MSO7337 - Prehistoric hut circle and field system on Honeycombe Hill (Monument)


The remains of a prehistoric hut circle and field system on Honeycombe Hill. The hut circle is visible as an oval enclosure bounded by rubble walling; a gap in the southeast quadrant may indicate the site of the entrance. The feature is associated with banks of earth and stone.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

Full Description

Mr Corney pointed out on the ground a `hut circle' type earthwork he had found in 1966. It consists of an oval enclosure 13 metres north to south and 10 metres east to west, formed by a bank of earth and small stone 0.3 metres high. It is integrated with a fragment of similarly low and spread field bank on the west side. The south side of the enclosure is much denuded and the entrance appears to be a simple gap in the southeast. It is at SS 8585 4239 on a platform with slight shelter from the prevailing wind and looks very much like a hut-circle, less the usual Dartmoor type stone slabs and orthostats. Its period however is uncertain. Surveyed at 1/2500. [1,2] Completely covered with bracken and not seen. [3] Substantial ring bank 0.7 metres high on east side, fading out on west. Abrupt end of bank suggests entrance in southeast quadrant. Standing stone 0.7 metres high nearby three others to the east and some field banks. The stones may be field boundaries. [3] Two low banks up to 4 metres wide at the base and up to 0.7 metres high forming a rough unjoined right angle of the north facing spur of the hill. The north-south bank has a hut circle attached (see above). The east to west bank is not quite so substantial and is not straight. A third bank also running east to west to the north was seen and recorded on the aerial photographs but could not be identified in the field; it may exist as a sub-surface feature. Corney suggests that this third bank is visible and has been surveyed. [4,5] SS 8600 4235. A hut circle and stone built field boundary banks on Honeycombe Hill, first recorded on air photographs, were confirmed as earthworks in fieldwork by McDonnell in 1979. A number of standing stones "which may be associated with land division rather than religious or astronomical purposes" were also noted. [6] The previously recorded features form only a part of a more extensive field system and settlement on Honeycombe Hill, marked by shallow banks, lynchets and stones, and including four or perhaps five house and hut circles. Stones MSO7385 form part of this site, and the alignment of stone row MSO7336 suggests that it also is an element of the land allotment. The dominant axis of the field boundaries, which are coaxial, is westsouthwest-eastnortheast. Many of the features are only visible in low vegetation. The small area of incomplete fields probably represents cultivated infield, visible as stone clearance lines to former fences or hedges. This infield is situated on sheltered, gently sloping land Slightly higher up on the edge of the high ground are two sub-square enclosure type features which may represent stock coralls. [7] At SS 8594 4238, on a gentle northwest slope towards the end of a spur, there is a single hut associated with the remnants of a field, or field system. The hut measures 13 metres by 10 metres overall, formed by heather covered earth and rubble walling 2.5 metres wide and 0.4 metres high. A gap of 4 metres in the south east quadrant may have incorporated the entrance. To the west of the hut and 1 metres from it a straight north west to south east field bank can be traced for about 60 metres. It is of earth and rubble with the occasional large upright stone, and is mostly 2.7 metres wide and 0.2 metres high. Another 60 metres length of bank at right angles to the first but 50 metres distant follows the contour towards Thurley Combe and is centred at SS 8603 4240. There is a considerable growth of heather and bracken in the area and further fragments of the system may still survive but the impression is that for some reason parts have been deliberately stripped out. The standing stone mentioned by Somerset HER [3] is by the Thurley Combe end of the second bank. It may be a marker stone or a natural upright. The site is undoubtedly that found by Corney in 1966 and surveyed by the Ordnance Survey in 1967. The 1:2500 survey [2] was never published and has been lost, but it is clear the grid reference quoted by Ordnance Survey has a 100 metre error in the eastings. [8] An extensive prehistoric field system on Wilmersham Common. It comprises a series of stony banks and rubbly lynchet scarps forming a number of rectilinear fields. None of the boundaries are very visible due to the dense nature of the moorland vegetation. The field system is most obvious on the gentle, lower slopes of Wilmersham Common, where it overlooks the deep valley of Chetsford Water. Fragments of boundaries can be traced further afield and are assumed to be part of the overall field system. No doubt swaling of this area of moorland would reveal more of the system. The current extent of the field system is reflected in the following NGRs: SS 8586 4177 (southwest corner) to SS 8611 4239, thence to SS 8587 4268, thence to SS 8572 4217 (NW corner). It is clear that the field system is prehistoric in date and that it is associated with the hut circle already described. Also within the area is a well preserved cairn, stone row and second less well defiend hut circle. Surveyed at 1:2500 scale as part of RCHME's Exmoor project. [9] A large recumbent sandstone slab (centred at: SS 85949 42415) measuring 1 x 0.57 x 0.15m with tapering points at either end is present amongst an area of prehistoric field systems on the northwest facing slope of Honeycombe Hill. It lies roughly 200m north of the round barrow, and on the west side of a noticeable field boundary, 1.1m from its edge, where on the other side is a considerably large hut circle, 20m southeast from the stone. The stone had been recently knocked over from its setting with a clear socket hole, there was also a moisture line on the stone showing the depth of its setting. The stone has also been chipped and its upwards facing tip had been marked with red paint, likely from the vehicle that knocked it over. [11] The stone was later reset by the NT Holnicote Estate Rangers, supervised by ENPA staff, it now stands upright leaning slightly northwards, with a height of 0.45m [12]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. WJ Corney, Headmaster, Wiveliscombe Junior School.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 9 February 1967.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33686.
  • <4> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor National Park Field Survey. 8542.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. LHL CPE/UK/1980 3170 (April 1947).
  • <6> Serial: Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 1851-. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. Volume 124 (1980), 116 (R McDonnell).
  • <7> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. A Preece, site visits between 1988 - 1992, PRN 33686.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 19 April 1987.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, March 1999.
  • <10> Article in serial: Corney, W.J. 1968. Prehistoric Settlement on Honeycombe Hill. Exmoor Review.
  • <11>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO7337. [Mapped features: #45693 Standing Stone., MSO7337; #45695 Hut Circle, MSO7337]
  • <12> Report: Fuller, J.. 2017. HER Input Form: Resetting the standing stone at MSO7337 (MNS155646), on Honeycombe Hill.



Grid reference Centred SS 860 421 (891m by 614m) (3 map features)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11330
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE19
  • National Park
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36011
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33686

Record last edited

Jun 21 2021 11:42AM


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