MDE11896 - Possible Iron Age cross ridge dyke at Horner's Neck (Monument)


A univallate cross ridge dyke cuts off the end of the narrow steep sided promontory at Horner's Neck; it is probably Iron Age in date.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 74704897. A univallate earthwork or cross ridge dyke situated at Horner's Neck. Horner's Neck is a narrow steep sided wooded promontory or spur which projects southwards towards the East Lyn River some 300m to the northeast of Watersmeet House. The footpath south from Countisbury to Watersmeet follows the top of this spur and recent clearing along the path revealed this earthwork [1]. The spur, some 200 metres long and 225 metres above sea level, is about 20 metres wide at its highest (northern) end, narrows to only 8 metres in the centre and expands to some 30 metres wide at its southern shoulder before dropping down the steep slopes to the East Lyn. Cutting across the neck of the spur at its northern end is a univallate earth and stone rampart, or cross dyke, 30 metres long. Centrally, where best preserved, the rampart is about 10 metres wide and stands some 2 metres high above a silted external ditch about 6 metres wide and 0.2 metres deep. There are vestiges of an internal ditch, about 5 metres wide and 0.2 metres deep at best, some 0.7 metres below the rampart top. Towards the west the rampart and inner ditch gradually fade and the earthwork predominates mainly as an outer scarp. The outer ditch is reduced to a slight terrace which terminates at the lip of the steep natural slope. The footpath crosses the earthwork at its highest point near the east end and overlies the original entrance which is now difficult to interpret. Some 6 metres of the outer ditch survives as a fairly substantial hollow, about 7.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, cut into the steep natural eastern slope of the spur. The rampart turns due south and all that remains now are stony fragments of linear scarps each about 1 metre high; on the north some 5 metres along the inner lip of the ditch, and the east about 10 metres following the top of the natural slope southwards before it peters out. The fragmentary state of this corner appears to be due to robbing which has also mutilated the entrance. The robbed material has apparently been dumped into the external ditch, widening the causeway to some 6m. This may have been done to facilitate entry to the later farmstead (MSO11895) some 100 metres to the south of this earthwork. Some 50 metres south of the entrance is a pronounced linear depression crossing the narrowest part of the spur. This may be a natural feature which may have been augmented to restrict the access to the end of the spur. Otherwise (apart from the farmstead) there is no trace of any internal associated occupation or features. The juxtaposition of these two sites (the earthwork and the farmstead complex) on the same narrow spur might at first suggest that they could be contemporaneous. The earthwork however, appears to be a separate entity; it has strong prehistoric characteristics and is probably Iron Age. The farmstead buildings are clearly much later in origin and though they could possibly overlie, or have destroyed, earlier remains there is no evidence to support this. Surveyed at 1:1000. [2,3] The group of substantial earthwork buildings on the spur, described above as a farmstead, have been suggested as medieval, and in such a context may well be associated with this outwork, which may either be an original feature or a reused prehistoric earthwork. [4,5] Some 125 paces to the north of MDE11895 is an east-west cross bank which effectively cuts off the spur on which the main earthworks lie. [6] Site consisting of a ditch and bank cutting off the spur and defending it from the level approach from the north. [7,8] Promontory fort in Horner's Neck Wood with a single modest rampart and outer ditch enclosing a level narrow tongue of land. The land falls away steeply to the east, west and south. [9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. W Singleton, National Trust Warden, Barbrook, Lynton, Devon..
  • <2> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1993. Horner's Neck/ink survey . 1:1000. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 29 October 1993.
  • <4> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1996. Horner's Neck/pencil survey. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 12 January 1996.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Mold, E.. 1989. Site Visit.
  • <7> Report: Berry, N.. 2003. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of West Lyn Farm, Lynton, Devon. P. 4.
  • <8> Report: Berry, N.. 2004. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Kipscombe Farm, Countisbury, Devon. P. 4.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Rose, P, G.. 1988. Letter.
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 973574, Extant 16 December 2021.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS74NW/196
  • Local List Status (Candidate)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW86
  • National Park
  • National Trust HER Record: MNA108016
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 973574



Grid reference Centred SS 7470 4897 (100m by 42m)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Dec 16 2021 12:08PM


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