MSO6834 - The Chains Valley Stone Setting (Monument)


A stone setting on a north facing slope between the Chains Valley and Exe Head, comprising thirteen stones arranged in three rows set five metres apart. They vary from ground level to 0.6 metres in height, and perhaps only eight are still in situ.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 749 417. There is a possible triple stone row, some 162 feet long, situated between the Chains Valley and Exe Head. (Lat. 51 deg 9' 39.5": Long. 3 deg 47' 22.25"). It more nearly recalls the Dartmoor stone rows than any other group on Exmoor (see plan). [1] The 13 stones in this group at approx SS 7490 4170 are arranged in three rows set 5 metres apart. They vary from ground level to 0.6 metres high and certainly bear some resemblance to the Dartmoor rows. Surveyed at 1/2500. See AO/65/128/5. [2] Centred SS 7491 4177. An outstanding stone setting of 13 visible stones (the fallen stone shown on the plan [1] was not located) situated on a northeast hillslope. Surveyed at 1:2500 on PFD. [3] SS 747 416. Stone setting at Chains Valley, alias Short Chains Combe. E Mold saw only 7 stones in 1982. (Despite Eardley-Wilmot's NGR, it would seem from his description of the site that he is referring to that described by sources [1-3]). [4] SS 7491 4177. The remains of a stone setting lie on a gentle north facing slope of rough grassland at about 445 metres above sea level, some 150 metres due southeast of the Chains Valley which it overlooks. There are extensive views from the northwest around to the east. All the stones are of fine to medium grained sandstone. Of the fourteen shown by Chanter and Worth [1] only eight are still in situ; two are now loose and fallen but probably positionally correct. No trace was seen of three stones which may be hidden by heavy peat and turf growth. Also missing is stone `K' but it appears from plan comparison (see authority [1] and ([6] - possibly source [9]?) brought to the same scale) that it may have been misplotted by Chanter and should have been at `P' where a stone is laid in the turf. Although authority [1]'s plan apparently depicts the stones correctly it is not in fact an accurate survey. Several of the stones can be sighted along to form conjectural rows and though this is an unusually long setting, the configuration and disposition of the remains cannot confirm Chanters premise [1]. A further table of information on the stones is held in the archive. [6,7] SS 74914177. A stone setting basically as described, tabulated and planned by the RCHME [6] in 1989. The stone (H) originally plotted by Chanter and Worth [1] in 1906 but not visible in 1989 is again evident. It is the tip, about 0.18 metres wide by 0.04 metres, of a possible broken stump protruding through the turf some 0.08 metres high. (Note: Stone G was misplotted on the 1:100 plan of 1989 and and has been correctly positioned in the revised survey). Stone E and stone P appear to be the same stone that has been moved. Survey Action 1:100 Survey [6] Revised 1:2500 Survey. [8,9] Visits in 1995 failed to locate RCHME's stone P but did find stone E planned in 1906. Walker mentions a stone 'E', measurements of which are almost identical to stone 'P' of previous RCHME survey, and which was in situ on 3 May 1995. It looks as if it was moved to 'E' before 9 August 1995 but is undoubtedly the same stone. [10] A linear grouping of stones in an irregular setting. Eight earthfast stones from 0.12 to 0.63 metres high, and three fallen stones 0.2 to 0.7 metres long. [11] A double ended setting of fourteen stones, with a central large stone 0.7 metres high. The south-west end (uphill) forms Y shape of generally larger stones, the north-east forms a wine-glass shape of smaller stones, both with neck ending at central stone. A very similar setting 1300 metres north above Gammon's Corner. Both are part of a group of five settings around the upper Hoaroak Valley on the same pair of axes. [12] Scheduled on 28 March 1996. [13] The setting consists of 11 stones, of which 4 are loctaed in erosion hollows. Stones J and I are in active erosion hollows. Stone N is split in two, either through extreme frost damage or vehicle damage. [14] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 7. [16] 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. [17] A stone setting arranged in a row on a north-south alignment, once comprising 13 stones, of which only 5 were located, on a north facing slope towards the eastern side of The Chains. These stones vary greatly in height with the largest standing 0.5m high, and the smallest standing 0.05m high. Spacing between the stones is somewhat irregular due to the apparent absence of Stones A, D, G, L, P, N. The condition of this setting is considered poor due to the gradual loss of stones within the thick rushes that cover the site. The only stone with visible damage is Stone J, which has received some frost-thaw damage to the top of the stone. [18-19] The site was surveyed as part of an academic research project by Dr Sandy Gerrard in 2018. Surveys were conducted using a prismatic compass and electronic distance device with the plan being generated in the field. [20] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [21] The site was investigated and surveyed in January 2020. Five stones were recorded by GPS (A, G, I, J and M), together with a previously unrecorded small circular mound to the southeast of the stone setting (MEM25025). Several of the stones showed signs of damage by various means, with Stone J having been damaged between 2018 and 2019. This stone was reset on 21 February 2020 as part of the Monuments Management Scheme works for 2018-2020. A plan of the setting was surveyed at a scale of 1:200, with a further plan of its landscape context, including a 19th Century drainage ditch and the probable cairn, surveyed at 1:500. [22] Stone J in The Chains Valley stone setting was reported as broken on 18 July 2019. The stone had snapped off at ground level and had probably been hit by a vehicle or machine. The stone was reset on 21 February 2020 as part of the Monuments Management Scheme 2018- 2020. [23]

Sources/Archives (23)

  • <1> Article in serial: Chanter, J.F. and Worth, R.H.. 1906. The Rude Stone Monuments of Exmoor and its Borders. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. II, pp 538-552. P. 544.
  • <2> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 7 July 1965.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Fletcher, M.J.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F2, 5 February 1975.
  • <4> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H. 1983. Thirty Exmoor stone-settings. P. 2.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1980. 1:10,000 SS74SW.
  • <6> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1989. The Chains Valley/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 9 January 1989.
  • <8> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1995. The Chains Valley stone setting/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 May 1995.
  • <10> Unassigned: Walker, M.. 09/08/1995. Exmoor Lithic Monuments Record Form.
  • <11> 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. SS74SW2. P. 40-41.
  • <12> Survey: Preece A. 1992. Exmoor Forest Estate (Simonsbath) Survey.
  • <13> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 24/04/1996. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <14> Survey: Blackmore O A. 2002. Condition Survey of Standing Stones on Exmoor National Park Authority Owned Land.
  • <15> Article in serial: Fowler, MJ. 1988. The Standing Stones of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. P. 1-13 (Exmoor 5).
  • <16> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <17> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.
  • <18>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO6834. [Mapped features: #45565 Stone B., MSO6834; #45566 Stone C., MSO6834; #45567 Stone I., MSO6834; #45568 Stone J., MSO6834; #45569 Stone M., MSO6834]
  • <19> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018 - Scheduled Standing Stones. MSO6834.
  • <20> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <21> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35316 , Extant 21 June 2021.
  • <22> Report: Riley, H.. 2020. Metric survey of three prehistoric stone settings, Exmoor National Park. Hazel Riley.
  • <23> Report: Blaylock, S.. 2021. HER Input Form: Resetting of broken stone (stone J) in SM 1014278 Chains Valley Stone Alignment. Exmoor National Park Authority.



Grid reference Centred SS 7492 4177 (57m by 66m) (6 map features)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (7)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10892
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW2
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35316
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33031

Record last edited

Jun 21 2021 3:12PM


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