Sudbrook

Significant numbers of well preserved medieval and later fishing structures have been recorded on the foreshore southwest of the Iron Age fort at Sudbrook Point. These were recorded as part of archaeological survey and excavation in advance of the construction of the Second Severn Crossing in 1991, and following the recent storms of January 2007.


Structures occur in several forms, from finely woven globular and conical baskets made of thin willow and hazel rods (Figure 1-3), to post settings, hurdling and trackways, made from oak and hazel. The baskets, most probably designed to catch eel and lamprey, date to the 13th and 14th centuries with occasional early post-medieval examples. The post settings, hurdling and trackways, probably representing the remains of fish weirs, hedges or larger putts and putchers, range in date from perhaps as early as the 8th century through into the post-medieval period. They provide important evidence that traditional methods of fishing in the estuary extend back at least 1,000 years. The fast flowing currents and high tidal range of the estuary provide ideal conditions for the use of fixed baskets and weirs, in part explaining why fishtraps are so abundant at Sudbrook and throughout the Severn Estuary.


It is advised not to venture onto the foreshore, which is extremely dangerous because of slippery muds, deep channels and powerful tides. The fishtraps are also under active erosion and are easily damaged by trampling. The foreshore can, alternatively, be viewed from Sudbrook Point.


Further reading needs adding to bibliography (RB)
Godbold, S. and Turner, R.C. (1994). Medieval fishtraps in the Severn Estuary. Medieval Archaeology 38, 19-54.
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Sudbrook: Image 1
Sudbrook: Image 2
Sudbrook: Image 3