Known as an area prone to flooding and also home to for remarkable wildlife including the rare Hen Harrier, this ruined church is in a part of south-west England that can too easily be bypassed as people make their way to the Devon and Cornwall coast.
Burrow Mump overlooks Southlake Moor which forms part of the Somerset Levels. St Michael’s Church, stands isolated and alone at the top. The church was built in the 15th century and has been witness to a number of conflicts. In 1645 Royalist soldiers escaping after the Battle of Langport took refuge in the church. Holding out for three days one of the soldiers died from a musket wound and his body was laid to rest in the church. Forty years later the church was once again under siege when royal troops took the land during the Monmouth Rebellion.
In 1793, St Michael’s was rebuilt consisting of a west tower, a three bay nave and a south porch. The church as it stands today is not how it would have looked in its original state. In the 19th century the ruins were given a ‘facelift’ when the fashion was for romantic follies. The church belonged to Athelney Abbey.
Archaeological digs around the ‘Mump’ have unearthed Roman artefacts and three medieval pits. A Norman motte is thought to have been built on the site with a terraced track going around the hill. The site is also known as ‘King Alfred’s Fort’ but no evidence has been found of a fort ever being on the site or a link to Alfred the Great other than the association with Athelney Abbey founded by him.
Remains have been found at the top of the hill of buildings dating back to the 12th century and the side of the mound might have been used for agricultural as the lower land flooded during medieval times. The first recorded written work about the site was in about 1480 when the English chronicler and antiquary William Worcester, referred to it as Myghell-borough.
St Michael’s Church is situated in an isolated spot close to the small village of Burrowbridge. The location is ideal for taking a leisurely stroll around the village but visiting the church will be a little more strenuous although nothing more difficult than regular ramblers will be used to.
The Somerset Levels offer a unique environment for some of the birds that can be seen in the area. In winter thousands of migrant wetland birds such as wigeon and teal make it their home.
In the 20th century the site was donated to the National Trust as a war memorial and it has been developed as a tourist attraction with free parking facilities situated at the base of the hill. Visitors reaching the top are rewarded by the spectacular views that can be seen all around on clear days.
The church is said to be built on the junction of several ley lines and unexplained activity has been recorded in the ruins by some visitors using dowsing rods. Paranormal enthusiast claim to have experienced rapid and unexplained changes in temperature and the appearance of ‘orbs’ when using certain kinds of photography.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Mendip Heights, Townsend Lane, Priddy Wells
Somerset, England, BA5 3BP
+44 (0)1749 870 241
- Address: Burrow Wall Road, Burrow Bridge, Somerset, England, United Kingdom, TA7 0RB
- GPS: 51.0705,-2.91615
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: TA7 0RB
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: None
- Visibility from Road: Very good - from a distance
- Image Credits: Header Image: Stephen Clarke