MDE11200 - Prehistoric hut circle and field system on Martinhoe Common (Monument)


A hut circle and possibly contemporaneous field system on the southwest spur of Martinhoe Common. The field system is clearly visible on aerial photographs; however the hut circle is only visible at ground level.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 670 469. A hut circle and possibly contemporaneous field system are situated in enclosed pasture at about 265 metres Ordnance Datum on a southwest spur of Martinhoe Common. SS 6702 4698. The hut circle, set into a gentle south facing slope in an area of rough grass and thistles, is 10 metres in diameter between the centres of an ill defined turf covered wall with a maximum height of 0.3 metres and spread to about 2.3 metres (best preserved to the west). Ploughing appears to have reduced most of the eastern wall to an inner scarp only. The interior is levelled and contains an irregular mound, about 5 metes by 3 metres, in the centre, probably clearance from the area to the northeast of the hut. No entrance is evident. The field system consists mainly of low turf covered stony banks, reduced by ploughing to between 0.2 and 0.3 metres high and spread to about 2 metres on average. The best preserved field, centred at SS 6696 4686, is about 90 metres square. The bank on its west side is 0.3 metres high and spread to 3.2 metres whilst that on the east side is much less well defined. Its northern boundary is defined by a lynchet with a hollow way which has utilised its upper side. The southern boundary of this field is not evident and it may be that it has been utilised by the modern enclosure wall. From its northwest corner this field has been crossed diagonally by a later trackway which has a lynchet 0.5 metres high and 3.3 metres wide on its south side. From the northeast corner of the above field the eastern boundary bank continues up the slope, fades into the turf, then reappears continuing towards the hut circle. Another field bank runs off westwards from near the west side of the hut. There is also a fragment of bank at SS 6693 4703 and a 150 metre length from SS 6722 4726 to SS 6747 4725. The immediate area surrounding this system is shown enclosed on the 1842 tithe map [1] but most of the area to the north and east was not ploughed until as late as 1945 [2]. An area of some 72 hectares (about 1200 metres east to west by 600 metres, centred at SS 674 470) of this southern hillside of Martinhoe Common, appears to have been covered by field boudaries predating the modern enclosures. McDonnell [3] noted most of these field boundaries on aerial photographs [4] and, although they are now mostly ploughed out, they appear to have initially been part of one broad contiguous system. As field banks can be seen adjacent to a hut circle in this system (MDE11225) and one in the settlement, it suggests that the huts are probably contemporary with the field systems and the whole is the remnants of one large prehistoric field system (parts of which may possibly have been reused at later unknown periods) and settlement, only just surviving within the modern enclosures. Surveyed at 1:2500. [5] While the field banks described above are clearly visible on a number of aerial photographs, no trace of the hut circle was visible. The field boundaries cover an area of nearly 40 hectares, and in places may have been reused as modern enclosures. To the east of the system, at SS 6721 4687, a large ditch running approximately north to south is possibly the remains of another bank which has been eroded by water run off down the slope. It is now in use as a trackway. A possible hut circle is visible on aerial photographs at SS 6724 4570. [6,7] The GIS mapping data for this record has been edited to reflect observations made during a field visit by S Blaylock in December 2014, there are no records of the field system extending into the field centred on SS66704697 and there are no earthworks evident visible on site here. There are earthworks from circular stock feeders at around SS67004699 which may have been interpreted as a hut circle [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Map: 1842. Martinhoe Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <2> Monograph: Bridle, H.. 1991. Woody Bay. Finial Publishing. 86.
  • <3> Aerial photograph transcription: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Aerial Photograph Transcriptions of Sites in the Exmoor National Park (CRAAGS). 1:10560.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106/UK1655/3190 (June 1946).
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 20 July 1993.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106G/UK/1501 3372-73 (13 May 1946).
  • <7> Archive: Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme: SS 64 NE. MD002172.
  • <8> Collection: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Exmoor Project.
  • <9> Verbal communication: Various. Various. ENPA archaeologist field visit. S Blaylock, 11 December 2014.



Grid reference Centred SS 669 469 (566m by 856m) (Aerial survey)
Map sheet SS64NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64NE/48
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 60572
  • Devon SMR: SS64NE/47
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21639
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO318
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 NE46
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 915369

Record last edited

Jan 5 2015 1:16PM


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