MSO7348 - Prehistoric field system and settlement on Great Hill (Monument)


A prehistoric field system and settlement remains, covering about 9 hectares on the southeast facing slopes of Great Hill. The remains comprise about a dozen rectangular fields defined by low stone banks, three hut circles and two stone clearance heaps.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 8442 - 8542. A prehistoric field system and associated hut circles on Great Hill, recorded from air photographs was surveyed in the field by McDonnell in 1979 [18]. The system suggests some dozen rectangular fields defined by low stone banks. Where these banks run across the slope they survive as small positive lynchets. Four hut circles were recorded as earthworks but a further three suggested by the air photographs were not visible on the ground. Three substantial stone mounds were also located. There is a suggestion both in the field and on the air photographs that this system of fields is much more extensive and possibly continues up the slope under the peat. (SS 84 SW 25, 28 and SS 84 SE 17, 42 are probably among McDonnels `hut circles and mounds'). [1,2] Centred at SS 8513 4247 about 410 metres Ordnance Datum on the gentle southeast facing slopes of Great Hill overlooking Chetsford Water is a field system and probably contemporary settlement of three hut circles. The field system lies in rough grassland interspersed with heather and patches of bracken and covers an area of about 9 hectares (22 acres). It is generally well defined on the higher slopes to the northeast by low turf covered stoney banks (A on plan [3]) about 2 metres in width and 0.2 to 0.8 metres in height. Down the slope mainly to the south west these banks become more evident as stony topped lynchets (B on plan [3?]) running along the contour with their lower scarps predominating and in places (C on plan [3?]) these are shorter sub-dividing cross contour banks. The elongated terrace like fields thus formed generally run along the contour. The slight stone content cleared from the fields appears to have gone mainly into the banks and lynchets as only two possible stone clearance heaps are evident. These heaps (D1 and D2) are apparent as small turf covered stony mounds 4.5 metres and 3 metres in diameter respectively and both 0.5 metres high. The three hut circles (A, B, C) which stand out as heather rings in predominantly rough grassland are all levelled into the slope and are similar in form and dimensions being 12.1 metres in diameter between the centres of heather covered banks which vary from 1.8 to 2.2 metres in width and reach a maximum height of some 0.6 metres. The banks are mainly of turf but probing reveals a good content of small stone though no facing stones are evident. They all have an entrance break some 3 metres side in the southeast quadrant. Huts A and C fall on the outer periphery of the visible system of fields, which undoubtedly extended further up the slopes and is now obscured by peat, and hut B falls within it, apparently opposite a break in a field bank, but otherwise there does not appear to be any direct relationship between them although it is almost certain that they are contemporary and prehistoric. It should be noted that McDonnell's plan has been incorrectly scaled in Somerset A and N.H.S. 124 [1]. (Please note that NRHE sites 36282 and 36005 have now been included in this site as hut circles A and B respectively.) [3,4] The field system described by the above authorities has been transcribed from aerial photographs as part of the Exmoor National Mapping programme (NMP) survey. The field system is most clearly visible on aerial photographs of 1952, which have allowed a transcription very nearly as complete reproduced in [2]. However it was possible to confidently identify only one hut circle 12 metres in diameter, at SS 8514 4235, corresponding with McDonnells hut circle 1. [5-7] At SS 8485 4217 there is a small circular enclosure scooped into a south slope to ensure a level interior and with slight earth banks on the east and west sides. There is no outer ditch and the entrance is a simple gap on the south side. It is not unlike a hut circle but has no obvious stone content in its construction. Surveyed at 1/2500. [9] At SS 8511 4293 is a low circular bank with a gap in the southeast. It appears to be the remains of a hut although its period is uncertain. It is shown as a barrow on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 1 inch map. [10,16] (SS 8511 4293) A small low circular bank with an entrance gap in the south-east circa 3 metres across. Some stones show through the bank. (SS84854217) The feature was easily seen following swaling of the moor. It is 12 metres east to west with an entrance 9.5 metres across. There is no outer ditch. The field system to the east may spread to here under the bracken. [11] Probing found no indication of any continuation beneath the peat, and the features extend no further than visible. [14] At SS 8511 4239 is a small low circular bank with a gap in the south-east. It appears to be the remains of a hut though its period is uncertain. It is shown as a barrow on the 1st edition map. Surveyed at 1/2500. [16,17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [21]

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3168 (April 1947).
  • <2> Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B.. 1980. Somerset Archaeology 1979. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 124. 116- 117.
  • <3> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1987. Field System and Settlement SS 84 SE 41/ink survey . 1:2500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, F1, 21 August 1987.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3096-7 (8 November 1952).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8542/8-9, 10-11 (18285/16-17, 20-21) (11 February 1999).
  • <7> Collection: RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <8>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #41933 ]
  • <9> Unassigned: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 9/2/1967. record card SS 84 SW 28. Site visit.
  • <10> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 24 June 1965.
  • <11> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Site visit, National Trust, July 1976.
  • <12> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8542.
  • <13> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3169.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 13,103.
  • <15> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. A Preece, 1989.
  • <16> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1809. 1 Inch Ordnance Surveyors draft map. 1:63,360.
  • <17> Unassigned: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 24/6/1965. record card SS 84 SE 17. Site visit.
  • <18> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography.
  • <19> Monograph: Usmar, J.. 1990. Stoke Pero, Exmoor: Church and Parish. 3.
  • <20> Artwork: Brayne, J.. 2000. Reconstruction Drawings for 'The Field Archaeology of Exmoor'. Great Hill drawing.
  • <21> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36074, Extant 21 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8504 4226 (451m by 383m)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (3)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO158
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10421
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10422
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11329
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11337
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7335
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7391
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE17
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE41
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW28
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36005
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36074
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36282
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33685
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33693
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 19361
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 19362
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33685

Record last edited

Jul 21 2021 1:15PM


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