MDE11942 - 20th Century building north of Desolate Combe (Monument)


A circular stone structure, 2.2 metres in diameter with walls 0.4 metres high, is cut into the north facing slopes above the cliff. It does not appear on mid to late 19th or early 20th Century mapping, suggesting it was constructed more recently.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A ruinous circular dry stone walled shelter is said to be a smugglers lookout. [1] At SS 7749 4986 are the remains of a circular stone structure. It lies on an elongated platform cut into the very steep north facing slopes above the coastal cliff; the South West Coast Path skirts the structure on its northern side.The building, 2.2 metres in diameter, is built if uncoursed, mortared stone. The walls are 0.57 to 0.6 metres thick and are 0.4 metres high on the northern arc and 1.5 metres high on the south. Stone rubble has collapsed into the interior. The structure has an entrance, 0.53 metres wide, on the southeast side. Opposite, on the northwest, is a window opening 0.35 metres wide, only the base of which is now visible. Both door and window openings are carefully constructed, and all the stonework (although not dressed in any way) has been laid to face up the walling. The suggestion that the building was a smugglers' lookout is extremely unlikely. It does, however, have parallels with the huer's huts of Cornwall which were sited on prominent headlands to direct fishing fleets towards the pilchard shoals. [2,3] The building is not shown on the Countisbury Tithe Map nor on the 1st or 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey maps. It is likely, therefore, to either pre or post date these maps, with the latter being more likely. [4-6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Devon County Council staff comments. AG Collings, personal communication to Devon SMR, 8 February 1983.
  • <2> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1970. Buildings of England: Cornwall. P. 126.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 December 1993.
  • <4> Map: <1841. Countisbury Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1002072, Extant 6 December 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS 74 NE 572
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 20027
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20579
  • Local List Status (Require info)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE35
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1002072



Grid reference SS 7749 4986 (point) Surveyed
Map sheet SS74NE

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Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Dec 6 2021 9:50PM


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