MDE1327 - Furzehill Common I: Prehistoric stone setting above Warcombe Water (Monument)


The remains of a prehistoric stone setting, on a westfacing slope above Warcombe Water. The site also features the remains of several stone cairns.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 736 440. A stone setting in parallelogram with triangle on Furzehill Common. Classified as Bronze Age by Grinsell. [1] Furzehill Common I SS 7348 4391. The remains of a stone setting now comprising two uprights, two possible displaced stones and two `erosion holes' without stones. The whole forms an irregular polygon D-C-B-E with sides of 7.5 metres 8.5 metres, 9 metres and 4.5 metres, with an irregular triangle B-C-A attached to the east side. This is extremely speculative. Scattered surface and earthfast stone adds complication to the interpretation; A and D may not be genuine. The site lies in enclosed land on a moderate, west facing slope dropping to Warcombe Water. There are extensive views down the valley to the north-west and across it to the W, but otherwise its valley side location restricts views in other directions. The stones are situated in rough grass with bracken and rush patches. The stones appear to be of local, sedimentary sandstones of the Hangman Grits series. There are several other local prehistoric settings and a row on Furzehill Common (MDE1302; MDE1304; MDE1305; MDE8977). Two cairns exist 550 metres to the north (MDE1293; MDE1294). Grinsell described this site as a `parallalogram with triangle' [1], perhaps it was better preserved when he visited. The grid reference is 150 metres too far northeast. [2,3] A further table of information on the stones is held in the archive. [4] SS 7348 4390. A stone setting as described and planned at 1:100 by Pattison [3]. (Letters apply to features on 1:100 plan): A - A partly concealed rectangular stone about, 0.4 metres long and 0.12 metres wide. It is apparently lying down so no thickness could be obtained. B - Is a firm upright, irregular sectioned, rounded top slab, 0.4 metres long. 0.32 metres wide and 0.1 metres to 0.13 metres thick. It leans towards the south-south-west and is 0.35 metres high. A solid trigger stone is visible at its base on the south side. It is surrounded by an erosion hole, 1.5 metres in diameter and 0.15 metres deep. C - Is an oval hollow, 2.1 metres north to south by 1.7 metres wide and 0.25 metres deep, possibly an erosion hole from a vanished stone. D - A triangular section of stone, at least 0.3 metres wide and 0.1 metres thick, just protruding from the turf. It is uncertain as to whether it forms part of the setting. E - A rhomboidal sectioned, rounded top slab, 0.25 metres high, 0.3 metres wide and 0.05 to 0.13 metres thick. It is a firm upright with a slight erosion scoop on the south-west side. F - A round hollow, 1.4 metres in diameter 0.2 metres deep, probably an erosion hole of a vanished stone. Surveyed at 1:2500. [5] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 12. [6] A field visit in April 2011 confirmed that the assessment in 2009 had transposed stones B and D; stone B was upright and stable in its socket but stone D appeared to be missing. All the other stones and erosion hollows were located and their positions mapped using survey grade GPS. As a prelude to any consolidation work a geophysical survey was carried out across the area of the site; this confirmed the existance of two cairns and highlighted possible areas of dispersed cairns. During the survey a number of other stones just protruding through the turf (very much like stone D) were noted and their locations recorded. As a result, a bearing was taken from the original RCHME survey and a 1 by 1 metre excavation trench dug over stone D's original recorded location. The stone became rapidly apparent once the turf was removed and was found to be lying neatly alongside its original stone hole, which was lined with vertically set packing stones and was clearly an upright part of the original setting. Disturbances to the packing stone suggest it was deliberately disassembled but the very neat way in which the stone had been lain adjacent to the long axis of the stonehole implies some care, perhaps even the intention to re-erect. The stone has been re-erected, however in order to minimise disturbance to the packing stones it now sits 0.1 metres above the original stone hole. The fact that the soil build up between 1992 and 2011 was enough to remove all trace of the stone from the surface raises important questions about what other stone features may currently be masked from view and how representative of the original structure our current plan of the monument actually is. [7] The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 5. [9] The remains of a stone setting now comprising 3 uprights, 1 possible displaced stone and 2 hollows without stones, is situated on the western edge of Furzehill. The site may once have had a layout similar to the setting at Pinford (MSO6820). All the stones remaining are fairly low, with Stone B standing as the largest at 0.24m high. This has led to some confusion in previous surveys on the identification of the stones, unaided by the presence of a large stone to the east of the setting. The sites condition is considered to be “good” as the stones were all located with little actual damage to their surfaces. However, the site more generally is at risk of various disturbances, mostly bracken, as in previous surveys. While the vegetation was low due to past management and winter weather, the remnants of bracken was visible. Livestock have also been rubbing on Stone B, creating a slight erosion hollow. It is possible that wondering livestock have led to the slight wobble found on Stone E. [10-11] The site was surveyed as part of an academic research project by Dr Sandy Gerrard in 2019. Surveys were conducted using a prismatic compass and electronic distance device with the plan being generated in the field. [12] The stone setting was surveyed at 1:200 using Differential GPS together with an adjacent cairn during reconnaissance of the area in 2009. [13]

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. 189.
  • <2> Technical drawing: Pattison, P.. 1988. Furzehill Common I/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Pattison, P. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 15 December 1988.
  • <4> Report: Quinnell, N.V. and Dunn, C.J.. 1992. Lithic monuments within the Exmoor National Park: A new survey for management purposes by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 24.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 28 June 1995.
  • <6> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <7> Article in serial: Gillings, M. & Taylor, J.. 2011. Geophysical Survey and Excavation at the Exmoor Stone Setting of Furzehill Common. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 69. 1-8+.
  • <8> Report: Gillings, M & Taylor, J. 2011. The Miniliths of Exmoor Project: Fieldwork at Furzehill Common & Porlock Stone Circle, April 2011. 2-7.
  • <9> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <10>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MDE1327. [Mapped features: #45388 Stone A., MDE1327; #45389 Stone B., MDE1327; #45390 Stone C., MDE1327; #45391 Stone D., MDE1327; #45392 Stone E., MDE1327; #45393 Stone F., MDE1327]
  • <11> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018 - Scheduled Standing Stones. MDE1327.
  • <12> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. English Heritage Field Investigation, 19 January 2022.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 12268
  • Devon SMR: SS74SW/58
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20342
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW59
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35495



Grid reference Centred SS 7348 4391 (38m by 21m) (6 map features)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Jan 19 2022 4:39PM


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