MSO7333 - Sweetworthy Enclosure (Monument)


The well preserved earthwork remains of an Iron Age hillslope enclosure comprise a bank and external ditch in an irregular circle, with a possibly original entrance on the northwest side.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 89064254) Camp (NR) [1] Earthwork at Sweetworthy listed by VCH as a homestead moat. Scheduled by the Ministry of Works as a Miscellaneous Earthwork. [2,3] The earthwork at Sweetworthy is situated on a large natural terrace on the north side of Dunkery Hill. It consists for the most part of an irregularly circular bank and ditch. In the south a 30 metre break was probably made when a nearby boundary wall was constructed. A gap in the north-west seems original and a modern causeway crosses the ditch on the west. The interior has been levelled to form a platform but whether this is original is not certain. The earthwork is not truly defensive and is without doubt an Iron Age hill-slope enclosure of the same type as Trendle Ring (National Monument Record: ST 13 NW 3 - Not Exmoor). Surveyed at 1/2500. [4] Now scheduled under `Settlements and Moated Sites'. [5] SS 890425. Iron Age hillslope enclosure at Sweetworthy. Description as [4] although Burrow adds that the ditch to the south has been recut for drainage purposes. [6] Grinsell mentions that Rainbird Clarke (in the late 1930's) noted a ring of stones about 15 feet diameter east of the centre of the earthwork, but he says this seems a bit small to have been a hut site. [7] Two further earthworks are visible on the air photograph to the south (MSO7356). [8] (SS 8906 4254) Settlement (NR). [10] Additional Bibliography. [11] This univallate earthwork formed by a bank with outer ditch enclosing a sub-circular area about 62 metres east to west by 50 metres transversely, some 0.3 hectares (0.75 acres) is situated about 335 metres Ordnance Datum on a gentle north facing slopes of improved pastureland between Aller/Combe, 200 metres to the east and Sweetworthy Combe about 600 metres to the west. Deciduous trees and scrub formerly covered the site quite densely but only four trees and slight scrub now remain. The stumps and hollows of cleared trees can be seen in several places but they appear to have done little overall damage. The predominantly earthen bank varies in dimensions but where best preserved in the north, it is about 9 metres in maximum width with inner scarp 0.5 metres high and outer scarp 3 metres high. Some 30 metres of the bank and ditch have been destroyed by a post medieval boundary wall (a), topped with beech trees, which cuts across the southeast arc of the enclosure. There is also a small mutilation (b) probably made for drainage, in the northnortheast. The ditch, apart from the mutilation in the southeast, is generally well preserved averaging about 7 metres in width and 1.2 metres in depth on the west and south sides, though a modern track (c) has utilised and slightly deepened the bottom of the ditch on the east side. Around the downhill northern side the ditch is practically non-existent, suggesting that the bank was the important feature. The ditch has been blocked at a later period by an earthen dam (d) being built across it in the south west. It has apparently been stone revetted on the east side and measures some 12 metres in length and is about 9.5 metres maximum width, and still stands to a maximum height of 1.7 metres. Its stone built sluice (e), 2.3 metres long 0.4 metres wide and 1 metres high internally, is still in situ set into the inner southeast face of the dam. The reservoir (f) thus formed, about 45 metres long, 9 metres wide and 1.6 metres deep, was fed by a leat (g) from the southeast and drained to the northwest below the dam where there are still slight traces of the leat (h) continuing. This leat is destroyed in the southeast by the post-medieval wall so the dam complex must pre-date it. From the dam a low stoney bank (i), 3 metres wide and 0.6 metres maximum height, ran along the top of the main rampart to the east for some 35 metres to 45 metres before terminating. This along with probable deepening of the ditch to the south would have helped retain a greater capacity of water. What at first glance appears to be an outer stoney bank (j) along the outer lip of the ditch in the east is almost certainly the remains of a wall (probably contemporary with that which has destroyed the southeast enclosure) and the original boundary of Allercombe Wood. As it curves around to the north it peters out, possible destroyed when this section of the wood was replanted and is now replaced by a modern fence. Its junction to the south has been obliterated by the tracks.The entrance to the enclosure is undoubtedly in the northwest where there is a break (k) in the rampart some 5 metres wide with opposing causeway across the ditch, though this is now much reduced and the north side of it has virtually disappeared. The gently sloping interior of the enclosure shows slight suggestions of possible levelling. For example, a quite prominent scarp (l) 4.5 metres wide 1.2 metres high curving around the north east, but there is no clear evidence for any occupation. On the slope in the southwest there is an oval mound (m), 8 metres northwest to southeast by 4 metres transversely and 1.3 metres maximum height, of unconsolidated surface stones. It does not appear to be a clearance heap, quarry debris or a hut stance. Some 13 metres to its northeast, nearer the centre is another roughly oval slightly stony mound (n) 4.2 metres by 3.5 metres and 0.3 metres maximum height with a near central hollow. This is probably what Clarke (7) noticed. It is not a hut site but almost certainly an old tree hole. As stated by [4] the site is not truly defensive but is undoubtedly Iron Age in character and a lack of definite evidence of occupation should not prevent it being classifed as a Settlement. (For similar earthworks nearby see MSO7345 and MSO7356.). (N.B. Lower case letters a - m in the above text refer to the 1:1000 plan of 15 June 1987). [12-14] This enclosure was located using GPS and discussed in its archaeological landscape context as part of the RCHME Exmoor project; full details in report. [15,16] The well preserved earthwork remains of a prehistoric hillslope enclosure, known as Sweetworthy, have been recorded and transcribed as part of the wider landscape of Exmoor from aerial photographs, as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. As described above the enclosure is enclosed by a bank and external ditch, broken by a possibly original entrance on the northwest side. [17-20] The enclosure survives well. It is primarily under bracken with some gorse and an area of trees on the bank. The bank has been removed for approximately 30 metres on the uphill side, probably robbed to construct a field boundary. The entrance on northwest side is approximately 7.3 metres wide with a causeway across the ditch. There is some evidence that this is has been built across the ditch. There is also another causeway on the west side with a narrow stone construction built in to it. [21] Bank 1.8 metres deep in the southwest. Undulating interior. [22] Bank on downslope seen from aerial photographs - runs with contours on the north and east sides. May or not be associated other enclosures nearby. [23] Scheduled name changed from Homestead Moat to Earthwork on Sweetworthy. [27] Bank and outer ditch enclosing a sub-circular area of 0.3 hectares, some sections almost straight. On lower side earthworks become a shallow bank atop a steep scarp with an outer terrace (not marked by RCHME). On the southeast a stretch has been robbed and only a low scarp and earthfast stone remain. The interior is levelled to form a platform - it is just possible that the enclosing earthworks are secondary. There may have been an entrance on the south-east side opposite that on the northeast. On the south-west the earthworks have been utilised for a pond and dam in the 19th Century. Forms part of a complex of prehistoric and medieval features which may preserve evidence for settlement continuity. [28] Scheduling revised with new national number (was Somerset 211) on 16 June 1994. [29] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 7. [32] The site suffered heavily from gorse growth, particularly on the ramparts. Accordingly the gorse was cut and the stumps treated to discourage re-growth. [33] The site was surveyed in June 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 4. [34] The site was photographed in 1999. [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. [36]

Sources/Archives (36)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1911. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 2. 521.
  • <3> Index: Ministry of Works. 1961. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales. 84.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 24 June 1965.
  • <5> Report: Depart of Environment. 1971. Ancient Monuments of England. 12.
  • <6> Article in serial: Burrow, I.. 1981. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. British Archaeological Reports. 91. 257.
  • <7> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. 79, 85.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: West Air Photography. 1981-1983. Oblique aerial photographs across Exmoor National Park. 27534.
  • <9> Article in serial: Aston, M.. 1983. Deserted Farmsteads on Exmoor and the Lay Subsidy of 1327 in West Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 127. 83,94.
  • <10> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 1:10,000 Map, 1978. 1:10,000.
  • <11> Monograph: Allcroft, A.H.. 1908. Earthwork of England: Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman, and Mediaeval. Macmillan (London). 137.
  • <12> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1987. Enclosure at SS 84 SE 12/ink survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, F2, 15 July 1987.
  • <14> Collection: Pattison, P., Quinnell, N.V., Fletcher, M. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987-1988. RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <15> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1996. Sweetworthy/ink survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <16> Report: Riley, H.. 1996. The prehistoric enclosures and medieval and post medieval settlements at Bagley and Sweetworthy, Luccombe, Somerset. RCHME.
  • <17> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8842/32 (18017/01) (19 May 1998).
  • <18> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8942/6 (15431/07) (15 May 1996).
  • <19> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8842/40 (23826/25) (19 February 2005).
  • <20> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185.
  • <21> Unassigned: National Trust Ancient Monuments Record form (visit July 1976).
  • <22> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
  • <23> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8942.
  • <24> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3175.
  • <25> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-177 Run 89. 8668.
  • <26> Photograph: Somerset County Council Planning Department. Slide. 3.19.82. 03/1984.
  • <27> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 21.11.1988. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <28> Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme.
  • <29> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 1/8/1994. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <30> Photograph: Haw, G. 8.2.1996. Colour print.
  • <31> Aerial photograph: 10/1/1989. DAP LD28-34, LF17-19.
  • <32> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <33> Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. 12.
  • <34> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <35> Photograph: Hesketh-Roberth, M.. 1999. Job: SWEETWORTHY. Unknown. Negative.
  • <36> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35980, Extant 2 March 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8905 4253 (96m by 85m) MasterMap
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO146
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11323
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE12
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NBR Index Number: 99/01248
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35980
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): SOMER 211
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33679

Record last edited

Mar 2 2022 5:42PM


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