MSO7893 - Culbone Stone Row, Culbone Hill (Monument)


A stone row running for 371 metres between Culbone Hill and Stent Hill. It consists of a possible 21 stones with intermittent gaps suggesting robbing. One stone has an inscribed cross. The row may at one time have marked the parish boundary.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 8327 4739. An incomplete stone row on Culbone Hill was found by NV Quinnell in 1975, and independently by JE Hancock in 1981. It would seem to be of prehistoric date. It is situated on a spur at about 380 metres Ordnance Datum, with a slight, false crested east slope. Twenty stones are traceable over a distance of 340 metres from SS 8327 4739 to SS 8360 4738. Fifteen stones are in woodland, the remainder in deep bracken and furze where it is possible some have not been detected. Under open conditions the ends of the row would not be intervisible, but these are unlikely to be the original terminations. The stones are local sandstone slabs between 30 centimetres and 70 centimetres long, 5 centimetres to 20 centimetres thick, and 25 centimetres to 70 centimetres high. A common interval between the stones cannot be deduced, but some of them are so widely spaced as to suggest heavy robbing. For 100 metres at the west end, the row coincides with the parish boundary although this is described as undefined on the 1957 Ordnance Survey 25 inch map. The boundary must originally have been mered to the row, but it is most unlikely that the stones are boundary markers. It is speculative as to whether the inscribed stone at SS 8320 4736 was removed from the row as it is similar in size to the larger stones. [1] The stone row is aligned east to west, pointing to barrows at either end. The row is probably a Bronze Age construction. [2] The site is in woodland and in good condition. [7] This fine stone row commences at SS 8324 4738 in coniferous woodland at about 405 metres Ordnance Datum, on the northeast slopes of Culbone Hill. It crosses a fenced trackway and rough grass/bracken covered ground below the crest of the ridge. It terminates in coniferous woodland on the north slope of Stent Hill about 385 metres Ordnance Datum, at SS 8362 4737, a total length of 371 metres. It now consists of 21 earthfast sandstone blocks, all set longitudinally following the general east-west alignment. The intermittent and irregular spacing suggests robbing; it is now impossible to know if the row extended further east or west. Stones 1 to 17 are almost in a straight line (allowing for minimal movement of some stones) the remaining four curving slightly towards the north stones 4,10a & b. 16 and 21 are broken stumps. The others range in height from 0.2 metres to 0.62 metres (an average of 0.4 metres). They are from 0.29 metres to 0.9 metres wide, and 0.10 metres to 0.33 metres thick. [9-10] In 1991, twenty one stones were found, increasing the length of the row to 371 metres. There are five earthfast stumps, and the remainder are from 0.2 to 0.62 metres high. All are firmly embedded. The western part of row is in densely planted wood of dwarf pine. [11] Stone No 3 has an inscribed cross. The cross, on the upper, eastern part of the northern side, is 12 centimetres high and 10 centimetres wide, with the arms of the cross cut 0.05 centimetres deep. The arms of the cross are not sharply incised, and as such are reminiscent of the crude style in which one of the arms of the cross on the Culbone Stone (MSO7891) has been extended. The cross is not set vertically, but rather is oriented like an 'x', and as such is roughly parallel with the sides of the stone. This may be because the stone has tilted eastwards. The upper ends of both arms have what appear to be 'tails' or short perpendicular extensions. [12] In private ownership. [13] Situated almost directly on the parish border between Oare and Porlock, the Culbone Stone Row comprises of 21 stones running east-west separated by an access track to the Lillycombe Estate. The western side of the row contains 15 stones, running through woodland. The eastern side, situated in heathland, contains 6. Only 14 of the stones were located in this survey, 10 in the western site and 4 in the east. Most of these are slabs orientated in the direction of the row. Whilst Stones 5, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 21, were not located in 2006, Stones 5, 11 and 12 were found during this survey. Instead, in 2018, Stones 4, 6, 14, 15, 16, and 21 were not located. This is likely due to the high vegetation and small size of some of the stones. Throughout the row bracken covers the site, and tree roots may be affecting Stones 7 and 17. Stones 7 and 10, have been damaged historically, and loose fragments are present around the stones. Livestock rubbing is largely restricted to stones on the eastern row where they are more accessible to animals. On the eastern side of the row, a modern cairn has been created between Stones 18 and 19, without any clear archaeological significance. [15] The site was viewed from a permitted access path but not surveyed as part of an academic research project by Dr Sandy Gerrard in 2018. [16] 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 (16)

  • <1> Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. + Murless, B.. 1981. Somerset Archaeology 1980. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 125. P.95-96.
  • <2> Article in serial: Mold, E.T.. 1983. Culbone Hill Stones. Exmoor Review. 24. pp 67-69. P.67-69.
  • <3> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1983. Ancient Exmoor: A Study of the Archaeology and Prehistory of Exmoor. The Exmoor Press. Microstudy C2. P.32-33.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Eardley Wilmot, H. 20.10.83. H Eardley-Wilmot to Somerset County Council 20.10.83 - alignment with W barrow.
  • <6> Unassigned: HBC 3.025.-3.
  • <7> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, Somerset County Council, 14 October 1986.
  • <8> 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. P.1-13 (Oare 3).
  • <9> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1990. Culbone Stone Row/ink survey. 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 11 January 1990.
  • <11> Report: Quinnell, N.V. and 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. P.62, SS84NW20.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 29 July 1997.
  • <13> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Somerset County Council Planning.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. 03.06.1982. Somerset County Council to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
  • <15>XY Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO7893. [Mapped features: #37874 Boundary of site, ; #45651 Stone 1., MSO7893; #45652 Stone 2., MSO7893; #45653 Stone 3., MSO7893; #45654 Stone 5., MSO7893; #45655 Stone 7., MSO7893; #45656 Stone 8., MSO7893; #45657 Stone 9., MSO7893; #45658 Stone 10., MSO7893; #45659 Stone 11., MSO7893; #45660 Stone 12., MSO7893; #45661 Stone 17., MSO7893; #45662 Stone 18., MSO7893; #45663 Stone 19., MSO7893; #45664 Stone 20., MSO7893]
  • <16> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <17> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35927, Extant 22 February 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8342 4739 (364m by 44m) (15 map features)
Map sheet SS84NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11499
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7748
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 NW20
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35927
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33876

Record last edited

Feb 22 2022 2:48PM


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