MSO6947 - Lanacombe II: Stone setting at the east end of Lanacombe (Monument)


A stone setting on a southeast facing slope at the east end of Lanacombe comprises at least five stones forming a triangular plan with several hollows.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A group of four stones are marked by H. St. George Gray at SS 7846 4286. [1] LANACOOMBE II, SS 7841 4288. A setting of four upright stones and the possible erosion hole which may indicate the position of a fifth. In plan they form a triangle with a 32.4 metre long base A-C-D (and possibly E) providing the main orientation west-north-west to east-south-east, and B giving the short apex offset 5 metres from the base. The setting is probably substantially complete. The stones occupy ground slightly raised above the surrounding rough grassland; it is greener, wetter and has rush patches. The stones are positioned at a slight angle to the fall on a moderate, southeast facing slope at the east end of Lanacoombe, below the hill crest and close to a steep fall into the adjacent valley. It commands clear views from the northeast round to the southwest, ie. up and down the valley. The stones appear to be of local, sedimentary sandstones of the Hangman Grits Series. Lanacoombe II is one of four stone settings situated along the same valley side; 330 metres west-south-west is Lanacoombe I (MSO6948); 230 metres northeast is Lanacoombe III (MSO6949) and 360 metres northeast is Lanacoombe IV (MSO6965). All but the last are visible from the present site. All are orientated west-north-west to east-south-east, a fact which could have major implications for their date, functioning and inter-relationships. A further table of information is held in the archive. [2] Four low stones 0.3 to 0.45 metres high. Three are in erosion hollows. A further hollow may indicate the position of a former stone. The westernmost stone, with a trigger or packing stone, is 18 metres distant from the others suggesting the setting was once larger. A moorland track is very close. [5] Lanacombe 2 occupies sloping ground on the south-facing flank of Lanacombe. It was surveyed at 1:100 scale by the RCHME in 1988. Since then a suggested amendment has been received: a further stone hollow has been noted to the east of stones B and C. A field investigation in July 1994 confirms the previously unrecorded stone hollow. In addition, the stone hollow (E), surveyed in 1988, was not visible. The 1988 survey has been redrawn at 1:100 scale with these alterations and additions. [6-8] From plan, three stones and the hollow lie on alignment suggesting a row. A second hollow recorded in 1993 lies on alignment with the fourth stone, suggesting perhaps a former double row. [9] English Heritage schedule 5 stones at this location. [10] In March 1995 the condition was the same as reported in 1993. [11] Scheduled on 28 March 1996. [12] A survey into the condition of the stones records livestock as the only threat. [14] The 2009 excavation opened three trenches at Lanacombe II: T50E (SS 7837 4288), T50W (SS 7836 4287), T52 (SS 7839 4286). Where features were uncovered they have been redorded separately. [16] A proposal for limited excavation was put forward following damaged to the stones. The fieldwork was planned for the 16-21st April 2007 and had the following aims: To examine the morphology of the stone holes and the technology used to erect the stones; to look for dating and associated activity evidence; to recover material for environmental sampling from any sealed contexts; to assess the damage to the stones and critically investigate the possibility for re-erection. The excavation would be preceded by a resistivity and magnetometry survey of the entire setting. [17] Excavation of the fallen stone C revealed a ramped stonehole where the stone had been placed along the vertical side and bedded into place using selected stones and the material dug from the hole. Damage to the base and profile of the stonehole means it is not possible to establish when the stone was originally erected upright or with a lean. The excavation revealed large flat stones that formed a perimeter around the stonehole cut. Stone C was re-erected in it’s last recorded position. [18] Resistance survey showed a clear relationship between setting location and underlying geology. The survey also revealed linear high resistance features to the west of the setting. It has been suggested that theses features show a fragment of rectilinear field system. Their intermittent nature systems they are cairn defined rather than continuous stone features. [19] The geophysical surveys revealed a dense series of features in the vicinity of known stone settings. This suggests that instead of being isolated ritual monuments, the settings could have been part of a ‘busy’ landscape and the tradition of erecting stones was part of inhabiting and marking the land. The surveys also revealed a strong correlation between the positioning of settings and the underlying geology. The settings are located on areas of shallow bedrock and surface clitter which, before the accumulation of peat on the moor, would have been areas of enhanced visibility. The significance of this correlation is at present unclear. [20] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 4. [21] The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 7. [22] A row of 4 stones and two hollows, which may have once been a double stone row, is situated on the east facing slope of Lanacombe. The rows orientation is roughly west-east down the valley with a large gap between Stone A and the rest of the setting. All four stones were found at this site, but with Stone A now knocked recumbent. This fall was attributed to rubbing, but it could have resulted from vehicle damage. There is some evidence for rubbing on the stones, with slight hollows around Stones B and C. [23-24] 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. [25] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [26] The site is included in a 2023 Condition Survey [27]

Sources/Archives (26)

  • <1> Map: Gray, H.St.G.. 1905. Gray's Annotated Ordnance Survey 6 Inch Map. 1:10560. Sheet 33SW 1905.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Pattison, P. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 7 December 1988.
  • <3> Article in serial: Fowler, M.J.F.. 1988/1989. The Standing Stones of Exmoor: A Provisional Catalogue of 62 West Somerset Sites. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. 1-13 (Exmoor 20).
  • <4> 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.
  • <5> Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme.
  • <6> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1994. Lanacombe, SS 74 SE 49-51, 73, 88, 92-94, 105-106, 108, 122/ink survey. 1:2500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1994. Lanacombe II/ink Survey. 1:100. General: Paper. Photocopy.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 6 July 1994.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Walker, M.. 1993. Details Received at RCHME Exeter.
  • <10> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Walker, M.. 14/03/1995. Letter to Somerset County Council.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Various. Scheduled Monument Notification . English Heritage, 24 April 1996, English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <13> Survey: RCHME. 1996. Exmoor Survey. NMR site SS 74 SE 50.
  • <14> Report: Blackmore, O.. 2002. A Condition Survey of Standing Stones on Exmoor National Park Authority Owned Land. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <15> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 1995. English Heritage Record Form. 22 November 1995.
  • <16> Report: Gillings, M., Taylor, J. + Pollard, J.. 2009. The Miniliths of Exmoor Project: Report on the 2009 Excavations.
  • <18> Report: Gillings, M., Pollard, J. + Taylor, J.. 2007. Excavation and Survey at the Stone Settings of Lanacombe I and III.
  • <19> Report: Gillings, M.. 2009. Report for English Heritage on Geophysical Surveys carried out at the sites of Lanacombe II and III, Exmoor. P. 3-4.
  • <20> Report: Gillings, M., Taylor, J. + Pollard, J.. 2009. The Miniliths of Exmoor Project: Report on the 2009 Excavations. P. 5.
  • <21> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <22> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <23>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. Exmoor National Park Authority. MSO6947. [Mapped features: #45758 Stone A., MSO6947; #45759 Stone B., MSO6947; #45760 Stone C., MSO6947; #45761 Stone D., MSO6947]
  • <24> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018 - Scheduled Standing Stones. MSO6947.
  • <25> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <26> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 867252, Extant 26 May 2021.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10974
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE50
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 867252
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33113



Grid reference Centred SS 2784 1429 (39m by 21m) (4 map features)
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (2)

Record last edited

Feb 15 2024 2:19PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.