MSO7123 - Post-medieval stone working site east of Hoaroak Water (Monument)


The site of a stone working area on the east floodplain of Hoaroak Water. The presence of about a dozen large stone slabs, drilled for use as gateposts, suggests the production was associated with enclosure in the early 19th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 7474 4265. The earthwork remains of a rectangular building and small boulder walled enclosures beside Hoaroak Water were located and recorded. The earthworks are approximately 20 metres by 8 metres, set against the valley side, with an opening to the flat ground by the stream. There are two fallen drilled stone gateposts, 1.6 metres long, forming part of associated enclosures. A track respecting the back of the building appears perhaps to underlie the 19th Century Forest boundary wall just northwards from here, raising the possibility that the site predates this feature. However, it is unlikely that a pre enclosure building would have been present within the Forest here and the ruins more probably date to the early Knight period. The Forest was at this time divided into herdings, supervised by a shepherd living either in a nearby farm or in specially built accommodation. The 'Hoaroak herding' is referred to several times. MacDermot [1] records the construction of "a few cottages for the labourers and shepherds… the ruins of three are to be seen at the Warren, in Long Chains Combe near Hoaroak, and between Winstitchen and Picked Stones…" (my emphasis). The valley is the logical base for the Hoaroak herding, and the remains of a sheepfold and a stell can be seen near what was then the Simonsbath to Lynton road. There is also a reference to the location as "Old Cott" and the building remains by Hoaroak Water may well have been the shepherd's cottage. [2,3] SS 74735 42633. The remains of a stone working site situated at about 380 metres above Ordnance Datum on the east bank flood plain of the Hoaroak Water at the bottom of steep west facing slopes below Exe Plain. The main feature, a long rectangular hollow, is cut into the bottom of the scree clad slope which has been used as a source of stone. The hollow is about 16 metres north to south by 2 metres and 0.5 metres deep internally. The east (uphill) side is formed by a scarp cut into the steep slope. Spoil from the hollow has been dumped along the west side forming a wide outer bank and scarp. The inner footing of this bank, although it does not seem to have been a wall, appears 'scalloped' suggesting it may have been revetted with large stones which have since been removed. A break at the northern end of this west side may have been an entrance. The hollow does not appear to have been a building, as suggested by Preece but it may have been a working platform or finishing area. A track, running along the bottom of the steep slopes, skirts around the eastern side of the hollow apparently post dating it. Attached to the northern end of the hollow are the fragmentary remains of a crudely constructed circular stone walled structure, about 4 metres east to west by 3 metres and 0.3 metres high, built out of the scree. There are remains of a similar building, about 5 metres west of the centre of the main hollow, which has an entrance on the north side and a short length of scree walling, about 1 metre thick, on its south side. These are probably the remains of small bothies. Scattered around the site, especially on the slopes to the east of the rectangular hollow, are about a dozen large stone slabs, each about 2 metres long, 0.5 metres to 0.7 metres wide and 0.25 metres to 0.4 metres thick. Most slabs are drilled centrally with two small holes all exactly 0.9 metres apart (some only have one hole) and they have obviously been intended as gateposts. The area apears to be a stone working site. The gateposts suggest it is contemporary with the enclosure of the area in the early 19th Century. Surveyed at 1:2000 by GPS. [2,4] The site was surveyed at 1:500 scale using GPS as part of the Exmoor project. Seventeen rough-outs intended for gate posts, together with the structures described above, were recorded. [5,6] The large rectangular hollow at the stone working site could be a linear prospecting site for iron; a similar feature lies to the south (MMO2193). [7] An area of surface stone is depicted on the 25 inch 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map centred at . [8] The stony area is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946-8 and in 2018-9. It is worth noting that the course of the Hoaroak Water to the west has changed between the two flights. [9,10] 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]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • --- Unpublished document: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2024. Exmoor Local Heritage List assessed by the Panel on 21 February 2024.
  • <1> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1973. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. David and Charles Limited. Revised Edition. P. 436.
  • <2> Report: Preece, A.. 1992. Archaeological Survey of the Upper Hoaroak Valley/ The Chains Valley Area, Exmoor Forest.
  • <3> Article in serial: Preece, A.. 1993. in Webster, CJ and Croft, RA "Somerset Archaeology 1993". Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 137. P. 151-2.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 May 1995.
  • <5> Technical drawing: Riley, H. & Wilson-North, R.. 1999. Hoar Oak/ink survey. 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1999.
  • <7> Report: Riley, H.. 2013. Hoaroak Valley: Historic landscape survey and analysis. Hazel Riley. 35.
  • <8> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <9>XY Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. [Mapped feature: #46721 ]
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Getmapping. 2018-2019. 12.5cm Vertical Aerial Photography of Exmoor National Park.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1044244, Extant 18 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12381
  • Local Heritage List Status (Candidate)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW138
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 1269312
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1044244
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35576



Grid reference Centred SS 2747 1426 (166m by 165m) Enhanced using SEM340768
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Mar 4 2024 5:16PM


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