MSO12410 - Medieval and post-medieval packhorse road south of Dure Down (Monument)


An extensive area of curvilinear packhorse tracks leading northeast from Exe Head. These likely formed part of the route between Challacombe and Porlock.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Centred at SS 7523 4168 is an extensive area of curvilinear packhorse tracks on the south side of Exe Head. They were first recorded during a recent archaeological survey of the Exe Head/Lanacombe area [1]. The ways consist of "ditch" like hollows from 2 metres to 4.5 metres wide and up to 1.3 metres deep. They curve out of the marshy bottom of Exe Head and run obliquely (generally northwest to southeast) up the northern slopes of Dure Down. Burton [2] records the major routes across the moor in 1785, and it is clear that these ways correspond with the principal west-south-west to east-north-east route from Challacombe to Porlock. Exe Head would have provided a topographically convenient crossing place between The Chains to the west and the deep Exe valley to the east. [3] The full route of the road is shown on the 1818 Inclosure map. It is shown passing northeast through Exe Head (the southwestern section is recorded as MSO7126) and then making its way northeast towards Brendon Two Gates, taking a slight detour to the east to cross the Exe in a slight bend in the river, at (very) approximately SS 7590 4167. At Brendon Two Gates it met The Brendon Road; this used to run almost directly southsoutheast from this point towards Prey Way Head. [4,5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Report: McDonnell, R.. 1993/4. Archaeological Survey of Exe Plain/Lanacombe. Field record number 46.
  • <2> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. Illustration, opposite 33.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 June 1994.
  • <4>XY Map: Kelsey, F.J.. 1818. The Map Referred to in the annexed Award [Exmoor Inclosure Award]. 4 inches : 1 mile. Pen and Ink. [Mapped feature: #46727 ]
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 7 October 2020.



Grid reference Centred SS 7583 4238 (1350m by 1752m)
Map sheet SS74SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7101
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE121
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1039686
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35606

Record last edited

Oct 7 2020 1:50PM


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