MSO6899 - Buscombe Beeches, Lanacombe (Monument)


A large and elaborate rectangular embanked enclosure is visible on south facing slopes.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A large rectangular embanked enclosure noted on air photos. (1, 6) A rectangular enclosure is situated at SS 7819 4254 on the south facing slopes of Lanacombe. It is described by R. A. Burton:"This enclosure measures approximately 130 yards by 80 yards. All the sides curve inwards, with the banks being carried on outwards beyond the corners of the enclosed area. On the extended corners beech trees have been planted, but apart from these the banks are bare. Four more trees were planted inside the enclosure; two near the centre of the north boundar, and two more, one each side of the west entrance. A small building was formerly attached to the NW corner but this has long since disappeared." (2) The enclosure measures approximately 102 metres by 66 metres, and is defined by prominent earthen banks, 3 metres wide and 1.2 metres high, which have been faced externally with edge set stones. An internal ditch, 1.4 metres wide and 0.3 metres deep, is visible on all sides. The entrance lies on the west and is 2 metres wide; each corner has well formed terminals faced with stones. The enigmatic shape of the enclosure is as described by Burton. There is no explanation for this shape, although the corner projections may provide shelter for sheep whatever the direction of the wind. This observation perhaps suggests that the enclosure was a sheepfold, but if so, its shape is unique on Exmoor. The building referred to by Burton has indeed disappeared.Surveyed at 1;2500. (2-3) The enclosure described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs, and has been tentatively identified as a sheepfold. However, given the size of the enclosure is several times larger than other sheep folds and stells on Exmoor this is by no means certain. The elaborate construction of the curved walls and projections on the corners seem to suggest a more artistic function (4). Shown as being walled on 6" map. (7) This sheepfold is unusual, being rectangular with splayed banks. It is very similar to one located in the Borders of Scotland, suggesting that this sheepfold was created by the Scottish shepherds who were brought to Exmoor by Frederic Knight sometime during the 1860s. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. AP.CPE.UK.1980 3158. April 1947.
  • <2> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 120-1.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Wilson-North, R. 09/08/1994.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 868-69. 29-APR-1973.
  • <5> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183.
  • <6> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7842.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. 6" SS74SE.
  • <8> Monograph: Siraut, M.. Royal Forest, Exmoor: A guide to the Royal Forest of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority. 34.



Grid reference Centred SS 7819 4252 (114m by 136m)
Map sheet SS74SE

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Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO624
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10972
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE73
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1102068
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33111

Record last edited

Nov 6 2013 10:29AM


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