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BOROUGH BANK

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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 (See HOB UID 190846, ST 22 SW 48). 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.

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