Roman and Saxon Period Timelines: All, Roman and Anglo Saxon (upto 1066)


Once the Romans arrived, they established a transit camp in nearby Alverdiscott. This lay on their route to Great Torrington, but also provided a watchful presence over the Bideford crossing.

Upon the departure of the Romans, a Saxon administration took over. East-the-Water fell at the NE edge of the Hundred of Shebbear, near enough to one of the possible sites for the great Viking defeat at Arx Cynuit.

A Saxon church stood on the west of the Torridge (on St Mary’s site). The parish priest would have been supported by tithes and gifts, but in Bideford, as in many places, this income was supplemented by the proceeds from ‘glebe land,’ property that had been give, or entrusted, to a church for its support. It is not clear how the Bideford parish came by them, but it held at least two pieces of glebe in East-the-Water, Chapel Hay (which lay north of the current school) and Sanctuary Field, which became Sentry Field and gave rise to the name ‘Sentry Corner’.

With access to St Mary’s from East-the-Water restricted every time the tide rose, the presence of some form of ecclesiastical establishment east of the river seems likely. Evidence from 1421, together with modern place names, suggest that just such an establishment existed and that it took the form of a chapel. In 1792 John Watkins (the early local historian, after whom Watkins Way is named) suggested that its ruins might have been those formerly seen near Chapel Hay.

From the 6th C. the manor of Bideford was held by the Honour or Barony of Gloucester, coming, eventually under the oversight of the Saxon leader Britric.