MSO10133 - Probable post-medieval linear banks east of Pinkworthy Farm (Monument)


A series of banks have been previously identified as a prehistoric field system and as a group of post-medieval drainage ditches. A site visit in 2013 has confirmed the earthworks extend further than thought previously.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Grass covered low banks up to 0.7 to 1.0 metres wide and 0.1 to 0.2 metres high forming an irregular shaped enclosure about 9 metres east to west and 10 metres northeast to southwest. About 28 metres northeast of the enclosure another bank runs northwest to southeast for about 44 metres. The southwest side of the enclosure continues on the southeast side of the field boundary bank for at least 216 metres, possibly as a double bank about 3.9 metres wide at the base and 0.1 to 0.2 metres high. There is another bank about 27 metres southwest which runs for at least 300 metres. About 25 metres east along this bank and on the south side there is a grass covered circular mound about 7 metres by 5 metres by 0.3 metres high and with a slightly dished centre. This is probably a prehistoric field system with an associated cairn. [1] An area of regular post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs on moorland north of Goat Hill and Short Combe Rocks, Exmoor. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at improvement, probably shortly after Frederic Winn Knight took over the running of the estate in 1841. Centred at approximately SS 7256 4099, the ditches run east-west across a south-west facing slope above an un-named tributary of the River Barle. It appears that the ditches were designed to channel water into this tributary. The ditches are all cut in straight parallel lines, and cover an area of approximately 1.5 hectares. The whole area around Goat Hill is particularly boggy and peat covered, and it seems likely that the ditches were cut to drain the area prior to it being enclosed. According to Orwin, many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but in some areas failed to provide adequate drainage for the land to be enclosed [4]. Large areas of Exmoor were successfully drained, although it appears that this area, which is still open and boggy moorland was not one of them. Other similar ditches are visible in the surrounding areas, some draining into natural streams and water courses, others appearing to drain into Pinkery Canal. Many of the ditches are associated with areas of peat cutting. [2-5] The two previous summaries have arisen from two records, from Somerset HER (MSO10133) and Monarch (MMO2151); both clearly relate to the same site. [6] The site was visited by the ENPA Historic Environment team in May 2013 and it was noted that most of the constituent features of this monument are not prehistoric but post-medieval in date. The mound recorded within the original record MSO10133 may be prehistoric in date but could also be a feature associated with the post-medieval activity. The linear banks are cut by the modern field boundaries and thus predate the enclosure contemporary with the establishment of Pinkery Farm in the mid 19th Century. The banks may therefore be of a similar date to the construction of Pinkery Pond and Canal around 15 years earlier, or may be the result of even earlier activity. The site visit also revealed the earthworks present may be more extensive than originally thought. The northwest to southeast trending banks are linked at their western end to another bank and ditch orientated northeast to southwest, together with a length of bank with a pronounced zigzag plan descending into the combe to the southeast of Pinkery Farm. The function of the earthworks remains obscure. [7] This area was subjected to a detailed survey in 2013, which more accurately defined the nature and chronology of the earthworks. These features were interpreted as drainage channels, of at least two phases, and an argricultural mound, all likely dating to the late 19th Century. [8] To ensure the record is clear, child records for each feature have been linked to this, the parent record for the whole complex (see MEM23336 to MEM23345). The earthworks originally mapped by this record are the monuments now recorded as MEM23336, MEM23337 and MEM23340. [9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 22 September 1995.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3148-49 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. 138-9.
  • <4> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 32-3.
  • <5> Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182.
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 15 July 2013.
  • <7> Report: Bray, L.. 2013. HER Input Form: Site visit to MSO10133.
  • <8> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Metric survey in the environs of Pinkery Farm, Exmoor Forest.
  • <9> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. S Thorogood, 3 September 2015.
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1470517, Extant 18 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 7257 4100 (296m by 208m)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (11)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2151
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW183
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1470517
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 14017

Record last edited

Jan 18 2022 4:53PM


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