MMO339 - Undated boundary or hollow way on Ilkerton Ridge (Monument)


Two parallel curvilinear banks are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs. The date and function of the earthworks are uncertain but interpretations include a prehistoric or early Roman boundary or a hollow way of medieval date.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A low bank across the north end of Ilkerton Ridge was seen by McDonnell on aerial photographs. [1-3] Two parallel curvilinear banks about 305m above OS, on the heather clad moorland of Ilkerton Ridge. They extend from SS 7118 4582 NE for 370m across a shallow saddle to SS 7146 4606. The earthwork isolates the northern summit of the ridge which rises some 7m above the saddle about 500m to the NW. The low earth and stone banks are covered by turf, heather and gorse and the whole is now a rather fragmented and inconspicuous feature. The banks vary from 5.5m to 8.5m between centres but in the best preserved length in the NE are about 6m apart. They are some 4m wide, 0.5m high above the ground level and 1m high above the central ditch. Most of the material for the banks appears to have come from the central ditch as there is no evidence of external ditches. Ilkerton Ridge is approached by the modern road in the W, and also by several past and present tracks and paths. These have cut and mutilated the earthwork making it difficult to ascertain which, if any, are original gaps and which later intrusions. One near-central break about 10m wide at SS 7134 4596 could be an original feature. In the SW no evidence could be seen of the banks continuing through a ploughed field. In the NE a gate in the enclosure wall at SS 71467 46070 marks the alignment and in the pasture field to its E faint undulations on the same alignment suggest it probably continued for about 100m down the slope. The original, function and date of this earthwork are not clear. It may be a hollow way as from Woolhanger, to the SW of Ilkerton Ridge, north-eastwards the farms of Thornworthy, Radsbury, South Sparhanger and Cheriton all lie on an almost straight line and it is possible that this earthwork, which lies directly on that alignment, marks part of a through route originally connecting these farms fringing this northern extremity of the moor. However no trackway connecting Thornworthy to Radsbury (the section covered by Ilkerton Ridge) is depicted on the 1840 Tithe Map [4] and furthermore the earthwork does not have the appearance of a hollow-way so this is extremely doubtful. Cross-ridge boundaries similar to this are found in North Yorkshire similarly placed across upland spurs and promontories. Survey and excavation [5] there suggest that some of those boundaries operated in conjunction with natural features to define areas of prehistoric landscape which may be concerned with ritual during the final Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Here on Ilkerton Ridge about 1km to the S of the cross-ridge earthwork is a scattered group of prehistoric Cairns, Standing Stones, Stone Settings and Tumuli and perhaps there is some association between them and this earthwork however it is more likely that this is a cross-ridge boundary probably associated with stock management on this moorland ridge. Surveyed at 1:10000. [6] The earthworks comprehensively described above have been transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. Unfortunately, due to vegetation cover, the banks were clearly visible on the available photography for only about 280 metres of their total length, from circa SS 7124 4587 to SS 7144 4606. It is the opinion of this authority that a hollow way of early medieval origin is the most likely interpretation for this feature. As indicated by [6] above, it is probable that this feature continued downslope for up to 100 metres beyond the field boundary at its north-eastern end, its likely route indicated by pale and amorphous cropmarks on the available prints, unfortunately too diffuse to accurately transcribe. Regrettably, this extension of the hollow way is most clearly visible as levelled earthworks on aerial photographs currently available only as negatives, which could not be scanned at the time of survey [10]. It is unclear if the possible route continued eastwards beyond this field, but it is well aligned with a dogleg in Radsbury Lane, the current course of which now continues west from this point approximately 100 metres to the south. The interpretation of this feature as a route, rather than a boundary, may be supported by a possible 'fork' in the earthworks, visible at circa SS 7134 4595, which may have been created when the course of the hollow way changed to meet the current line of Radsbury Lane. Earthworks defining a second possible route, centred on circa SS 7154 4603, between Radsbury Lane and the hollow way, may indicate that this was a gradual or staged process. [8-11] It is highly likely that the trackway continued to the east to join Radsbury Lane at SS 7164 4610. The GIS mapping of this monument has been edited to reflect this. [13]

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7145A, SS7146A.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: SAINSBURY, ISS. Aerial photograph. RAF/CPE/UK/1980, 3054 Apr 1947.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 13/058 May 1977.
  • <4> Map: 1840. Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <5> Serial: Antiquity Publications Limited. 1927 -. Antiquity. Vol 68, No 258 (Vyner, BE; 1994); p27-38.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation.
  • <7> Survey: Lynton and Lynmouth, possible cross-ridge boundary at SS 74 NW 40/ink survey . 1:1000. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3197-8 11-JUL-1946.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 (F20) 4040-1 08-NOV-1952.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA CUCAP (Zki-FD 100) 02-NOV-1995.
  • <11> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <12> Collection: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Exmoor Project.
  • <13> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. Shirley Blaylock, 28 March 2018.



Grid reference Centred SS 7141 4597 (482m by 308m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 17886
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/51
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE11693
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20500
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW40
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 926105

Record last edited

Apr 3 2018 3:55PM


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