MSO12161 - Possible prehistoric stone alignment at Bill Hill (Monument)


Two standing stones have been noted in a naturally stony area. It is not clear whether they were once part of a larger stone alignment or setting. Three low mounds in the vicinity are thought to be natural features.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 7234 4083. The remains of a possible stone row was discovered in October 1986 as a result of a MAFF consultation. Two stones survive, 11.35 metres apart, on an approximate north to south alignment. The northern stone is 0.29 metres high and stands vertically while the southern stone is 0.39 metres high and has a slight lean. Both are well embedded and are of similar dimensions to others seen elsewhere on Exmoor. [1] Probing by H Eardley-Wilmot revealed the presence of five further stones spaced equidistant between the two uprights. They appear to be buried c 0.10 metres below the surface. No additional stones could be identified beyond the terminal stones although there are some small mounds in the immediate vicinity. [2] SS 7231 4080 Two stones, aligned northwest to southeast and set 10.5 metres apart. They are situated on a slight slope in rough grassland at the eastern end of the tongue of Bill Hill close to the lip of a steep fall to the River Barle. There are distant 360 degree views especially along the river valley. In size and form the stones are typical of Exmoor's prehistoric monuments but whether they are part of a setting or row cannot now be deduced. Probing revealed no evidence of fallen stones between A and B. Immediately east of stone B are three, low subcircular mounds all apparently of turf and soil. They are between 0.85 and 3.5 metres long and 0.2 to 0.4 metres high. The archaeological significance of these features is not known but they are probably not of great antiquity. [4] The stones are firmly set about 10.5 metres apart and stand 0.32 metres and 0.25 metres high. Both are about 0.15 metres wide and 0.05 metres thick with the south leaning about 20 degrees to the east. Further probing failed to located any intermediate stones. Three turf mounds to the northeast have no obvious archaeological significance. A further table of information on the stones is held in the archive. [5,6] SS 7231 4081. Two stones, at about 410 metres above Ordnance Datum, on the northeastern flanks of Bill Hill overlooking Short Combe. They are basically as described and planned at 1:100 by Pattison [4] except they are 11.5 metres apart and not 10.5 metres as stated. SS 72314 40806. Stone A is a rhoboidal sectioned slate post, 0.40 metres long, 0.15 metres wide and 0.05 metres thick. It has a rounded top and is firmly set but leans to the west (sic), about 20 degrees from the vertical, so is 0.32 metres high. SS 72307 40816. Stone B is a firmly set thin tapering slate slab, 0.25 metres high, 0.2 metres wide at its base and 0.04 metres thick. No other stones could be seen in the vicinity and probing revealed the surface below the turf was naturally quite stony. The surrounding area is covered by a thick layer of turf and peat and probing for other stones under these conditions is completely misleading because stones can be felt almost anywhere by probing. Although it is often the case that some stones are hidden just below the turf and become apparent in times of drought, extreme caution should be taken not to enhance what may be no more than the simplest of rows, or setting, into something more complex on such slight evidence. The three low mounds are most probably natural. Surveyed at 1:2500. [7] In private ownership. [8] This site was noted to be badly damaged during the Exmoor Standing Stone condition survey, and that the two nearby upright stones are likely modern erections. Two standing stones and 3 low turf mounds were once recorded here, possibly forming part of a stone row, located just above the lip of Bill Hill, overlooking the valley leading towards Pinkery. The site is almost completely destroyed, with two stones now broken and recumbent, which are very difficult to locate in the rough grass and rushes. The possible stones in-between were not located by probing which suggests a tenuous identification of a row (Table 1; figs. 3-4). Perhaps related to the destruction event, two modern standing stones (MEM24434 & MEM24435) have been erected nearby. [9-10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, Somerset County Council, 18 November 1986.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H. 26.11.1986 a. Eardley-Wilmot, H to SMR.
  • <3> Article in serial: Dennison, E. 1987. Somerset Archaeology 1987. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 131. 210.
  • <4> Technical drawing: Pattison, P.. 1989. Bill Hill/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Pattison, P. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 6 January 1989.
  • <6> Monograph: RCHME . 1992. Lithic Monuments within the Exmoor National Park. SS74SW88, 52.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 29 June 1995.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <9> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. HER Input Form: Two Modern Standing Stones on Bill Hill.
  • <10>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO12161. [Mapped features: #43552 Stone A., MSO12161; #43553 Stone B., MSO12161]
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 870614, Extant 13 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 7231 4081 (13m by 18m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6960
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW88
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 870614
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35069

Record last edited

Jan 13 2022 10:39AM


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