MSO6989 - Hoaroak Hill Sheepfold (Monument)


A large circular sheepfold is visible as a substantial earthwork.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Small circular banked enclosure with entrance in northwest corner. [1-3] SS 7457 4313. A sheepfold shown and annotated 'Sheepfold' on the 1890 Ordnance Survey map [4]. It is set on a slight shelf, about 360 metres above Ordnance Datum, on a northeast facing slope in an area of rough grass and bracken. It is 18 metres in diameter within a turf bank 3 metres wide and up to 1.1 metres high. The turf has come from a surrounding external ditch about 2 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep. There is a causewayed entrance about 1 metres wide at the northwest. It is reminiscent of sheep stells in the Scottish Borders and probably dates from the late 19th Century when it was introduced to the moor by the Scottish shepherds brought in by Frederick Knight. Published Survey 1:2500 accepted. [5] The circular sheepfold, as described above, is clearly visible on aerial photographs. According to Burton [6], Robert Little, a shepherd from Dumfries-shire employed by Frederic Knight in the mid-19th century, mentions the construction of circular sheep stells as an inexpensive method of farming sheep in his notebook in 1879. It seems likely that he introduced this particular technique to Exmoor, perhaps as a direct result of the adverse weather conditions in 1878, in which many sheep were lost on Exmoor. [6-8] This site is mentioned in the 2013 report by Hazel Riley, a field survey and synthesis of previous projects in the Hoaroak Valley, funded by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme. [9] The sheepfold is depicted and labelled at SS 7457 4312 on 2020 MasterMap data. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11] The heritage asset was assessed for inclusion on the Exmoor Local Heritage List in February 2024. It was noted that for it's age it is moderately distinctive for 19th century shepherding and is distinctive in it's design but that other examples of oval/round enclosures do exist. It was deemed to have high historical association with Knight and named Scottish shepherds as well as Hoar Oak Cottage. It's evidential value is not complex but otherwise poorly documented so physical remains are significant. It is deemed to have high social communal value as it is associated with the shepherding at Hoar Oak Cottage which itself has higher ranking Social and Communal ranking for its significance to the 'Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage'. On PROW and well-known. It is also deemed to have high collective value being one of a group of sheep folds or stells developed on the Knight Estate in the former Royal Forest . It was decided to add the asset to the Local Heritage List. [12]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3078.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1990. DAP QM5-7 SCED.
  • <3> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7473.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 16 September 1994.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106G/UK/1501 3221-22 (13 May 1946).
  • <7> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P.119-120.
  • <8> Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182.
  • <9> Report: Riley, H.. 2013. Hoaroak Valley: Historic landscape survey and analysis. Hazel Riley. 34.
  • <10>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #46719 ]
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 895579, Extant 17 January 2022.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2024. Exmoor Local Heritage List assessed by the Panel on 21 February 2024.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO299
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10968
  • Local Heritage List Status (Listed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW79
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 895579
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33107



Grid reference Centred SS 2746 1431 (32m by 32m)
Map sheet SS21SE

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Record last edited

Apr 22 2024 5:07PM


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