MSO7357 - Medieval or post-medieval enclosure south of Sweetworthy (Monument)


A rectilinear enclosure of a possible medieval or later date is visible as an earth bank with outer ditch, 230 metres along its longest side. Its function is uncertain, but it may be a new intake associated with Bagley and Sweetworthy.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

(Centred SS 890423) A `U' shaped enclosure or post-medieval field bank is visible on air photograph near Sweetworthy hillslope enclosure (MSO7333). [1-3] Centred at SS 8902 4233 is an unfinished enclosure of rectilinear form, situated on a heather covered north slope of 1 in 5, between the 350 and 390 metre contours. It is formed by an earth bank with an outer ditch, most complete along the southern, uphill side, between SS 8894 4220 and SS 8911 4225, at which points it turns at right angles to extend downhill. This bank is from 1 to 1.7 metres high, and the ditch 0.8 metres deep. In its 180 metre length it has three entrance gaps, 2 to 5 metres wide and at intervals of about 50 metres. In one the outer ditch simply fades at the gap; the others have distinct causeways. The western downhill arm is 76 metres long, ceasing at SS 8891 4226 with an open ended ditch and a rounded bank. The eastern arm is 230 metres long, ending at SS 8913 4246 with a fading bank and rounded ditch 0.7 metres deep. A gap 80 metres along this side is the result of a disused track crossing the earthwork, and 30 metres beyond bank and ditch make an inexplicable dog-leg turn eastwards for 25 metres. There is no evidence of any field system associated with the four prehistoric homestead enclosures in the vicinity, and since this earthwork has neither the size, shape or constructional form that might be expected the suggestion made by source [11] cannot be sustained. It seems more likely to have been an intended new take, attached to the 70 hectares of Bagley and Sweetworthy that had been enclosed before 1809 and at least in part must have had a medieval origin (see MSO7338 and MSO7346). But, whether medieval or later, the three entrance gaps are puzzling, unless they are requirements for the penning and sorting of sheep/stock. [4-6] The enclosure was located to the National Grid using GPS and discussed in its archaeological context as part of the RCHME Exmoor project. Full details in the survey report. [7] A rectilinear enclosure of a possible medieval or post-medieval date is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork bank close to the prehistoric and medieval settlement complex at Sweetworthy. The bank is in total approximately 450 metres long. The outer ditch described above could not clearly be seen on the aerial photographs available to the survey, possibly due to vegetation cover. The enclosure earthworks were transcribed from aerial photographs as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. The transcription has improved upon the locational data as described above by [4] but the description of the monument form is unchanged. A possible earthwork feature similar in form has been identified approximately circa 175 metres to the southwest, but further investigation is required to establish whether this is archaeological in origin and if there is any relationship between the two features. [8-10] May be associated with hillslope enclosure (MSO7333) or other earthworks (MSO7356). [11] Shape perhaps suggestive of Roman work. [12] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [17]

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8842 and 8942.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: West Air Photography. 1981-1983. Oblique aerial photographs across Exmoor National Park. 27534.
  • <3> 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. P. 83 & 94.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 3 August 1987.
  • <5> Technical drawing: Quinnell, N.V.. 1987. Sweetworthy/ink survey . 1:1250. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <6> Collection: Pattison, P., Quinnell, N.V., Fletcher, M. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987-1988. RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <7> Report: Riley, H.. 1996. The prehistoric enclosures and medieval and post medieval settlements at Bagley and Sweetworthy, Luccombe, Somerset. RCHME.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 F20 3174-5 (11 April 1947).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 955-6 (29 April 1973).
  • <10> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185.
  • <11> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, 15 February 1984.
  • <12> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. AR Preece, 1993.
  • <13> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 4172.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-177 Run 89. 8668.
  • <15> Photograph: Haw, G. 8.2.1996. Colour print.
  • <16> Aerial photograph: 10/1/1989. DAP LD28-30, LF17-19.
  • <17> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36099, Extant 14 March 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO161
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11355
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE50
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36099
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33711



Grid reference Centred SS 8902 4233 (232m by 206m)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Mar 14 2022 10:14PM


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