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The Twin Tumps of Chanstone

by Steve Edwards
A prominent flat-topped mound near Chanstone Mill, Vowchurch, is clearly visible from the B4347. It is matched on the other side of the River Dore by another series of mounds, although they are less clearly defined. The article relates the results of an internet search to determine the nature of the mounds.
Tump 1 is a low flat-topped mound with a surrounding ditch. The mound is cut into the side of a bank that slopes down to the river, so the ditch ends on the river side. Although the arisings from digging the ditch were thrown inwards to form the mount, calculations indicate that more soil must have been brought from elsewhere to attain the present height, which is thought to be close to the original. The large flat top suggests a space for buildings, which was supported by geophysics showing four rectangular high resistance anomalies. Other anomalies around the rim and in the ditch may be evidence of defensive structures. No evidence was found for a bailey or outer defences. It was concluded that it was a fortified site of late construction, not primarily for defence but as a settlement related to land tenure with good agricultural potential in the surrounding land.
Tump 2, across the river, is a more complex site that is less well defined. There is a raised area surrounded by a ditch and a sunken area surrounded by an embankment. The mound is angular and quite low, while the sunken area is mysterious, possibly a fish pond. The geophysical survey revealed evidence of walls on the mound, either a large building with internal partitions or a series of smaller densely packed buildings. The surrounding embankments showed a concentration of stone fill.  This site does not therefore appear to be a castle or defensive site but is likely to be a settlement corresponding to Domesday Elnodestune.  Interestingly the river here formed the boundary between the de Lacy lands and those of Ewyas Harold which would include tump 1. One could therefore speculate that the two tumps, either side of the river were there to affirm the boundaries and discourage any attempt at encroachment.
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