This is one of a series of reports on the archaeology of the urban (and formerly urban) areas of Somerset commissioned by English Heritage as part of its Extensive Urban Survey (EUS). The reports were prepared by Somerset County Council in 1994-98. There is a brief history of the town extracted from the report or you can download the whole report and maps in Portable Document Format (PDF).
The settlement is situated on the Cheddar Yeo river just above its confluence with the Axe. It is strung between the parallel Rackley Lane and Webbington Road, immediately south of the village of Compton Bishop.
Rackley is a failed attempt to found a market and trading town to rival Axbridge and Lower Weare at the end of the 12th century. In 1179 the Pope confirmed to the Bishop of Bath and Wells the village of Compton with the port of 'Radeclive'. In 1189 Richard I granted a charter to the Bishop of Bath 'that he may make a borough on his own land of Radeclive...with a market and other free customs and liberties that any borough has that is on our land in England'. In 1324 Edward II confirmed the borough, however by the end of the 14th century there is documentary evidence that the port was in decline. Scouring of the river between 'Radclyff and Bulhurst' is recorded in 1527.
Since the medieval period Rackley has remained a small hamlet consisting of two or three farms, much as it is today.