MDE10502 - Probable post-medieval clearance cairn near Sherracombe Cross (Monument)


A probable post-medieval clearance cairn is visible as a turf-covered stony mound on the edge of the old Dunster-Barnstaple hollow way (MDE13170). It was previously interpreted as the Span Head telling-house.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

The location of a telling house, known to have been in the vicinity of the 'span' since at least 1657 has probably been found in association with the old Dunster-Barnstaple route (mentioned by Leland). The telling house, at SS 7280 3582, is a conical mound 7.2 metres across and stands 2.75 metres above the trough of the sunken track. The walls of a building are extant. The trackway runs from SS 7207 3540 on yard Down to SS 7350 3622 towards Kingsford Cross and averages 3 metres wide. It is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1 inch map of 1809. [1,2] The aforementioned hollow way is now treated separately as MDE13170. [3] There is no mound at the position given (SS 7280 3582), however there is one 50 metres to the north at SS 7281 3587 which appears, from the description given, to be the feature referred to above. SS 7281 3587. A turf covered stony mound about 7.5 metres long northwest to southeast by 7 metres and 1.8 metres at its maximum height. It projects into the hollow way (MDE13170) and therefore postdates it. There are similar mounds projecting into the course of the hollow way further to the north. Eardley-Wilmot [1], suggests that this mound could be the telling house referred to by McDermot [4] at Span Head. However, Span Head is 1.2 kilometres to the northeast of this mound. There is no evidence to suggest there has been a building on this mound or that it is the remains of a building so the suggestion that this is the remains of a telling house cannot be substantiated. It is most likely that this mound is a stone clearance heap, as probably are the other mounds. [5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1>XY Serial: 1900 -. Devon and Cornwall notes and queries. Volume 34 (1981), pp 329-42, "Leland's Road and a Telling House (H Eardley-Wilmot). [Mapped feature: #47727 Previous suggested location of site, ]
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1809. 1 Inch Ordnance Surveyors draft map. 1:63,360.
  • <3> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Exmoor HER.
  • <4> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1973. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. David and Charles Limited. Revised Edition.
  • <5>XY Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 October 1995. [Mapped feature: #46701 Current suggested location of site, ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 900060, Extant 29 November 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7280 3584 (10m by 50m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS73NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS73NW/534
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 12167
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20246
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW37
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 900060

Record last edited

Nov 29 2021 9:21PM


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