MMO495 - Medieval and / or post-medieval trackway on western boundary of Exmoor Forest (Monument)


A trackway follows the western boundary of the Exmoor forest between Lynton and South Molton. The route is in varying stages of preservation. Parts are evident as hollows with others as a rough metalled track.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 7138 4500 south to SS7177 4000. An ancient trackway, later used as a packhorse route, from Lynton to South Molton. [1] An ancient road from Lynton to South Molton by Shallowford, Saddle Stone, Woodbarrow and Moles Chamber, following almost exactly (between Saddle Stone and Moles Chamber) the western boundary of the forest. The portion of this highway between these points is probably a good example of a typical Exmoor road in use a hundred years ago [2]. According to Burton it later became a well used packhorse trail [3]. The western boundary of the Exmoor Forest from the Saddle Stone (SS 7151 4347) southwards to the Edgerley Stone (SS 7195 4070) is annotated 'The Lynton and South Molton Road' on an 1816 'Plan of Exmoor Forest' [4]. This route, shown on the 1891 6 inch Ordnance Survey map [5] is still evident but in varying stages of preservation. From SS 7138 4500 to Shallowford (SS 7139 4496) the tarmacadam road follows the line. From Shallowford southwards to Saddle Gate (SS 7151 4347) a rough metalled track marks the route. This section is marked by hollow ways on the sides of the track at SS 7130 4382 and SS 7145 4355. The metalled track ends at Saddle Gate and is marked by older hollows on both sides. Some 40 metres to the west of Saddle Gate one hollow way is clearly visible overlaid by the early 19th Century enclosure wall. The route continues southwards as well defined hollow ways up the northwest flanks of Winaway parallel to the western boundary of Exmoor Forest. About SS 7150 4325 the turf covered trackway is visible some 13 metres wide heading towards Woodbarrow. From Wood Barrow southwards the route is marked by hollows and ruts close by the east side of the enclosure fence and it continues similarly marked past the site of the Twizzle Mark Stone, over Broad Mead towards Bill Hill where its course is severely rutted as it runs down the slope to cross the Simonsbath road. It then follows the track up the western side of the saddle between South Regis Common and Roosthitchen to the plan edge near the site of Broadbarrow Stone where it continues onto Mole's Chamber. SS 7180 4000 to SS 7500 3606. The route crosses the north edge (SS 7180 4000) as a well preserved hollow way cutting southwards to the head of Lew Combe. From here it passes a few metres to the west of the Sloley Stone and follows the west side of the enclosure wall to the site of Mole's Chamber (SS 7184 3939). At Moles Chamber it crossed another ancient route from Porlock to Barnstaple (MSO7005). According to Burton [2] from Mole's Chamber it continued via Setta Barrow, Span Head, Kinsford Gate and Two Barrrows to Sandyway Cross but much of this part of the route is now covered by a tarmac road. Note: SS 7130 4382. This short length of hollow way, which cuts through the eastern end of Stone Row (MDE8974), has been described as a 'bank and ditch' by Timms [6] but this is incorrect. The 'bank' is merely the higher ground between two hollow ways ('ditches'). [2-7] A section of the trackway described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs from Saddle Gate, Lynton and Lynmouth to Woodbarrow Gate, where it fades from view. It then continues between Bill Hill and Shoulsbarrow Common, Challacombe. To the south, around Shallowford, Lynton and Lynmouth, additional trackways can be seen, but as it is unclear whether these are part of the same packhorse road, they have been recorded separately (see MMO2635 and MMO2636). It is severely rutted, and may have been damaged by water erosion. The trackway continues into the next quarter sheet to the south (SS 73 NW) [7]. The close proximity of the trackway to the western boundary of the former Royal Forest of Exmoor suggests that it must have been in use during the medieval period, but its precise date remains uncertain. The trackway is not visible on aerial photographs between the Saddle Stone and Moles Chamber and beyond; however, numerous smaller trackways are visible around Mole's Chamber, Castle Common and Hentitchen which may have linked to the main routeway, or may be part of it. The 1816 map of Exmoor Forest shows several larger routeways, together with "watering places" leading across the moor and around the Royal Forest. [8-10] McDonnell notes irregular linear depressions south of Saddle Gate marking the route of the trackway. [11-13] Sections of track were noticed during Cornwall Councils walkover survey of Roosthitchen on behalf of the Mires Project. At SS 71771 40039 is a linear hollow up to 2.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep running northwest to southeast on the north side of the boundary. Its change in direction could mean it is a divergence or a drainage feature. At SS 71727 40342 is another complex of braided hollow ways; similarly at SS 71813 39817, a series of holloways are visible. This all appears to be part of the historic routeway between Lynton and South Molton. [14] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [15,16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <1> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1911. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. Barnicott and Pearce, The Wessex Press. 13.
  • <2>XY Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. 19. [Mapped features: #40458 Route between Shallowford and Saddle Gate, 19; #40459 Route between Wood Barrow and Bill Hill, 19; #46703 Route between Moles Chamber and Sandyway Cross, 19]
  • <3> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. Opposite p21.
  • <4> Map: Unknown. 1816. Somerset: Exmoor. ?Possibly this map. Original reference not on Pastscape entry..
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1896. County Series, First Edition 6 Inch Map. 1:10560. 1891, Devon Sheet 7SW.
  • <6> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. S Timms; Devon County SMR SS74SW/113, 20 June 1985.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 7 September 1994.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/2082 4104-05 (19 May 1947).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 880-81 (29 April 1973).
  • <10>XY Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped features: #32863 Route between Saddle Gate and Wood Barrow, ; #33197 Route between Bill Hill and Mole's Chamber, ]
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/CPE/UK 1655.4065 (July 1946).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. MAM/13/069 (May 1977).
  • <13> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7143a.
  • <14> Report: Kirkham, G. and Taylor, S.. 2008. Exmoor Mire Restoration Project: Archaeological Survey on Moorland Areas at Alderman's Barrow Allotment, Blackpitts-Exe Head, North Twitchen, Roosthitchen and Verney's Allotment. Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Service (Projects). p. 15-16; no. 2, 3, 19.
  • <15> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1050195, Extant 13 October 2021.
  • <16> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1044231, Extant 13 October 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7526 3905 (7868m by 11822m) (5 map features)
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (11)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 18169
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 26028
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 60627
  • Devon SMR: SS74SW/85
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE12862
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE13175
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20809
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO505
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW45
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW135
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1044231
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1050195

Record last edited

Jan 19 2022 3:31PM


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