MSO7882 - Group of stones east of the Whit Stones on Porlock Hill (Monument)


A group of six stones, one of which stands 1 metre high and has three sets of 18th and 19th Century initials carved on its eastern face. This could be a standing stone, with the others natural; alternatively, they may together form a hut circle.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

A group of five stones was discovered 1 kilometre east of the Whit Stones. The group of stones is possibly the 'Fif Stones', mentioned in the Exmoor Perambulations of 1279, 1298 and 1308. [1] It is likely that only the westernmost stone is of significance - the others appear to be naturally placed. The southeastern face has been redressed and has 'MS', 'JHW' and 'JTM' inscribed in letters c. 2 centimetres high. It is probably of 19th Century origin. [2] A group of five stones, including one standing stone, were identified at the top of Porlock Hill. The only stone that is standing is aligned with its long axis at 33 degrees, is 1 metre high and about 1.5 metres long. Three sets of initials are inscribed on the southeastern face. The style of lettering appears to be 18th or 19th Century, so the stone could be a boundary marker; although the inscription could have been carved in the 18th or 19th Century onto a much earlier stone. In view of the continuing debate about the location of the 'Fif Stones' mentioned in the Exmoor Forest Perambulations of 1279, 1298 and 1301, it was thought that these stones might be those referred to and hitherto unrecognised. However, their location well to the east of Hawkcombe Head, the next boundary point, appears to render this unlikely. (The National Grid Reference given for this site is SS 5643 4615 which is evidently wrong. It should probably be SS 8643 4615 which places it at the top of Porlock Hill). [3,4] A group of five stones are located at SS 8643 4614, on the crest and east facing slope of Porlock Hill. The west stone, A, on the crest of the hill, appears to be a natural slab barely protruding above the surface. It is neither orientated towards the other stones nor visible from them. The east stones, D and E, again appear to be natural and also are not visible from the other stones. B and C are situated in a shallow quarry scoop just below the crest of the hill. Stone B, an upright slab 1.0 metre high, has three sets of 18th and 19th Century initials carved on its eastern face, at what was probably ground level at the time. Stone C is a natural block outcropping in the side of a cutting. Apart from B, which may be a standing stone, this group has no archaeological or historical significance and is unlikely to be the `Fif Stones' mentioned in the Perambulations of Exmoor Forest. [5] A sixth stone is located four paces southeast of the main stone (RCHME's stone B as is mentioned above). Only the stub of an upright remains, measuring 0.55 metres by 0.13 metres. The stones are sited in the lee of the hill and could form the remains of a hut circle. [8] This monument was scheduled on 27 March 1996. [9] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 8. [10] The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 8. [11] A stone setting with an unclear alignment is situated at the far north-eastern end of Porlock Common. The stones vary significantly in height and form. This survey identified 3 potential additional stones (Stones G, H, I), bringing the total to 9 stones. two of these 3, however, are tiny stubs and are not particularly convincing and are likely natural. A large European gorse bush is present on site and it is covering a significant part of Stone B and C. Livestock have also rubbed against Stone B, but the presence of the gorse may be deterring them, as the hollow appears to be relatively stable. There is a very narrow void around Stone A, which is now leaning. It appears that this void was created by the sudden movement of the stone. This could have been caused by off-road vehicle damage. [12]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Exmoor National Park Authority to Somerset County Council. Discovery. 24/07/1981.
  • <2> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Somerset County Council to Exmoor National Park Authority. 28/06/1982 Somerset County Council to ENP.
  • <3> Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. and Murless, B.. 1982. Somerset Archaeology 1981. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 126. 69-91. 69.
  • <4> Article in serial: Fowler, M.J.F.. 1988/1989. The Standing Stones of Exmoor: A Provisional Catalogue of 62 West Somerset Sites. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. 1-13 (Porlock 2).
  • <5> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. SAJ Probert, 12 December 1988.
  • <6> Survey: Porlock Hill Ink Survey. 1:100. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <7> Monograph: Quinnell, N.V. + Dunn, C.J.. 1992. Lithic Monuments within the Exmoor National Park: A New Survey for Management Purposes by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 64, SS 84 NE 16.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. M Walker, 25 July 1993.
  • <9> Index: Scheduled Monument Notification . English Heritage to Somerset County Council. 26/04/1996.
  • <10> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <11> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.
  • <12>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO7882. [Mapped features: #45665 Stone A., MSO7882; #45666 Stone B., MSO7882; #45667 Stone C., MSO7882; #45668 Stone D., MSO7882; #45669 Stone E., MSO7882; #45670 Stone F., MSO7882; #45671 Stone I., MSO7882]



Grid reference Centred SS 8643 4616 (40m by 44m) (Surveyed)
Map sheet SS84NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11565
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NE16
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35872
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33962

Record last edited

Aug 17 2020 12:27PM


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