MSO6727 - Prehistoric stone setting on Almsworthy Common (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
[SS 84304171] Stone Circle (NR).  This stone circle was discovered in 1931. The centre of the monument is circa 600 feet west-north-west of a parish boundary, and the stones are arranged in three concentric ellipses [See Illustrations Card,] totalling 13 stones with an outlier (No 14) to the eastsoutheast.  Scheduled.  This is a group of 14 small stones set upright in the ground, but they do not form an obvious pattern. The largest is 0.7 metres high and the smallest is only just visible above ground. Surveyed at 1.2500. St. George Gray's contention that they form three concentric ellipses does not seem to be borne out on the ground, and would suggest that this arrangement is more 'contrived' than actual. The "slight mound" shown on St. George Gray's plan cannot be seen on the ground. The stones on Almsworthy Common allegedly consist of three concentric ovals, the outer measuring 34.1 metres by 28.7 metres. But of sixteen or more stones of this theoretical ring only six of the outer, three of the central and four 21]of the inner circle exist, a total of thirteen stones with one other 4.9 metres eastsoutheast of the setting. If the site is truly a triple concentric then it is unique amongst the freestanding stone rings of the British Isles.  In 1939 PJD Way surveyed the site and reassessed it as a rectilinear stone setting, 'perhaps a number of parallel stone rows', rather than a stone circle. As a prehistoric stone circle the site is an anomaly and there seem to be insufficient stones to support Gray's ellipses.  Inconclusive pattern.  A setting of 15 stones located on the gentle south-east facing slope of Almsworthy Common. The site at 434 metres above sea level is situated in low heather and possesses good views to the south and south-west. The underlying strata are of the Hangman Grit series, the posts and slabs of the monument consisting of sandstone with quartzite veins. The monument appears to comprise 4 rows running roughly northnorthwest to southsoutheast, their individual orientations varying by several degrees. The rows vary from between 6 to 9 metres apart with stones probably originating at intervals of 6 to 7.5 metres. There is no specific orientation of the individual stones which are apparently staggered from row to row. There is no indication as to the original length of the rows, the longest remaining, on the east margin of the site, measures 30 metres. The overall width of the site is approximately 24 metres. There are no other features visible in the immediate area. Stone P may have originally been part of this setting.  Fourteen earthfast stones, one loose. Form four rows with slightly differing orientations. Both slab and post stones, 0.1-0.7 metres high, erosion hollows around nine. A vehicle track crosses the southwest of site.  Whole area covered with bracken and stones can only just be seen.  There are 12 stones in an upright position and two barely visible at ground level, also 1 loose stone. The 12 larger stones are up to 0.5 metres high and in general triangular in shape. The stones do not form a circle. A low curving bank was seen to the south-west (MSO6735).  Scheduling revised with national number (was Somerset 208) on 29.4.1996.  Four water filled pits in the vicinty as well as an additional stone recorded.  The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 13.  The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 9.  An earth resistance survey of the site was undertaken by the National Trust in November 2014. The stone setting was noted to have been affected by an extant trackway, which might have displaced and buried some of the stones and the survey aimed to ascertain whether any context for the surviving stones survived below the ground. An attempt was also made to deploy radar on the site but this was not possible due to the vegetation conditions. The survey noted that the soil was extremely thin and wet, meaning very little of obvious archaeological interest was seen. Two linear trends were, however, noted, one of which corresponded to a line of stones. The work also allowed the 1992 survey  to be rectified onto Ordnance Survey coordinates and its orientation corrected.  A stone setting situated on Almsworthy Common, divided in its lower half by the Macmillan Way. The stones are largely sandstone with quartz veins. 15 stones have been recorded here, but only 14 were noted on this site visit. The site has changed little since 2015. Stone P is still missing from its original location, however it is possible that it is the recumbent stone slab next to Stone H. Erosion from the Macmillan way still affects the site. Several stones have also suffered from rubbing (B, H, J, L, M, N) from grazing livestock. Frost damage may have split Stone I, but this could also have been caused by off-road vehicles. [22-23] The site was surveyed as part of an academic research project by Dr Sandy Gerrard in 2019. Surveys were conducted using a prismatic compass and electronic distance device with the plan being generated in the field. 
- <1> SEM7220 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
- <2> SSO1197 Article in serial: Gray, H.St.G. 1931. Rude Stone Monuments of Exmoor (Somerset Portion). Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 77. plate 15.
- <3> SEM7752 Index: Ministry of Works. 1956. List of Ancient Monuments in England and Wales 1956. P. 59.
- <4> SMO7319 Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 29 June 1965.
- <5> SMO4084 Monograph: Burl, A.. 1976. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. Yale University Press.
- <6> SMO4578 Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. P. 18, 39-41.
- <7> SSO1104 Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H. 1983. Thirty Exmoor stone-settings.
- <8> SEM7732 Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 117.
- <9> SSO1446 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 1:10,000 Map, 1978. 1:10,000.
- <10> SMO5111 Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. SAJ Probert, 4 January 1989.
- <11> SMO5496 Survey: Almsworthy Common/ink survey . 1:100. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
- <12> SMO5658 Monograph: Quinnell, N.V. + Dunn, C.J.. 1992. Lithic Monuments within the Exmoor National Park: A New Survey for Management Purposes by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. P. 37.
- <13> SSO1 Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33597.
- <14> SSO1175 Article in serial: Fowler, MJ. 1988. The Standing Stones of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. P. 1-13 (Exford 1).
- <15> SSO1247 Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
- <16> SSO1913 Unpublished document: Setterington. 1990. ms in HER files file.
- <17> SSO1158 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 7.5.1996. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
- <18> SSO1966 Unassigned: Walker M. 23/04/1995. Almsworthy Common Amendments.
- <19> SEM7402 Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
- <20> SEM8278 Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.
- <21> SEM8328 Report: Roseveare, M.J.. 2015. Almsworthy Common Stone Setting, Exmoor National Park, Somerset: Geophysical survey report.
- <22>XY SEM8523 Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO6727. [Mapped feature: #45533 Stone Setting., MSO6727]
- <23> SEM8602 Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018 - Scheduled Standing Stones. MSO6727.
- <24> SEM340770 Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 8430 4170 (57m by 46m)|
|Civil Parish||EXFORD, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (0)
Related Events/Activities (4)
External Links (2)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=36211 (Pastscape entry: 36211)
- https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/HBSMR/MonRecord.aspx?uid=MNA155599 (National Trust HER entry: MNA155599)
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11256
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW3
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- National Trust HER Record: MNA155599
- Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 36211
- Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33597
Record last edited
Jul 13 2020 1:12PM
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