MMO155 - Nutscale Farmstead (Monument)


A complex of earthworks and stony banks is visible on aerial photographs are thought to represent the remains of Nutscale farmstead. The settlement was originally suggested as medieval but may be of 19th Century date.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 8553 4286. A complex of stone built rectangular post medieval buildings, surviving as stoney banks up to 1.0 metre high, was examined by McDonnell southwest of Nutscale Reservoir in 1981. A hollow way runs along the south side of the site and abandoned field banks join it from the north and west. There are the remains of possibly four buildings with outshuts and the opposing doorways of the central rectangular building suggest that a passage longhouse may be at the heart of this complex. [1] The Stoke Pero tithe map shows no farmstead or building, although a large enclosure of 34 acres of waste is indicated and labelled as "Nutscale, Lucott Moor and Black Hill". [3,4] It was a farm of 48 acres in 1840 and a holding in 1812. [5] There are disused fields on the south and east sides of Nutscale. The house platforms are visible on the infra-red aerial photographs taken in 1977. [6-8] Nutscale farmstead is centred at SS 8556 4287 on a shelf in a sheltered position at 365 metres Ordnance Datum. The site lies in a corner of a field with a gentle southern slope, cresting steep slopes to the southwest and south where a small combe incorporates a tributary stream to Nutscale Water. The most prominent remains are those of a three cell building, oriented east to west. It is now visible as turf covered banks, 2 to 2.5 metres wide and mostly 0.6 metres high; a few exposures indicate an original construction of coursed slabs and blocks of the local sandstone. These may be set in a coarse mortar but not enough stonework can be seen to confirm this. The two eastern rooms with traces of an intercommunicating doorway, probably represent the farm house, 13 metres long and 5 metres wide. A gap at the southwest corner appears to be the entrance; depressions in the walling at the northwest corner, and the southwest corner of the eastern room are less certain as entrances. Attached to the western end of the house is the third room, 7 metres long and 5 metres wide, with an entrance in the southwest corner but no direct access to the house. This could be a barn or shippon; from it a narrow track leads to a field to the northwest. A platform south of the house incorporates an angle of walling, perhaps a building, but so ruined that the original form cannot be distinguished. To the north of the house are foundations of a building 5 metres square with an entrance gap on the south side, the walling being less than 0.2 metres high. Referred to by the Somerset HER [5] as a lean-to, it is built against the wall of a yard some 25 metres long and 8 metres wide, with an entrance way to the field to the east. The complex is served by a hollow way on the south side of the steading and which extends westward to the stream in the combe and eastward to a central field. Between 0.5 and 1.3 metres deep, it is bounded on the south by a hedgebank which not only follows the crest of the slope but demarcates the cultivated land from the waste ground on the side of the combe. The 1 inch 1809 Ordnance Survey map, based upon drawings of 1802-3, depicts the area as unenclosed and part of Lucott Hill. Similarly Greenwood's map of 1822 seems to show enclosure ceasing at Blackford. The intake, still named Nutscale on the 6 inch 1978 Ordnance Survey map, is so named on the Tithe Map of 1842. The accompanying schedule describes it as 43 acres of pasture (not Aston's 34, or 48 acres, [4]) occupied by a William Peake with a 3 acre meadow called Nutscale Wood which was at SS 8605 4495, 1.5 miles north, in Berry Castle Combe. Both were on lease by Thomas Bowring and others. Nutscale enclosure lay beside 900 acres of moorland pasture described as "Lucott Moor and Black Hill". No buildings and no subdivisions are shown on the map. Today at least seven fields can be traced in Nutscale, three being subdivided into strips about 60 metres wide by banks 2 to 3 metres across and 0.5 metres high. Aerial photographs of 1947 [9] and 1973 [10] show faint traces of possible rig and furrow of narrow type but this is not necessarily indicative of medieval occupation. Since 1978, when the 6 inch Ordnance Survey map depicted the area as under bracken, the ground has been improved to pasture save for the steep combe slopes. McDonnell [1] suggests the possibility of a longhouse type farmstead but this seems unlikely, and the available evidence indicates a possible 19th Century steading of fairly short duration. [12-14] A complex of earthworks and stony banks visible on aerial photographs are thought to represent the remains of Nutscale farmstead in Luccombe parish. Situated between Luccombe Moor to the north and Great Hill to the south, the earthworks comprise a series of field boundary bank that surround the vestiges of a building, probably the farm buildings, at circa SS 8557 4287. The linear fir within the pattern of the extant field boundaries and earthworks define seven or eight fields or enclosures around the buildings, following the south and east facing slopes formed at the confluence of Nutscale Water with its tributaries in Nutscale Combe and Little Hill Combe. Evidence for narrow ridge and furrow cultivation can be seen in the field centred on circa 8564 4294 (6). As described above, the morphology of the remains is not typical of a medieval settlement and a post-medieval date for its creation and desertion is more probable. [15-17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [18]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R McDonnell, 29 March 1981.
  • <2> Serial: Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 1851-. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. Volume 126 (1982), 85.
  • <3> Map: 1841. Stoke Pero Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <4> Article in serial: Aston, M.. 1983. Deserted Farmsteads on Exmoor and the Lay Subsidy of 1327 in West Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 127. 94.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33700: Stoke Pero parish documents, 30 September 1986.
  • <6> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. SS8543A.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. LHL CPE/UK/1980 (April 1947) 3170.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 71-178, Run 85, 9333.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: QUINNELL, NVQ. Aerial photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3243 (11 April 1947).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: QUINNELL, NVQ. Aerial photograph. NMR OS/73109 853-4 (29 April 1973).
  • <11> Unpublished document: Fletcher, M.J.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, F1, 29 September 1987.
  • <12> Technical drawing: Quinnell, N.V.. 1987. Nutscale/ink survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, F2, 15 October 1987.
  • <14> Collection: Pattison, P., Quinnell, N.V., Fletcher, M. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987-1988. RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <15> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106UK/1501 3202-3203 (F20) (13 May 1946).
  • <16> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 543/2821 F64 157-8 (27 April 1964).
  • <17>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185. [Mapped feature: #41095 ]
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36052, Extant 14 March 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8556 4302 (464m by 511m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11344
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7347
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE32
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36052
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33700

Record last edited

Mar 14 2022 2:02PM


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