William of Malmesbury\'s Perambulation

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There is no doubt that the original boundaries must have been much smaller. “XII. Hides” could never been more than three square miles, which is less than half the area of the present borough. But the boundaries were pretty well established by the beginning of the Middle Ages, and we can see from the following document to what extent they varied.
John of Glastonbury, whose history ends with the death of Richard Bere’s predecessor (who “migrated to the Lord in the 37th year of his abbacy,” A.D. 1493) himself gives a short account of the boundaries of the XII. Hides and of the places within the said boundaries, Vol. L, at pp. 13-16; but these accounts are themselves copies of two much earlier accounts, and agree almost word for word with the two similar accounts given in William of Malmesbury’s short account of Glastonbury Abbey before the Conquest, written 400 years before Richard Bere’s time (Adam of Domerham, Vol. I., at pp. 105-110).


 William's text has been a good deal added to, but nothing in Adam can be later than A.D. 1290, in which year his history ends with the death of Abbot John of Taunton “of the old trouble” at Michaelmas. The following account is therefore at least 200 years older than John of Glastonbury and Abbot Bere.
William of Malmesbury's Perambulation


From Brutash, near the South end of Street bridge, eastwards along the South of the marsh to the South end of Baltonsborough bridge in the Northern part of the property of Wulgar-with-a-beard, who built the said bridge in St. Dunstan's time.

Over the causeway to Pinslake, over the marsh to Norman’s house by Baltonsborough mill. Up the road to the path from Baltons­borough Church, up to the Holt and to the stile in the North part of Oscar-at-a-Holt’s domain. Then along a path which leads through the far end of the said Holt to Kennard bridge and Dunstan’s ditch. So to the brook which comes from Colebury, and up-stream to the house of Osward de la Burn. Up-hill and up-stream to the great house of Aylmer, Seneschal of Bradley. Up again from the Burn to the road in front of the property, South of Bradley Church, Eastward to Stoke along the high-way. Up-hill to Whitelee, to the path South of Charlbury, and along another path to Windgate.

Then to the boundaries of Beckenham and Farley, and down-hill through Pilton Park over the road which comes up from Stean Bow to the path that leads to Wootton, along another path to Fulebroc, South of Wootton Church across the stream to Lossell Gate and down on to the moor to Hochye. Over the moor to Soweie (? Sowere), to the boundary ditch North of Bachyn-weir. Along the bank and along the old water-course to Bleadney bridge, down-stream over the bridge to Little Hay, which is the boundary of Marchey. Round Marchey to Sadelby, along the bank and along the water-course to the ditch between Stoke moor and Whitesham. So to Wynnard-lake, and along the boundary between Nyland and Draycot, up-hill to the old boundary-stone.

Then to Weare-path, down-hill to Upper Batcombe, along the Cheddar boundary to Greenball and so to Little-lake-way. Then to Ymerthynel, and straight through the alders to the old withy boundary. On to Monken-leigh, all the coverts belonging to Cheddar and the open land to Glastonbury. To a trench called Betweenen-orde and on to Sharp-orde, all the coverts to the North belonging to Glas­tonbury, and the open land to the West to Cheddar.

Then to Notpull, the coverts belonging to Glastonbury and the open land to Cheddar. Then to the river Yeo and down-stream to Clewer, and along Abbotsditch to Langeby. So to the big River and along it up-stream and East away up-hill to the boundaries of Wedmore and Northload and to Tunsing-weir. From there to Kipmere and Middlemead and beyond the hill to Calsham. From there to Lychlake, and over the moor to the boundaries of Meare and Polden. Along those boundaries Eastwards, South of the moor, up under Sharpham and Houndwood, and East over to Brutash from which we started.


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