MMO471 - Medieval field system at Ammony and Holden Head (Monument)


A field system of probable medieval origin can be seen on aerial photographs as a series of banks and lynchets, surviving on the ground as earthworks up to 0.5 metres high. One of the lynchets is overlain by a clearance cairn (MDE13256).

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 7626 4856. Low banks forming an irregular and abandoned field system were noted on aerial photographs northwest of Brendon. SS 758 492. Low banks forming a small group of irregular fields on Ammony were noted on aerial photographs. [1-5] Area of low banks and lynchets extending to c.4 hectares forming a medieval field system on the west facing slopes of Ammony Hill identified during the survey by the National Trust in 2004. There may be several unconnected phases of construction. The larger banks may be the remains of 'rye break' or temporary ploughing of the common and the smaller features may relate to field drains when the moorland was improved. The features were not shown on the historic maps. A small mound 7 metres in diameter by up to 0.5 metres high at SS 7575 4911 was interpreted as a field clearance cairn with several other possibly cairn remains in the pasture along the crest of Ammony. The fragmentary remains of a field bank up to 1.5 metres wide by up to 1 metre high which predated the historic maps was identified around the south side of the field system centred on SS 7571 4906 and may have joined the southwest end of the fields around Duccombe Wells. [6] Centred at SS 7580 4920 in improved pasture is a field system. It extends over some 4 hectares of a spur called Ammony. The remains consist of banks and lynchets. The lynchets, which are very spread and stand to 0.5m high, seem to represent removed field boundaries. The compact banks appear to represent a secondary phase, possibly the later sub-division of fields. The field system is probably medieval in origin, and the formation of lynchets suggests that it was long lived. One of the lynchets is overlain by a turf-covered, circular mound, a probable clearance heap (MDE13256). [7] A rapid examination of aerial photography [8] suggests the presence of a number of linear features and enclosures, of uncertain date, visible as earthworks in an area bounded by SS 758 490, SS 758 491, SS 756 493 and SS 756 492, c.300 metres west-northwest of Dewcombe. [9] Centred on circa SS 758 491, an extensive field system of probable medieval date, covering approximately 40 hectares, can be seen aerial photographs defined predominantly by linear earthwork banks, on the upland spurs called Ammony, Holden Head and an unnamed spur to the south of Wilsham Cross. The relict field system abuts extant field boundaries of probably medieval origin at Dewcombe and to the southwest of Coombe farm, and is therefore probably of a similar or later date. The incorporation of several isolated bank defined rectilinear enclosures within the area of the field system and the probably incremental nature of some of the fields, may support the interpretation that these earthworks represent the gradual creation of infield and outfield enclosures, possibly associate with a former farmstead. This field system was at least partly abandoned prior to the publication of the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1891. Several phases of enclosure are represented. This may be supported by the often irregularly shaped relict fields and their apparent association with enclosures to the north of the modern A39, including a small field system at circa SS 761 493 visible only as somewhat ephemeral cropmarks. Elements of the field system may also have been incorporated into the modern roadside boundary banks. The field system has been largely ploughed out by 1972 and can be partially seen as cropmarks in 1995. [10-14]

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/CPE/UK/1980.4043-4 (April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. MAM/13/029 (May 1977).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LD 13-15. Devon Aerial Photograph.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LF. Devon Aerial Photograph. 10, 11.
  • <5> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7648B, SS7549A.
  • <6> Report: Berry, N.. 2004. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Kipscombe Farm, Countisbury, Devon. References 101012-4; site distribution map 2, sites 040-042.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 27 October 1995.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR, SS 7549/1; SS 7649/1-2.
  • <9> Archive: Miller, A.. 1995. RCHME Aerial Photograph Primary Recording Project. Andrew Miller, 18 December 1995.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/910 (F20) 4059-60 (17 October 1972).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G-UK1501 (F20) 4351-3 (13 May 1946).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72065 032-033 (15 April 1972).
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 089-90 (12 March 1995).
  • <14>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #42793 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 7587 4889 (1014m by 1026m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 18114
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 18125
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 71676
  • Devon SMR: SS74NE/535
  • Devon SMR: SS74NE/547
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE12504
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20763
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20774
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE53
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1033005

Record last edited

Oct 13 2021 3:40PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.