aka St Michael's Borough, Tutteyate, King Alfred's Fort or the Murch as we like to call it
Burrow Bridge, Taunton, Somerset, England
Why this place? Isn't it just a boring old wreck of a church on a hill? Or is it???
Top Reasons to go:
I suppose in a way it sort of is, sort of...
For me in particular it's much more than that. I first spotted this interesting boring church ruin on a hill many years ago when I was a student at Uni. I was on my way to visit my boyfriend (at the time) in Devon, when I spotted this strange steep hill with a bit of something on top from the train. None of the other passengers near me knew what it was and neither did the aforementioned boyfriend. Despite his lack of strange hilltop archeology, the relationship persisted a number of years and I whizzed by the bizarre structure any number of times on the train, each time trying to get a better look at what it might be. In that time I never gained any further knowledge about the place so naturally the relationship came to an end and my investigations by British Rail ceased.
Many many years passed and the internet improved and the quality of boyfriend substantially improved. I'm not sure how it got brought up but at some point I recalled the story of the hilltop oddity to my latest boyfriend. This newer model proved his merit by following the train line from London to Devon (at this point so many years had passed I couldn't quite remember what stations where near the place) and showing me pictures of various locations that might match my hazy description. Finally (it was final because we weren't looking after he'd found it), he showed me the image of a great mound in Somerset with an old wreck of a church on top and I knew that this was the place at long last. We affectionately renamed it the "Murch" being the church on the mump. Mump...what a great word for hill.
If his internet prowess wasn't enough to convince me of his undying love and worthiness of husband material status, then the fact that he took me to the mysterious location a short time after he uncovered its location. So I married him.
See not just a boring old church on a hill after all.
Still want more?
Some interesting facts:
It seems that no one truly knows when there was first a structure on this hill. Possibly as early as the 10th century as perhaps a Norman motte, some suggest a fort was here in the time of Alfred the Great. There has been evidence of Roman settlements in the area as well.
Some of the current ruins are from around the 15th century, with the tower having been built in 1793. This is where I think the story turns somewhat amusing. Apparently it was never fully restored at this time as they weren't able to collect sufficient funds. Yet somehow there was enough money to build a new church at the foot of the hill. Let's think on this for a moment, donate to rebuilding the church way up at the top of a very steep hill that one would have to climb at the very least once a week for Sunday services or fund a nice little convenient church at the base of the hill near the pub. Put that to a local vote and the poor fate of the Murch is sealed.
On the mystical side, the mound is in an area where multiple ley lines converge. Apparentlty one leads directly to Glastonbury Abbey, another tor (high hill) that is home to another ruined religious structure of reputed Arthurian, Druidy, Templar type paranormal stuff. If you are a believer in such things (I myself am never sure where I stand on these matters, but tend to lean towards believing in some myths and legends just because I so want to live in a world where they are true), so if you do believe in these sorts of things, one does have to wonder the original purpose of these odd very very steep hills that crop up out of nowhere. I do love a good mystery.
Hours of Operation & Fees
Open Year Round
Who could ask for more?
It might be too much of a climb for very young children and the pram is certainly not going to make it (there's no disabled wheelchair access either unless you have a seriously strong and determined helper). If you have the grit and determination you could make it with some sort of baby wearing carrier.
Bring a picnic and enjoy the view!
Remember you are in the country:
So if the Mump to climb you choose,
You must wisely select a pair of shoes,
That you don't wish ruined by sheep do dooos!
Oh I am a poet....