Athelney Island, Ethelingaeigge

King Alfred’s Monument, Athelney, Somerset. Built in 1801 for the squire John Slade. By Simon Burchell – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




  • Nr East Lyng, Somerset.
  • OSGB – ST 34330 29271
  • Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • Grade II Listed Building.



Defended Monastery and Abbey covering approximately 11½ acres.

Abbey cedicated to Our Blessed Saviour St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Egelwine. Started with monks from France and John Saxony was Abbot.


611-642                       Known as the place where Athelwine, son of Cyneghs, king of the West Saxons, lived as a monarch.

878                              Fortified by King Alfred against the Danish invaders.

888                              King Alfred built a monastery on the site following his victory against the Danes at the Battle of Edington in 878.

960                              Abbey converted to the Benedictine Order.

1160                            Robert de Beauchamp was assigned some lands so he would represent the monks at the County assize.

1248                            c: Benedict II of Athelney was Abbot.

1249                            24th April: Abbot Benedict II of Athelney was summoned to charter a meeting at Wells and for a breach of the customary rules and laws of the Chapter.

1267                            A weekly market was granted to the Abbey.

1304                            Gilbert de Ragun was given a Royal letter to take to the monastery for them to receive him as a pensioner. The monks complained as they already had two of the Kings old servants – John de Hanele and Nicholas Freyn.

1314                            Bishop Drokensford placed a disobedient monk from Peterborough in Athelney.

1319                            Bishop Drokensford wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln that the disobedient monk had to return for breaking his fetters.

1321                            Rebuilding work need to be carried out. Bishop Drokensford wrote to people in the area asking for funds to carry out repairs.

1322                            22nd October: Robert de Stalbridge from Aller and two monks were sent by the Bishop to inspect the buildings.

1325                            6th September: Edward II sent John de Blebury with a letter pertaining to being a pensioner.

1327                            17th November: William de Rainton the Kings Yeoman went to the monastery as a pensioner.

1341                            8th September; Edward de Chamberleyn arrived with a Royal request of a new Abbot.

1342                            15th December: Henry de Acum ‘spygurnal’ was sent to the monastery on a pension.

1348                            5th March: Henry de Acum died and Walter de Stodley, Kings Yeoman, took his place.

1349                            The Plague swept through the Abbey. 15th September Abbot Richard de Gothurst died from the plague; 23rd September John Stoure was made Abbot; 22nd October John Stoure died from the plague and Robert de Hache was appointed Abbot.

1401                            Pope Boniface IX granted Robert Wynchestre, a monk, a room for life at the Abbey.

1462                            Abbot Robert Hill was granted a licence for Divine Service to be held in his oratory.

1498                            c: The Abbey owed Henry VIII £33 6s 8d. John George was Abbot.

1499                            17th August: The Feast of Dedication was changed from 20th December to the 30th August.

1503                            Bishop King issued a commission to find the state of the buildings.

1530’s                         John Leland noted a wooden bridge led to the abbey.

1534                            17th September: The convent subscribed the Act of Supremacy and the Succession Act which was signed by Abbot Robert Hamblyn and Prior Richard Wells.

1535                            4th November: Robert Hamblyn wrote to Cromwell to gain permission to go abroad on Abbey business.

1536                            10th April: Again Robert Hamblyn wrote to Cromwell about the debts he owed totaling £869 12s 7d.

1538                            2nd November: John Dycen of Halford arrived to get Abbot Hambley’s resignation.

1539                            8th/20th February: John Tregonwell, William Petre and John Smyth, Cromwell’s Commissioners, took the Abbey and wrote to Cromwell.

1539                            Destroyed during the Dissolution.

1539                            c: The Abbey and site were leased to Lord Audley.

1540                            8th February: The last Abbot was Robert Hamlyn, he and eight monks surrendered.

1544                            17th August: Sold to John Clayton for £182 15s.

1545                            April: John Clayton obtained a licence to sell it to John Tynbere.

1633                             In ruins.

1670’s                           Demolished. Stone robbed to build the nearby farm buildings.

1685                            Monmouth was defeated on the site.

1693                             The Alfred Jewel was discovered on the site.


The Alfred Jewel discovered on the Isle of Athelney.
Image: Public Domain


17th-18th C                   Site excavated.

1801                            Site of monastery marked by a monument built by Sir John Slade, 1st Slade Baronet.

1965                            Field Investigation.

1967                            Field Investigation.

1984-1985                   Watching Brief 

1987                            Geophysical Survey by Ancient Monuments Laboratory Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.

1987                            31st December: Scheduled.

1993                            Geophysical Survey by Geophysical Surveys of Bradford for Time Team. Several ditches and circular enclosure were uncovered.

1993                            Evaluated by Time Team.

1999                            Evaluated by Exeter Archaeology. Dark ages bank and ditch uncovered.

2000                            Watching Brief by Somerset Sites and Monument Record.

2001                            5th January: Scheduled.

2002                            Evaluated by Time Team. Geophysical Survey by Geophysical Surveys of Bradford showed an Iron Age defensive ditch.


Alfred in the Isle of Athelney, receiving News of a Victory over the Danes.
Image: Public Domain


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