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 Anglo-Saxon fortified centre at Eashing survives well, and has remained
largely free of subsequent development. It will therefore retain
archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the construction
and original use of the monument.
The monument includes a fortified centre, or burghal fort, situated within the
Surrey Hills on a sandstone promontory which overlooks, and forms part of the
eastern bank of, the River Wey. The fortified centre, which protected a
contemporary river crossing superseded by the later medieval Eashing Bridge,
survives in the form of earthworks and below ground archaeological features.
It covers a roughly rectangular, north east-south west aligned area of
approximately 8ha. The steeply-sloping ground on the western side of the
monument precluded the need for substantial artificial defences, but a
terraced walkway, affording views towards the bridge and the lower-lying land
to the west, survives along the edge of the promontory. Visible traces of
ramparts survive as a low, spread bank along the south eastern side of the
monument. An engineered track which runs up from the bridge along the natural
river cliff to the north western corner of the burh is interpreted as an
original access route.
Buried traces of the church, dwellings, burgage plots and other buildings,
structures and features associated with the original occupation of the
fortifed centre, can be expected to survive within the interior. Past modern
ploughing of the eastern part of the monument, and the construction of an
electricity substation and two later houses and gardens, will have caused
some disturbance to this area.
The fortified centre of Eashing (known originally as Escingum) is listed in
the tenth century document known as the Burghal Hidage. The burh is believed
to have been in use for a relatively short period, from around AD 880-930,
when it was replaced as the regional centre by Guildford, 7km to the north
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are Birdfield and
Dean Cottage, the latter is Listed Grade II, their associated outbuildings,
cesspits, garden furniture and ornaments, all modern field and garden
boundaries, all gates, telegraph poles, the electricity substation and all
road, hard-standing and path surfaces, although the ground beneath all these
features is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.