TITHE barns are a classic feature of the Somerset countryside, with dozens in towns and villages across the county.

But new book Tithe Barns - which documents around 100 of the structures across the country - raises a few questions, including just how many of Somerset's structures are actually 'tithe barns'?

Tithe Barns were built during the medieval period to store tithes, a tax paid to the church in the form of one-tenth of a farmer's produce, and were still in use well into the 18th century.

For the book, due out on June 15, former Somerset resident Joseph Rogers spent the past two years travelling the nation and unearthing some of the history associated with these vast, ageing buildings.

With Glastonbury Abbey, Muchelney Abbey and The Bishop's Palace in Wells influencing the area over time, it is not surprising to find that Somerset has more tithe barns than most other counties.

Finding them was no mean feat, however.

Joe firstly had to weed out a number of 'imposters'; tithe barns called such, but which were never proven to have ever stored tithes.

Yeovil Express: AUTHOR: Joe Rogers, who researched tithe barns in Somerset and beyond
AUTHOR: Joe Rogers, who researched tithe barns in Somerset and beyond

Indeed, many of the examples holding the title 'tithe barn', were in fact built as abbey barns, storing produce farmed by abbeys themselves and not given as tithes by the wider public.

Joe was inspired to write the book back in 2014 when he visited the famous barn at Pilton, which has incorrectly been called a tithe barn in the past.

The amazing story of its age, use in the Second World War as a training base for the Women's Land Army and restoration by Michael Eavis after a fire in 1963 prompted Joe to research the history of other barns in the UK.

And on his travels he encountered barns since converted into family homes, restaurants, wedding venues and even one storing a selection of rare Aston Martin vehicles.

“Somerset gets a chapter all to itself in the book,” Joe said. “Many are abbey barns, such as the one in Glastonbury itself, but the one in Wells is thought to have stored tithes for the Bishop and Dunster Tithe Barn has records of tithes being paid to the priory in the 1500s."

Tithe Barns, by Amberley Books, is released on June 15 and is available from high street and independent retailers as well as online.

Yeovil Express: PUBLICATION: Tithe Barns, by Joe Rogers