The ruined St Columbanus Chapel
|Location||Cheddar, Somerset, England|
|Official name: Roman settlement site, Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal palace, and St Columbanus' Chapel|
|Designated||16 December 1999|
|Official name: Former chapel dedicated to St Columbanus|
|Designated||29 January 1985|
The Cheddar Palace was established in the 9th century, in Cheddar, Somerset, England. It was a royal hunting lodge in the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods and hosted the Witenagemot in the 10th century.
Nearby are the ruins of the 14th century St Columbanus Chapel. Roman artifacts and a burial have also been discovered. The site of the palace is now marked by concrete slabs within the grounds of The Kings of Wessex Academy.
A wooden "great hall" was constructed around the reign of King Alfred the Great (died 899 AD) and the "community at Cheddar" received a special mention in his will. At this time the building served as a minster. It was rebuilt around 930 and a chapel and other buildings were added, becoming a royal hunting lodge.
During the Saxon period, it was used on three occasions in the 10th century to host the Witenagemot, an assembly of powerful figures, in 941, 956 and 968, probably for Æthelstan and Edgar the Peaceful. There is documentary evidence that Henry I visited the palace in 1121 and 1130 and Henry II in 1158. Several expansions of the site took place between the Saxon and medieval eras.
St Columbanus Chapel
Next to the site are ruins of a 14th-century chapel dedicated to St. Columbanus. It stands on a site originally built on in the 10th century and enlarged in the 11th. In the 17th century it became a private dwelling that survived until 1910.
The building was octagonal in plan. End walls remain standing and are supported by diagonal corner buttresses; however the north and south walls are now only approximately 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) high.
In January 2006, during the building of a new languages block at the school, a grave, believed to be Roman, was uncovered. The grave contained the skeleton of a man, believed to be around 50 years old and pagan rather than Christian due to the north-south orientation of the grave.
Various Roman artifacts, including wall plaster and tesserae, dating from the 1st to the 4th centuries have also been found. It has been suggested that this may be linked with the settlement of Iscalis, whose location is unknown.
- Historic England. "Roman settlement site, Anglo-Saxon and Norman royal palace, and St Columbanus' Chapel (1017290)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
- Historic England. "Former chapel dedicated to St Columbanus, now ruin, in the grounds of Kings of Wessex School (1173737)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
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- Blair, John (December 1996). "Palaces or minsters? Northampton and Cheddar reconsidered". Anglo-Saxon England. 25: 97–121. doi:10.1017/S0263675100001964.
- Barton, Kenneth James (1963). "A Medieval Pottery Kiln at Ham Green, Bristol" (PDF). Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. 82: 95–126.
- "Former chapel dedicated to St Columbanus". historicengland.org.uk. Historic England. Retrieved 31 March 2008.
- "Cheddar Palace excavation (1960, 1961, 1962), Cheddar". Somerset Historic Environment Record. South West Heritage Trust. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "School dig uncovers Roman grave". BBC News. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
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