Scheduled Monument: Halscombe stone setting 790m SSW of Simonsbath Bridge
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
28 March 1996
Date last amended
The monument includes 11 standing stones, five recumbent stones and the archaeologically sensitive area between and around those features. It is located 790m SSW of Simonsbath Bridge on the gentle, south east facing slope of the small combe between Halscombe and Little Halscombe. The stone setting occupies a trapezoidal area extending for 0.19ha. The site consists of four randomly intersecting rows of stones with each line containing stones common to two other rows. The stones are unusually well aligned with regular intervals of 8m and 12m. Two of the rows contain three stones, one row four stones and one row five stones. The stones are between 50mm and 600mm high, 300mm to 730mm wide and 200mm to 380mm thick.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little excavation of its monuments. However, survey work has confirmed a comparable richness of archaeological remains with evidence of human exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day. The well-preserved
and often visible relationships between settlement sites, major land boundaries, trackways and ceremonial and funerary monuments give insight into successive changes in the pattern of land-use through time. Stone settings consist of a group of standing stones set out in an irregular or random pattern. There are a number of such sites on Exmoor where they appear to be a regional variation of the more common stone alignments. Stone settings are often sited close to prehistoric burial monuments, such as small cairns and cists, and to ritual monuments, such as stone circles, and are therefore considered to have had an important ceremonial function. Stone settings were being constructed and used from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC) and provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during these periods. Due to their rarity and longevity as a monument type all surviving examples are considered to be of national importance. The Halscombe site is a particularly good example of an Exmoor stone setting and survives well. The intersecting rows of fairly substantial stones are regularly aligned and spaced, suggesting that the site has had little disturbance and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its development and use.