Copyright © The Ilchester Town Trust.  Registered Charity no 235579

Website by eddie at houseofed@tiscali.co.uk

...told by the Ilchester Museum

The Norman era

Ilchester in the eleventh century

Ilchester is listed in the Domesday Book as Givelcestre, this being one of the many variations of a  Saxon name. It was part of a Royal Estate based on Milborne Port.


Ilchester had 107 burgesses paying the crown twenty shillings and a market rendering £11. To be a Burgess you had be male and have an interest in the settlement either financially or by owning property. It was not necessary to live in that settlement.


We can deduce from the number of burgesses that the total population in the Norman period exceeded 1,000, a considerable size for that time. For comparison, only London, York, Lincoln and Norwich had over 5,000 inhabitants.


St. Andrew's Church Northover, over the bridge and just outside the northern boundary of Ilchester,  is mentioned in the Domesday Book and believed to be a Saxon minster. Ilchester may have originally come within its parish.


One church known in Ilchester in the early Middle Ages, St. Olave's was likely to have been a Saxon church.

St. Olave is a saint who had been king of Norway. Churches with this name were usually found where there was a settlement of Danes. The farmstead Sock Denis just to the south of Ilchester on the Yeovil road is known to have been settled by Danes.


In 1088 Robert de Mowbray Earl of Northumberland and his uncle Geoffrey, bishop of Coustance rebelled against the king, William Rufus. They sacked Bristol, took the castle, and  then proceeded to invade, plunder and burn Bath. After laying waste to Wiltshire they came to Givelcestre (Ilchester) and laid siege to it, preparing to take it by force in the hope of plunder. The inhabitants fought valiantly and eventually Robert retired having failed to achieve victory. The inhabitants must have been so glad that they had kept and maintained the Roman town wall.


This shows the importance of the site of Ilchester as a river ford and on the Fosse way, the main route west. This had great influence on the wealth and importance of Ilchester at this time.


to have been a Saxon church.

St. Olave is a saint who had been king of Norway. Churches with this name were usually found where there was a settlement of Danes. The farmstead Sock Denis just to the south of Ilchester on the Yeovil road is known to have been settled by Danes.


In 1088 Robert de Mowbray Earl of Northumberland and his uncle Geoffrey, bishop of Coustance rebelled against the king, William Rufus. They sacked Bristol, took the castle, and  then proceeded to invade, plunder and burn Bath. After laying waste to Wiltshire they came to Givelcestre (Ilchester) and laid siege to it, preparing to take it by force in the hope of plunder. The inhabitants fought valiantly and eventually Robert retired having failed to achieve victory. The inhabitants must have been so glad that they had kept and maintained the Roman town wall.


This shows the importance of the site of Ilchester as a river ford and on the Fosse way, the main route west. This had great influence on the wealth and importance of Ilchester at this time.