It is one of the richest areas for archaeological remains in Britain, and now one small part of the Somerset Levels appears to have been hiding not just one historic site, but two.
Archaeological investigations being carried out in the area near Cheddar where Bristol Water proposes to build a second reservoir, have shown evidence of a Romano-British settlement, and a medieval harbour.
A geophysical survey has produced the information and now 600 metres of exploratory trenches are planned. Landowners are being kept informed and the work is not expected to affect the eventual work on the reservoir itself.
The Cheddar Yeo river runs just outside the southern boundary of the reservoir site. It rises at Charterhouse, then disappears beneath the Mendip hills and reappears in Gough’s Cave, Cheddar, where it forms the largest underground river system in Britain, before emerging into Cheddar Gorge and running west and south to join the river Axe.
A French ship sailed up the river in the 14th century, and by 1388 the little port of Rackley on the Yeo is known to have been used by used by Thomas Tanner of Wells to export items to Portugal.