Locality and Region Seminar - 19 February 2019

19 February, 2019 - 17:15
IHR, Room 304

We hope you will join us for the next Locality and Region seminar on Tuesday 19 February 2019.

The Life and Death of a Medieval Port: Dunster, Somerset

Dr Adam Chapman

Lecturer in Medieval History and Editorial Coordinator – Victoria County History


The medieval castle and borough of Dunster are among the best known in England and formed the seat of the Mohun and Luttrell families from the Norman Conquest to the middle of the 20th century. Dunster is not, however, a town now obviously associated with the sea, the nearest harbours being Minehead and Watchet. The haven at the mouth of the river Avill, which survives today as a marshy area called the Hawn, was once the focus of the economic life of the town and defined west Somerset’s relations with the wider world including trade up and down the Severn sea.

This paper will discuss the importance of this small inlet for the development of royal and seigniorial authority either side of Conquest and in the development of Dunster as a commercial and lordly focus until the port was closed by the lords of Dunster but at the instigation of the community of Minehead in the 16th century. It will examine the nature of coastal trade – in which the sea formed a thoroughfare rather than an apparent barrier – and will draw together documentary evidence with the archaeological record for the port and associated standing buildings showing how the presence of the port shaped the town and surrounding landscape of Dunster.



More details about the Locality and Region Seminar including the programme for the rest of this term can found here.