There is no evidence for the oft repeated claim that Somerton was the capital of Wessex but it was an important town as the Witan met there in 949. In 1278 the shire courts were moved there from Ilchester and in 1280 the county gaol was sited in Somerton. However, in 1366 the court moved back to Ilchester and Somerton gaol ceased to be the county prison by 1371. So ended Somerton’s brief period as the county town.
It remained a small market town and is today an attractive and flourishing little town with a variety of independent shops, private and public services, four churches and several public houses, and cafes despite its proximity to Langport and Ilchester. The railway cuts through the heart of the town but there is no longer a station, however most road traffic has been diverted away from the centre and its many historic buildings.
See volume 3 of the Victoria County history of Somerset for a full history.