Saxon Royal Town

Somerton's name may mean 'the summer settlement', perhaps reflecting the use of the low-lying levels for summer pasture in Saxon times.

It is thought the Saxon settlement, a 'burh', may have been to the north of the church, giving its name to the former back lane known as 'Behind Berry'. Alternatively, the burh may have been in the area now known as the Millands, which had banks and ditches at its eastern end before the Pinneys re-arranged the roads in the 1840s.

The 'burh', which had been established by the Kings of Wessex, was occupied by King Ethelbald of Mercia in 733. King Ina (686-726) is said to have been in Somerton when he promulgated a law code. In King Alfred's time, while he was hiding in the marshes at Athelney in 877, the Danes burnt Somerton and destroyed it, but by 860 the town had recovered sufficiently for the king to hold a Witan (royal council) here.

Domesday Book (1087) reveals that Somerton was the leading royal manor in Somerset, and at that time it included Kingsdon and Pitney. However, it was not to develop into an important place, except for a short time in the 13th century.