Swanborough Tump

The original barrow may have dated from the Bronze Age barrows of around 1300 BC, of which about 100 have been located in Wiltshire, but more probably was one of the more recent Roman or Saxon burial mounds. About 850 AD it was identified as SWIN BEORG, the meeting place of the Leet or Court of the Swanborough Hundred, although there is no record of any settlement or place called Swanborough. In a Charter of 987 it was spelt SWANA BEORH meaning the ‘barrow of the peasants’.

The Anglo-Saxon Hundred is thought to have been an area of 100 hides, each hide being about 40 acres, but there was considerable variation in these areas. Swanborough was one of the largest, consisting of 183 hides, nearly a double Hundred. 9 Parishes are mentioned in the Swanborough Hundred in the Domesday Book of 1086, and at one time it was extended to 25 Parishes, although it never included Pewsey or Devizes and was always made up offarming villages.

The Tump was sited on the ancient footpath up Dragon Lane linking Manningford to Wilcot where the boundaries of the old Manningford Abbots and Bruce Parishes and Wilcot Parish met.

The Hundred Court met regularly at the Tump at least once a year. In the 14th century the proceedings record a number of fines imposed on people ‘for taking after their oaths’ (which probably meant for overcharging for work done).


In the 18th century the Tump was crowned by 3 ash trees, and the present Parish Council recently planted 3 ash trees on the site to revive this tradition. It had become customary to adjourn Meetings to the Rose and Crown public house in Woodborough.

When the Swanborough Team of 12 churches was formed in 1970, its logo incorporated the 3 trees, symbolic of the 3 crosses on Calvary.

The County Archaeologist confirms that the Tump is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Neither County Archives nor any private source has yet revealed any photograph, drawing or sketch of the Tump, but as recently as 1974 an Ordnance Survey fieldworker reported that the mound, although disturbed, was still there, albeit overgrown with trees. The memories of octogenarians, who as children knew the area well in the 1920s, cannot however confirm this.

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