MSO6727 - Prehistoric stone setting on Almsworthy Common (Monument)


A stone setting on the southeast facing slope of Almsworthy Common, comprising about 14 small stones arranged in rows.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

[SS 84304171] Stone Circle (NR). [1] 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. [2] Scheduled. [3] 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. (See G.Ps AO/65/138/5 & 6). Surveyed at 1.2500.[4] 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. [5] 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. [6] Inconclusive pattern. [7] SS 843417. Almsworthy Stone Circle. Scheduled. [8] (SS 84304170) Stones (NR) [9] SS 84304171. A setting of 15 stones located on the gentle southeast 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. [10,11] 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. [12] Whole area covered with bracken and stones can only just be seen. [13] 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). [15] Scheduling revised with national number (was Somerset 208) on 29.4.1996. [17] Four water filled pits in the vicinty as well as an additional stone recorded. [18] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 13. [19] 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. [20] 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 [12] to be rectified onto Ordnance Survey coordinates and its orientation corrected. [21] 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. [24] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [25]

Sources/Archives (25)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> 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> Index: Ministry of Works. 1956. List of Ancient Monuments in England and Wales 1956. P. 59.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 29 June 1965.
  • <5> Monograph: Burl, A.. 1976. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. Yale University Press. p300, 347.
  • <6> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgwater. David and Charles Limited. P. 18, 39-41.
  • <7> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H. 1983. Thirty Exmoor stone-settings.
  • <8> Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 117.
  • <9> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 1:10,000 Map, 1978. 1:10,000.
  • <10> Technical drawing: Probert, S.. 1989. Almsworthy Common/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. SAJ Probert, 4 January 1989.
  • <12> Report: Quinnell, N.V. and 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> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33597.
  • <14> 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> Report: Various. Various. Field Monument Warden Report. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
  • <16> Unpublished document: Setterington. 1990. ms in HER files file.
  • <17> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 7.5.1996. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <18> Unassigned: Walker M. 23/04/1995. Almsworthy Common Amendments.
  • <19> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <20> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <21> Report: Roseveare, M.J.. 2015. Almsworthy Common Stone Setting, Exmoor National Park, Somerset: Geophysical survey report.
  • <22>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO6727. [Mapped feature: #45533 Stone Setting., MSO6727]
  • <23> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018 - Scheduled Standing Stones. MSO6727.
  • <24> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <25> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36211, Extant 12 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8430 4170 (57m by 46m)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • 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
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36211
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33597

Record last edited

Jul 12 2021 8:25PM


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