MEM15533 - 19th Century pinetum and arboretum at Yearnor Wood (Monument)


A former enclosure was recorded in Yearnor Wood, defined by a stone wall on its northern, southern and eastern sides. It is shown on the Porlock Tithe map and appears to be a pinetum and arboretum, known to have been planted with various species of trees in 1835.

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Type and Period (2)

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Full Description

A drystone wall up to 1.4 metres high, running for over 300 metres in an east to west direction along Yearnor Ridge. The wall probably defines the southern extent of an attempt to enclose Yearnor Ridge as pasture. It could be part of the 19th Century ornamental landscaping associated with the Ashley Combe Estate, but its incomplete depiction indicative of probable abandonment on the Ordnance Survey first edition 6 inch map of 1889, alongside other complete 19th landscaping features (see MEM15534) would suggest it predates the ornamental landscaping. [1,2] An archaeological survey of the woods was undertaken in 2017-8. An enclosure to the west of Ashley Combe formed by a stone wall and suggested to be an abandoned pasture field or William King’s arboretum was located and its location plotted using a handheld Trimble Yuma tablet with enhanced GPS (Global Positioning System). The enclosure was recorded with photographs, descriptions and measured profiles. The enclosure (CW001) is located on a long, narrow spur to the west and above Ashley Combe, centred at 285462 148055. The enclosure is 206 metres long, 45 metres wide and is formed by a stone wall on the north, south and east sides; the west side is formed by the boundary of the enclosed farmland. The stone wall of the enclosure can be followed on the ground for much of the north, east and south sides; at the northwestern and southwestern sides, the vegetation and steep topography preclude access. The wall on the south side of the enclosure is a retaining, drystone wall, built of roughly coursed local stone slabs, 1.1 metres high. In places, a capping of horizontally laid stone slabs can be seen. The north side of the enclosure is also formed by a retaining drystone wall, 1 metre high, built on a terrace cut into the steep slope above Ashley Combe; at the southeastern corner the wall is ruinous and survives as a spread, stony bank, 2 metres wide and 0.6 metres high. An entrance gap at the northeastern corner of the enclosure may be an original feature, although the change in the character of the stonework suggests that it has been modified. A path from this entrance descends to join Drive 1, northwest of Ashley Combe. A second path runs through the interior of the enclosure and across the eastern wall, then descends in a series of sharp bends to the house after crossing Drive 1 where it can be followed on the ground. A second entrance may lie on the north side of the enclosure at 285462 148083, where a retaining wall runs for some 13 metres at right angles to the main entrance, but vegetation obscures the area. The enclosure was built before 1841 as it is shown clearly on the tithe map [3]. The tithe map also differentiates between the composition of the woodland inside the enclosure with a mix of conifers and broad leaved trees inside the enclosure but only broadleaved trees in the woods outside the enclosure. Only the south and east sides of the enclosure are shown on the 1st Edition map [4]and a drive clearly cuts through the south side of the enclosure, showing that the enclosure was not in use by the end of the 19th Century. Although the Ordnance Survey map of 1804 is at a small scale [5], the enclosure is not shown suggesting that it is not an agricultural enclosure. The cartographic and field evidence, together with its location at a high point, combine to show that this enclosure is very likely to be the place ‘above the house’ where planting took place in 1835, and represents a pinetum and arboretum as suggested by John Phibbs. The estate records mention planting ‘many cypress in the wood above the house & some sycamore’ in January 1835, and ‘many pinaster Sc pine, larch and larcio &c in the wood above the house’ in December 1835. [3] The feature was mapped on the HER GIS using a georeferenced version of the Tithe Map. [3]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Report: McDonnell, R. + Faxon, K.. 2002. Culbone Woodlands: A Preliminary Archaeological Survey for Management Purposes. P.22.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <3>XY Map: Cox, J. W.C.. 1841. Porlock Tithe Map and Apportionment. 13.3 inches : 1 mile. [Mapped feature: #45108 ]
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1804. 1 Inch Ordnance Surveyors draft map - North Molton, Devon. 1:63,360. Pen and Ink.
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2018. The archaeology of the 19th Century designed landscape at Ashley Combe and Culbone Church, Exmoor National Park: Project Report. CW001, 6.



Grid reference Centred SS 8537 4802 (373m by 203m) (Approximate)
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Report Site Reference: CW001 SEM7026

Record last edited

Mar 10 2021 5:09PM


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