were also recovered some of which was highly decorated. Popular traditions suggested the settlement had ceased because of a massacre or devastating fire, but excavations showed neither were correct and was more likely to have been caused by increased flooding. Nearby in 1976 prehistoric and Roman hurdles, trackways and platforms were discovered during peat cutting which also contained palaeo-botanical and entomological evidence and although not directly associated with the settlement indicates the richness of the available resources for subsistence and exploitation of various kinds.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: SO 406
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-194156 and 194268
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