MSO11738 - Wester Shircombe deserted farmstead, Hawkridge (Monument)


The possible deserted farmstead is first mentioned in a lease of 1775. The field contains a number of rectangular field boundaries with a system of curving ridges underlying them, which may represent a system of medieval strip fields.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

Hawkridge tithe map shows present farm as East Shircombe. It is depicted as a single building coloured grey at c. SS 8462 3083 and a further structure to the east, at c. SS 8466 3082. [1] There is only a field name at the location above but likely that there was a farm here. [2] Centred at SS 8430 3100, between Cloggs Farm and Shircombe Farm, on the northern side of Danes Brook is a rectangular field called Wester Shircombe, which extends to 16.5 hectares. The site is not mentioned in the Lay Subsidy of 1325, but a lease of 1775 refers to a messuage called West Shercomb. By 1840 the field is shown as it is now and is listed separately from the other farms. The field has been improved since the 1960s but air photography show it to be covered in a number of rectangular field boundaries. Underlying these is a system of curving ridges running on a north to south alignment up and down the valley sides. These features are barely traceable on the ground but where they are visible appear to be some 20 metres apart and curve distinctly at the downslope end. They may represent a system of strip cultivation and their curving ends would imply a medieval rather than later date. The fact that these ridges cover most of the field makes the whereabouts of Wester Shircombe farmstead problematic. [3,4] Earthwork remains of relict field boundaries which appear to overlie the remains of strip fields, the banks of which are visible as low earthworks aligned northnortheast to southsouthwest running down the slope. Within these strip fields traces of ridge and furrow is visible on two vertical photos. The site slopes southwards, the gradient gradually increasing down slope, then suddenly drops at a long linear banked boundary which runs across the slope for the length of the field. To the southwest is a short length of hollow way or track leading into the strip fields from a bridge over the brook. To the southeast of the survey area there are several linear banks, probably lynchets with fragments of perpendicular banks. A 1:2500 scale level 3 photogrammetric survey was carried out on the field known as Wester Shircombe situated on the southern edge of Exmoor. Copies of the plan, digital files and accompanying report are held by RCHME (Collection 1031546). [5-7] The earthwork remains of relict field boundaries of probable post-medieval date are visible on aerial photographs, dividing the field known as Wester Shircombe into 5 or 6 smaller subrectangular fields along a northwest to southeast axis. The banks overlie, and appear to be based upon, a system of almost completely levelled curvilinear strip field boundary banks, orientated roughly northnortheast to southsouthwest. The strip field banks are spaced at intervals of between 20 and 25 metres. As described by [5], traces of ridge and furrow can be seen within a number of the strip fields, most clearly at circa SS 8415 3097, SS 8424 3094 and SS 8422 3110. Subtle earthwork remains extending northwards from Wester Shircombe may indicate that the strip fields were previously much more extensive in this area. The earthworks appear to have been levelled by 1972, although they can still in evidence as cropmarks. [6,8-11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Map: 1841. Hawkridge Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <2> Article in serial: Aston, M.. 1983. Deserted Farmsteads on Exmoor and the Lay Subsidy of 1327 in West Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 127. 102.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 20 July 1995.
  • <4> Report: Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Lyshwell and Shircombe: Deserted Farmsteads and Field Systems .
  • <5> Report: Small, F.. 1995. Wester Shircombe. An Archaeological Survey. Air Photographic Transcription and Analysis.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR CPE/UK/2082 3040-1 (19 May 1947).
  • <7> Survey: North Lyshwell/ink survey . 1:500. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1420 3458-9 (15 April 1946).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72314 377-8 (16 August 1972).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR MAL 76068 044-5 (4 August 1976).
  • <11> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 SW. MD002197.



Grid reference Centred SS 843 310 (659m by 561m) (Aerial survey)
Map sheet SS83SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO512
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO8744
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SW36
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1051976
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34306

Record last edited

Apr 19 2021 10:47PM


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