MSO7420 - Iron Age enclosure at Ley Hill (Monument)


An enclosure on Ley Hill measuring 75 metres by 55 metres is defined by a bank and ditch with an entrance on the northwest. It is believed to be of Iron Age date.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

An enclosure was discovered at the edge of Horner Wood on Ley Hill at SS 8905 4405 by Richard McDonnell in 1994, during an archaeological survey for the National Trust. [1] The enclosure was surveyed at a scale of 1:500 by the Exeter Office of the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England in January 1997 as part of the East Exmoor Project. It lies on the edge of mixed, deciduous woodland, on a spur overlooking Horner Water. The enclosure comprises a bank and ditch to the northwest and a single scarp to the southeast, which enclose an area of 0.4 hectures. It is subrectangular and measures 75 metres northwest - southeast by 55 metres northeast - southwest. An entrance, probably original, lies to the northwest. It appears to have been modified by a track. The bank and ditch are best preserved in thenorthwest section, where the ditch is 1.7 metres deep and the bank 0.6 metres high. The morphology and siting of the enclosure suggests that it is of prehistoric date, probably Iron Age. The stony scarps to the north and southwest of the enclosure, together with the stony, spread bank in the centre of the site, may be a result of later activity on the site. The medieval or post medieval field system on Ley Hill is 250 metres to the northwest. The gap to the south and the absence of a ditch in the north and east sections may also be a result of later activity on the site. The site was surveyed using instrumental control, with Ordnance Survey grid coordinates obtained from GPS. A detailed report has been deposited in the National Monuments Record. [2-5] The enclosure lies on the edge of oak woodland with the western side on open ground and the eastern side within the trees. The circuit of the enclosure is not completely defined, but overall measurements are 80 metres by 60 metres. The bank at the northwest contains large quanities of stone but no visible walling. Within the enclosure is a stony lobe, 15 metres long and 0.4 metres high, posssibly a dump of clearance material. No evidence for settlement, in the form of platforms or walling, was seen within the enclosure. [6] A previously unrecorded prehistoric enclosure was discovered during survey work. A substantial earthwork with an external ditch cuts off the flatter western approach along the neck of a spur. The eastern side is less well defined where the land drops steeply to Horner Water. The enclosure is roughly D-shaped, measuring c. 48 metres by 60 metres, the bank up to six metres wide and one metre high. A causewayed entrance crosses the ditch which is of similar proportions to the bank. The earthwork is much slighter to the north and east where it lies in the woodland edge and may have been disturbed by woodland management. [7-8] Survey undertaken of the hillfort discovered in 1994. It was concluded that the hillfort was a univallate defended enclosure with a possible outwork to the northwest, and was Iron Age in date. [9] The earthwork banks of the probable prehistoric enclosure on Ley Hill are visible on aerial photographs of the 1970s onwards and have been transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. Due to the location of the enclosure within the dense woodland of Horner Wood, the ditch was not visible and detail limited to the enclosure banks. Control points for the rectification of the aerial photographs were also limited and the mapping should be considered indicative of monument visibility on aerial photographs only. [10-12] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [13]

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Report: McDonnell, R.R.J.. 1994. Horner Wood: Report on the Preliminary Archaeological Field Assessment of Two Sample Areas. Richard McDonnel. 11.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 13 Febraury1997.
  • <3> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <4> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1997. Ley Hill Enclosure/ink survey. 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <5> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1997. Ley Hill Enclosure/pencil survey. Unknown. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <6> Report: Wilson-North, R.. 1997. A medieval settlement and prehistoric enclosure at Ley Hill, Luccombe, Somerset. RCHME.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Heal, S.V.E.. 1995. Heal, S.V.E. to Somerset County Council.
  • <8> Article in serial: Heal, S.V.E.. 1995. Somerset Archaeology 1994. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 138. 173.
  • <9> Report: Haw, G.. 1996. A survey of the recently discovered hillfort at Horner in West Somerset. Graham Haw.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8944/6 (15868/23) (20 January 1998).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 77013 088-089 (20 May 1977).
  • <12>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185. [Mapped feature: #47891 ]
  • <13> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1074163, Extant 16 March 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE104
  • National Park: Exmoor
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1074163
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35402



Grid reference Centred SS 8906 4410 (50m by 59m)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Mar 17 2022 12:58PM


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