MSO12270 - World War Two training earthworks west of Porlock Stone Circle (Monument)


Evidence of miltary training exists in the form of circular mounds and depressions arranged in grid like patterns over an extensive area of Porlock Common.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Linear radiating depressions. The larger were irregular but square ended trenches 2 metres wide, 19 metres long and 0.75 metres deep, spoil on both sides. The smaller were 2 metres wide, 3-4 metres long and 0.3 metres deep. [1] Evidence of military training of Second World War date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s and 1950s. The evidence takes the form of oval and circular earthwork mounds and depressions, arranged in rows or grid-like patterns over approximately 10 hectares of Porlock Common, centred approximately on SS 8439 4467. The precise nature of the earthworks is not always clear, with most resembling areas of surface disturbance or clearance rather than true earthwork mounds or ditches. However, some of the larger oval or rectilinear features do appear to be have some height, and range in size from 10 to 20 metres long, but are rarely more than 4 metres wide. They are arranged or constructed in rows, within which they are spaced between 60 and 70 metres apart. The rectilinear features visible to the south of the group are significantly smaller, at roughly 4 metres long and 2 wide, and appear to be slight hollows or scrapes spaced about 10 metres apart. The circular features resemble shallow bomb craters of about 8 metres diameter, arranged in rows of four between 25 and 30 metres apart. The function of any of these earthworks and the nature of the training activities which occurred here remain unclear. One possibility is that they are associated with infantry training, perhaps in use as rifle butts. A second area of very similar features, probably part of the same training area, is visible approximately 500 metres to the southeast (MMO2530). Small numbers of craters, probably associated with the firing ranges to the east, are visible scattered throughout this possible training area, and are assumed not to be contemporary. [2-5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 4206 (13 May 1946).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4085-6 (11 Jul 1946).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3054-5 (8 Nov 1952).
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #39017 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478276, Extant 12 July 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2531
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW280
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478276
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35339



Grid reference Centred SS 8436 4470 (273m by 559m)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Mar 17 2022 2:50PM


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