MSO11261 - Prehistoric stone setting above Orchard Bottom (Monument)


Four small stones are in the shape of an irregular quadrilateral and are thought to form a prehistoric stone setting. A section of the site was excavated in 1982, when one of the stones was reerected.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Small stone circle annotated onto AL Wedlake's 1955 Ordnance Survey map at SS 8224 4093. [1] The above reference appears to refer to four small stones set upright in the ground and forming an irregular quadrilateral at SS 8222 4097. The shortest side is 7.2 metres, the longest 8.6 metres with the largest stone 0.6 metres high. (See GP AO/65/174/7). These stones are not part of a stone circle but fall into the same category as other stone settings in this area. Surveyed at 1:2500. [2] The southwestern stone is fallen and is 22 centimetres long, the others 46 centimetres, 54 centimetres and 22 centimetres high. [3] Published version of 1981 plan. [4] The site was excavated in September 1982. A triangular area of 48 square metres was excavated on the southwestern half of the site, including two of the standing stones and the area of the fallen one. The northeastern stone was not disturbed. The area was excavated through the turf, topsoil and a clay layer down to expose the clays and gravels of the periglacial land surface. The hole for the fallen stone was located but no other features or finds were evident. The fallen stone was reerected in the hole, which it fitted so well that it was felt that the orientation was correct. No buried soils were located but samples were taken for pollen analysis. [5] Note of excavation. [6] The setting was surveyed in 1983. [8] The setting was listed by Fowler as Exford 3. [9] The stones are of post type. Erosion holes give cause for concern. [10] During the deep ploughing which knocked over the southwestern stone (reerected in 1981), two sets of triggers which were reasonably obvious to anyone looking for them were destroyed. [11] A setting of four stones, forming a quadrilateral, on a slight west facing slope above Sparcombe Water. The site is situated in reseeded pasture at 412 metres Ordnance Datum and possesses good views from the northwest to the southwest. The underlying strata are of the Hangman Grits series and the monument consists of sandstone posts. The quadrilateral has sides of 10 metres east to west, by 6.5 metres north to south, with no obvious orientation of the individual stones. There is no trace of the very slight bank between stones C and D as depicted by Burrow [4]. Setterington's plan [8] displays two points marked 'T' c. 10 metres west of the setting; there is no explanation for this on the plan. No evidence exists on the ground or in the interim excavation report to suggest that there have ever been features in these positions. [12,13] For further stones in the area see MSO10183 and MSO11260. [14] In private ownership. [15] The four stones of the setting are marked on modern MasterMap data at SS 8222 4097, SS 8222 4097, SS 8222 4096 and SS 8222 4096. [16] A quadrilateral stone setting of four stones, situated towards the top of the west facing slope of Westermill, above Orchard Bottom. All 4 stones were located, all of which are post shaped and fairly uniform in size (between 0.4 and 0.6m high). Stone D is now recumbent. These four stones are easily visible due to the grazing of the pasture. Stone A has received a significant loss to the top of the stone, which now lies at its side – likely caused by frost or vehicles. Frost may have also caused historic losses to the other stones, with an apparent loss to the top of Stone B. All upright stones are being rubbed by livestock. Especially vulnerable are stones B and C, which have both become unstable in their sockets. Stone D, however, has now fallen completely recumbent and is slowly being buried by turf. A nearby vehicle track to the site is also present, 8m from the stones. [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> Map: Ordnance Survey. Various. Annotated corrections on Ordnance Survey map. As specified. Six inch, AL Wedlake, 1 March 1955.
  • <2> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 28 June 1965.
  • <3> Technical drawing: Burrow, Ian. May 1981. Drawing HBC 3.013.-1. 1:50.
  • <4> Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B.. 1981. Somerset Archaeology 1980. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 125. 94.
  • <5> Report: Burrow, IGC and McDonnell, RRJ. December 198. Westermill Stone Setting: interim excavation report.
  • <6> Article in serial: Burrow, I and McDonnell, R. 1983. "Westermill Stone Setting" in Burrow, I, Minnitt, S and Murless, B. Somerset Archaeology 1982. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 127. 14.
  • <7> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H. 1983. Thirty Exmoor stone-settings. 3.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33602, Plan at 1:100, R Setterington, 24 August 1983.
  • <9> Article in serial: Fowler, MJ. 1988. The Standing Stones of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. 1-13.
  • <10> Monograph: RCHME . 1992. Lithic Monuments within the Exmoor National Park. SS84SW14 p37.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Setterington R A. 2/7/1990. Setterington RA, to M Fowler (2/7/1990) copy in HER files with measured plan.
  • <12> Technical drawing: Probert, S.. 1989. Westermill/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. SAJ Probert, 2 February 1989.
  • <14> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Matthew Nicholas, Somerset County Council, 26 August 2003.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33602.
  • <16> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap.
  • <17>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO11261. [Mapped features: #45605 Stone A., MSO11261; #45606 Stone B., MSO11261; #45607 Stone C., MSO11261; #45608 Stone D., MSO11261]
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36240, Extant 13 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8222 4097 (24m by 19m) (4 map features)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6732
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW14
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36240
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33602

Record last edited

Jul 13 2021 1:16PM


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