MSO7583 - Medieval farmstead at Grexy Combe (Monument)


A deserted medieval farmstead at the head of the eastern arm of Grexy Combe, visible as earthworks comprising at least four building platforms defined by stony banks. Some of the buildings may have been longhouses.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 940 479. A well preserved deserted medieval farm lies on North Hill, west of Bramble Combe. There are remains of a long house 45 feet long and 20 feet wide with stone built walls surviving in places up to 18 inchs high and with a doorway in the south side. A square building, possibly surrounded by an enclosure wall, and a probably contemporary field system is on the opposite side of the combe. Scheduled. [1,2] SS 941 479. This fine earthwork site was discovered by Betty Osborn. It consists of three or four buildings, some of which were probably longhouses. [3] The farm comprises low earth banks, one rectangular about 4.0 metres by 5.0 metres and are appoximately 5.0 metres in diameter with an entrance. Ancient field boundaries are evident to the north of the site. [4] This deserted farmstead lies at the head of the eastern arm of Grexy Combe at SS 94059 47915. It was discovered by Betty Osborn as part of the survey of the parish of Minehead Without (see [4]), and has subsequently been scheduled (SAM No Somerset 503). The farmstead is perched on the lip of a steep natural gulley which defines the northern and eastern sides of the site. The southern side is defined by a fence (and collapsed field bank) marking the edge of intensively improved pasture. The remains are well preserved, but are overgrown in places with impenetrable gorse, so that a complete investigation of the site was not possible. At least four building platforms are visible, defined by stony banks up to 0.4 m high. Some of the buildings occupy massively terraced platforms. The site may be associated with the extensive field system on North Hill to the east (MSO7627). Farmstead surveyed at 1:500 scale as part of RCHME's survey of the Exmoor National Park holding on North Hill. [5-8] The deserted farmstead above [1-6] is visible as structures and earthworks on aerial photographs. The site is centred at SS 9406 4791 and covers an area that measures 77 metres long by 30 metres wide at its widest points. Three structures are visible of the four buildings already described above [6]. These are defined by banks and are located on flat terraces. The banks relating to the field system to the north of the site are also visible and are recorded as MSO7627. [9-11] Deserted farm in Grexy Combe, either side of a holloway. To the north little remains except for field boundaries. To the south are low earthworks, one forming a rectangle 4 metres by 5 metres and one forming a circle 5 metres in diameter. Sometimes held that this is North Rygge Farm but a local story (which is unsubstantiated) calls it Grexy Combe Farm whose owners were forced to abandon it when they were caught smuggling. As the whole of the moor was in Luttrell family ownership with tenant farmers this is unlikely. In 1408 Anne Luttrell married William Gedwin and, as the field is called Godwin Field on the tithe map, it was probably their farm. [4] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 12. [15] The initial clearance at Grexy Combe was funded by the 2010-11 Monument Management Scheme. The dense gorse was covered at least two additional building platforms and site details. The clearance work was beneficial and it was decided to undertake several years of follow up work. The follow up work for 2011-12 consisted of cutting stumps, cutting and spraying regrowth and cutting back dense gorse from the edges of the site to discourage spreading. As a result of the initial clerance there has been increased grazing on the site which has helped to curb the vegetation regrowth. [16] The site was surveyed in June 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 8. [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. [18]

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . DOE (IAM) Record Form, 30 September 1977.
  • <2> Article in serial: Aston, M.. 1978. Research in 1977: (b) Fieldwork - Somerset. Medieval Village Research Group. 25. pp 14-16. p15.
  • <3> Article in serial: Aston, M. 1983. Deserted Farms on Exmoor and the Lay subsidy of 1327 in West Somerset. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 127. 96.
  • <4> Article in serial: Osborn, B.. 1983. Parish surveys in Somerset five: Minehead Without. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 5. 24.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 4 December 1997.
  • <6> Report: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 1997. The field archaeology of North Hill: An archaeological survey of the Exmoor National Park holding. RCHME.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1997. Grexy Combe/ink survey . 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H.. 1997. Grexy Combe/pencil survey. Unknown. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9447/2/196-197 (SF1459) (3 May 1979).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS-79013 163-164 (17 April 1979).
  • <11> Archive: Dickson, A.. 2007. Severn Estuary Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment: SS 94 NW. MD000133.
  • <12> Map: 1843. Minehead Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <14> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1983. SS94NW. 26.
  • <15> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2009. Final Results Table: Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <16> Report: Turner, J.. Monument Management Scheme: 2011-12.
  • <17> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36839, Extant 11 May 2022.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO212
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11425
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 NW26
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record: MNA167488
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36839
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 503
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33799



Grid reference Centred SS 939 479 (209m by 172m) Surveyed
Map sheet SS94NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Mar 16 2023 10:52AM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.