Principal Archaeological Landscape: Valley of the Rocks
Exmoor National Park Authority
01 January 2011
Date last amended
Valley of Rocks is a dramatic dry valley west of Lynton, separated from the sea cliffs by a narrow ridge on its northern side; on either side of Castle Rock it opens to the sea above Wringcliff Bay. It is characterised by abundant surface stone and prominent rocky outcrops such as the Cheesewring and Castle Rock. It is predominantly coastal heath, with low levels of grazing, mainly by wild goats and Exmoor ponies. To the east of the PAL, amid the heathland vegetation is the Lynton and Lynmouth cricket ground.
Description of Archaeology
Valley of Rocks contains extensive prehistoric field systems and settlements, including the remains of cairns, hut platforms and coaxial fields on the steep valley slopes. Aerial photographs show that these extend to the top of the valley sides. It is likely that the field system extended along the valley in both directions. The widespread availability of surface stone within the valley has resulted in field boundaries and settlements that have endured.
The archaeology is clearly visible in both aerial photographs and on the ground; the extent and degree of preservation is exceptional for a prehistoric field system and settlement on Exmoor, largely as a result of the materials used in its construction. The setting of this prehistoric landscape within the unique geology of Valley of Rocks makes the archaeology of this area especially important. There is a long history of interest in this landscape, recorded through the works of painters, poets and writers, adding further weight to its classification as a PAL. As such it holds a significant role for communicating aspects of the prehistory of Exmoor, in particular within one of the most visited parts of the National Park.