MSO7908 - Prehistoric enclosure with field system on Porlock Common (Monument)


A possibly late prehistoric site comprising a circular enclosure abutted by a fragmentary field system and associated with three probable clearance cairns was noted during field survey. All are covered by this one record.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 846 448. A possible circular enclosure 34 metres in diameter defined by very low banks no more than 0.15 metre high was initially recorded from aerial photographs at Colley Water and is extremely difficult to see in the field. There is a levelled circular platform at its centre and another platform lies against the outer western edge of the enclosure. They are both 14 metres in diameter. Currently (1981) the site lies on recently swaled heath but within two or three years new growth will make it virtually impossible to identify. (Listed under prehistoric). [1] A very low banked, probably circular, enclosure is seen with no real discernible entrance. This encloses a circle platform that is cut into the up-slope and built up on the down-slope side. There are banks about 0.15 metres high and up to 5 metres wide. There is a second circular platform southwest of the enclosure on the down-slope side. Both platforms appear to have entrances on the southeast side, are 14 metres in diameter and are probably hut circles. [2] A very slight circular enclosure lies close to Colley Water at SS 84602 44664. It measures 14 metres in diameter and is represented by a scarp terraced into the hillside on the eastern side, and a curving front scarp. Both are about 0.2 metres high. The north and south sides are ill defined. This is probably the western enclosure described above in the first paragraph. The other features described by the first paragraph above are masked by deep heather, but may be just discernible as terracing to the east of this enclosure. A short length of very slight bank at SS 84605 44705 may be associated with this feature. Three small mounds 3 metres in diameter and 0.4 metres high at SS 84602 44673, SS 84636 44737 and SS 84649 44733 are probably clearance cairns. The sites were surveyed using GPS as part of the East Exmoor Project. [3, 8, 9] The circular enclosure described by [1] was also identified and transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. The dimensions of the enclosure are difficult to confidently determine as in places the earthworks resemble a double bank, but this may be due to spreading of the earthwork. Nonetheless, the earthwork is between 34 and 40 metres in diameter. It is not possible to identify any internal features or potentially associated field banks from the available aerial photographs, but several small mounds, probably including the three clearance cairns described by source [3], have been recorded. [4-7] Geophysical survey (magnetometry and earth resistance) undertaken in 2013 highlighted the presence of the features discussed above. A circular enclosure without a visible entrance was seen, along with a bank leading roughly southwest from the west side of the enclosure, another bank running south from the southern side of the enclosure, which then turns northeast, with a perpendicular extension to the southeast. These were present as faint high resistance features on the resistivity data. The three probable cairns were also visible on the resistivity data, as high resistance features. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> 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. 65.
  • <2> Unassigned: McDonnell, R. 8/6/1981. McDonnell, R., site visit 8/6/1981.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 11 September 1997.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4085-6 (11 July 1946).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72314 261-2 (16 August 1972).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8444/2 (DAP 6809/QP/10-11) (26 March 1990).
  • <7>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #40769 ]
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . NMR OAP SF 1453/272 (March 1979).
  • <9> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8444.
  • <10> Report: Gillings, M & Taylor, J. 2013. Porlock Allotment, Exmoor: Geophysical Survey. 6-7, 10-11.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36315, Extant 21 June 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO185
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11563
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW56
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36315
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33960



Grid reference Centred SS 84618 44686 (76m by 100m) GPS derived
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jun 21 2021 9:20PM


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