MSO7924 - Prehistoric double stone row on Porlock Common (Monument)


A prehistoric stone alignment comprising an incomplete double stone row formed by eight stones.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

SS 8456 4465. An incomplete double row is formed by eight stones, set across the contours of a slight southwest slope, to the north of a minor tributary of Weir Water. Situated in low heather, at 413 metres ordnance datum, the site possesses good views to the west and southwest, other prospects being obscured by higher ground. Geologically upon Hangman Grits, the monument has sandstone slabs and post stones. The rows are 0.8 to 1 metre apart and have a northwest to southeast axis. The northeast row is 12 metres long and the southwest one is 10.5 metres. Each has three firm and one fallen stone, spaced at 1.2 metre to 1.5 metre intervals. There is a gap towards the northwest end where stones A and B have been exposed to a depth of 0.10 metres by vehicle tracks. The intervening space was probed but failed to reveal any stones which may be concealed by peat. There are no specific terminal features to the existing remains, but the row is aligned upon a cairn, 45 metres to the northwest (MSO7926), intervisibility now interrupted by a road and hedgebank. A table with further information on the stones, is held in the archive. [1,2] Stone row, located immediately east of the stone circle (MSO7898) on the opposite side of the road. [4] The double stone row is threatened by a trackway. [5] The stones lie in an area of dense heather but are easily visible due to a track running both to and between them. Stones A and B are now on the edge of the track and are therefore less vulnerable than before (see source 4 above). [5] The site was surveyed in 2012, shortly after three further stones had been discovered (bringing the total to 11). The first two stones had only been found by probing in 2006 and were not located on this occasion. All of the identifiable stones were deemed to be in a fair and stable condition. [6] A possible peat filled hollow (MEM22447) was noted as running along the line of the stones during analysis of earth resistance data collected during field survey in 2013. This hollow could be of natural origin, or may have marked the line of a now eroded track. [7] The site was subject to excavation in August 2013, to determine the presence (or otherwise) of standing stones in the area concerned and ground-truth the low-resistance geophysical anomaly mentioned in [7]. This was undertaken by a 9 by 2 metre trench perpendicular to the line of the stone row. An animal track crossed the trial trench area and created an area of mixed deposit through trampling and churning. A single stonehole was noted in the area but no evidence of packing stones was seen. Further possible stoneholes were investigated but lacked clearly diagnostic cuts or fills. Whilst the possibility of further stoneholes having originally been present cannot be ruled out, any trace of such features has been destroyed by later disturbance associated with the track. The report concludes that the row was once a continuous feature and it does align upon the cairn (MSO7926), suggesting it is of a later date. The character of the single stonehole excavated reflects a different technological approach that that employed upon the arc of the circle, the feature lacking both depth and conspicuous packing material. [8] A double stone row close to the road on Porlock Common. It consists of 14 stones, with several gaps along the row. None of these stones are taller than 0.3m, all being very short and an assortment of shapes. The row appears to be aligned on the Porlock Stone Circle (MSO7898) and cairn across the road. A potentially "new" stone, Stone I, was discovered during this survey. Whilst stones A and B were found in 2006, they were not located in this survey. They are likely obscured by the thick vegetation covering the area close to the road. However, the small size of these stones, proximity to the row, and the evidence of a quadbike track leading up to stones J and L, suggest they are significantly vulnerable to off-road vehicles. [9] The site was surveyed as part of an academic research project by Dr Sandy Gerrard in 2016 and 2018. Surveys were conducted using a prismatic compass and electronic distance device with the plan being generated in the field. [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> Technical drawing: Probert, S.. 1989. Porlock Common/ink survey . 1:100. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. SA Probert, 3 January 1989.
  • <3> Unassigned: McDonnell, R. 31.10.75. Committee for rescue archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset.
  • <4> Article in serial: Fowler, MJ. 1988. The Standing Stones of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 132. 1-13 (Porlock 8).
  • <5> 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. 62, SS 84 SW 82.
  • <6> Report: Pearce, G.. 2012. A Condition Survey of Selected Standing Stone Settings on Exmoor National Park Authority Owned Land. 55-58.
  • <7> Report: Gillings, M & Taylor, J. 2013. Porlock Allotment, Exmoor: Geophysical Survey. 6-7, 10-11.
  • <8> Report: Gillings, M.. 2013. Excavation and Survey at Porlock Circle and stone row, Exmoor.
  • <9> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO7924.
  • <10> Website: Gerrard, S.. 2020. The Stone Rows of Great Britain.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 859261, Extant 19 June 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8456 4464 (25m by 24m) Surveyed
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (6)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11542
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW82
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 859261
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33937

Record last edited

Jun 19 2021 10:56PM


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