MSO6903 - Circular Tower, Great Ashcombe, Simonsbath (Monument)


A circular tower north of Simonsbath, which may have been used as an agricultural building, a storage building, a shooting tower or a folly.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

A circular building is shown on the 1978 Ordnance Survey 25 inch map. (1) The building comprises a cylindrical tower with a doorway of Victorian Gothic, window slits and a slate doorstep. Its precise function is unclear; it has been interpreted as either an agricultural building or a folly. (2) The Round House is a small building of 12 feet in diameter internally. The openings are not windows, but putlog holes for scaffolding. The holes in the doorstep indicate an iron gate. It was probably a store where things were kept under lock and key. It is believed to have been built by John Knight in about 1825, at the eastern end of the intended leat from Pinkworthy Pond, as part of his plans for an Exmoor railway, and was probably used by the surveyors. (3) This building may have been used as a shooting tower from which to kill deer. (4) Centred at SS 7695 4040 are the remains of a stone tower. The structure lies close to, and on the west side of the modern road running north out of Simonsbath. It is a circular structure 4 metres in diameter (wall centre to wall centre). The walls, which are of thin coursed stone with lime mortar, are 0.4 metres thick, and stand to a maximum of 3.2 metres on the eastern side and 1.1 metre high on the west. On the east is a doorway with an arched head of cut stone. It is 1.95 metres high and 1.15 metres wide. The threshold, which is 0.45 metres above the external ground level, comprises a single slab with two holes which presumably accommodated a wooden door-frame. Set in the wall directly over the arched opening is an edge set stone which may have carried a plaque or inscription; nothing is now visible on it. No internal features are visible within the tower, such as windows or a staircase. However, three square slots into the wall are visible 1.6 metres above the internal floor. The function of these is not clear, but they may be joist holes for an upper floor, although there does not seem to be sufficient numbers of them to have functioned in this way. The date and function of the tower is not clear. It seems likely to have been a folly or viewing tower, but of course this would not preclude its use in a hunting context. (5) A survey of the tower was carried out by Jonathon Rhind Conservation Architects in 3rd October 2011. Overall the survey found the structure to be stable but heavily weathered. The report recommends repointing of the weathered joints to protect the structure. (7) The report was updated June 2015 [8].

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. Ordnance Survey plan. 1:2500. SS7640.
  • <2> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. Eardley-Wilmot, H. 19/01/1983.
  • <3> Monograph: Beazley and Peck. The Round House.
  • <4> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P.70-71 and plate opposite P.63.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Wilson-North, R. 09/08/1994.
  • <6> Survey: RCHME. 1996. Exmoor Survey. NMR site SS 74 SE.
  • <7> Report: Rhind, J.. 2012. Simonsbath, Exmoor: Condition Survey of Simonsbath Tower.
  • <8> Report: Julia Humphries. 2015. Condition Survey and Schedule of Works Simonsbath Tower, Exmoor.



Grid reference Centred SS 7695 4039 (11m by 10m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS74SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE113
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE78
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1038420
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1102179
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33184

Record last edited

Sep 27 2016 1:32PM


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