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Taunton is the shire town of Somerset, England which was founded as a Saxon village. It is situated on the River Tone, for which the town derives its name. It was originally named Tone Tun. The word Tone is a Celtic word meaning “melt flow” which denotes a fast-moving river, and the Old English word “tun” means farm or estate.

Taunton was founded in 710 by Anglo-Saxon King Ine of Wessex who had a castle built shortly thereafter. In 722, the stronghold was seized by a rebel nobleman by the name of Ealdbert who wanted to take the throne from King Ine. It is unclear where the king was when the castle was seized, but he was not involved in what happened next.

Queen Ethelburg, on the other hand, was aware of the problem and set out to defend Taunton herself. She raised a hefty army and marched the army to confront Ealdbert. Although Queen Ethelburg frequently gets the blame for personally destroying the castle and burning down the town, it appears from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that she did not give the order to destroy anything. The fact that she led the army, however, makes her responsible in the eyes of history. As they tried to capture the rebel, the warriors eventually destroyed the castle, unaware that Ealdbert had slipped out of the area to Sussex. Later that year, King Ine invaded Sussex in an effort to track Ealdbert down. It took a while, but the king found and killed Ealdbert in 725.

A monastery was built at the turn of the 10th century. The bishops of Winchester owned the manor, and they got the first charter, which freed them from any and all royal tribute, from King Edward in the year 904.

Late in the 10th century, Alfred the Great fortified the towns around his kingdom. These towns were called burghs, Taunton was surrounded by a moat and a rampart with a wooden palisade on top. Taunton had a market, three windmills, a mill, and a mint, making it an important burgh.

Early in the 13th century, a fulling mill was established in Taunton. The purpose of a fulling mill was to pound woven wool in water in order to both clean and thicken it. Wooden hammers were worked by a watermill for this purpose. Taunton was famous for its wool industry, and wool was regularly exported to France.



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