MSO8534 - Caratacus Stone, Winsford Hill (Monument)


An early medieval memorial stone now known as the Caratacus Stone, with an inscription of 6th Century character. It stands 1.2 metres high with a slight lean, in a shelter built in 1906. An excavation in 1937 found no evidence of a burial.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

A ‘Stone’ is marked on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map. [1] An inscribed stone on Winsford Hill is 3 foot, 11.5 inches in height, and bears three lines of writing running vertically downwards. The first line has been chipped away, apparently with intention. The inscription reads: ......... S ........ CARAACI NEPVS. The stroke over the second A is not in contact with the letter, and the character should not be taken as being a T ligatured. The name is CARANACI, not CARATACI. [2] An inscribed stone marking the burial place, certainly of an early Christian and on which the lettering of the 6th Century, reads CARATICI NEPUS (the Grandson of Caraticus). [3] Scheduled. [4] A roof has been erected over the stone. The inscription CARAACI NEPVS is quite clear, but there is no indication of the first line of lettering postulated by Macalister. (See GP AO/65/184/6). [5] Condition is very poor. The stone is covered in lichen and is very nearly illegible. [6] The stone is leaning but firm. A repair has been made at some time, near the curving top. The letters remain clear, as are other marks, said to be R and G. These are all on the east face. The height of the stone is c1.2 metres and 0.3 metres wide. [7] An interpretation panel has been erected at the site. [8] The stone is mentioned as ‘Langeston’ in the Perambulation of Exmoor Forest, in 1219 and 1279. [9] The site was visited by the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1923. A few years prior, at H. St. George Gray's suggestion, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland had placed "a substantial shelter" over the 'Longstone' to preserve it. The letters were stated to be CARATACI NEPUS (nepos) I.E. the kinsman or descendent of Caratacus. St. George Gray suggests the monument may be Christian and date to the 5th Century. N.B. The publication includes a photograph dating to 1919. [14] [SS 8897 3356] Caratacus Stone [NR] [18] A memorial stone, now known as the Caratacus Stone, has a 6th Century type inscription. It is called Langeston in the 13th Century Forest Perambulations. The stone is 1.2 metres high and 0.3 metres wide, with a slight lean to the south-south-west. The inscription was discovered in 1890 and a shelter was erected around it in 1906. The stone was removed in 1937, when a small excavation showed there to be no grave. It was subsequently cemented back into position. [19] Charles Thomas reads the inscription as CARATACI NEPVS with a ligatured AT. This would commemorate the grandson (or other immediate descendent) of Caratacus or Carantacus. He would date it to the later part of the sixth century or early seventh and suggests that it shows contacts with Glamorgan rather than with the rest of Dumnonnia. [23] The letters are 5 to 10 centimetres in height and appear to have been rather inaccurately cut in modern times. CARATACI appears the more likely reading although CARAMACI, CARANACI or even CARANTACI are possible. Macalister believed that there was a previous line, of which he said the S was clear. There is no sign of this today and no one else has recorded it. Without it the inscription appears incomplete and the name of the deceased would be expected. [24] The site was visited in Summer 1890 (?) by Warden Page. It was noted to be a stone made of local, hard, slaty rock, roughly shaped and with the surface fairly dressed. The height was recorded at 3 feet 7 inches, the width 14 inches and the thickness 7 inches. A dyke of quartz was noted to run across the middle. Three months prior to the visit, a labourer had "but three months before my visit, amused himself by [an unquantified section at the top] with his pick". Two pieces that had broken off three years previously were buried by the Rev. J.J. Coleman. The inscription was deciphered as CVRAACI FPVS (the first "A" includes a ligature), with the first part of the second word suggested to be lost with the top section of the stone. A second visit with others (Prof. Rhys and his wife, Mr Elton, and Mr F.T. Elworthy) and further investigations suggested the inscription to be CARAACI [N]EPVS, with the N originally written reversed and preserved on a buried piece of the stone. A stout fence was placed around the stone by Sir Thomas Acland to preserve it. Two pieces lately broken off the stone were found and "carefully hidden by the writer close by". [26] Full description of the stone and discussion of the text. [31] An inscribed stone, now known as the Caratacus Stone and as described by [19]. It lies on the southeastern edge of Winsford Hill, on the edge of a series of trackways associated with medieval and post medieval routes across Winsford Hill. The inscription faces away from the trackways. The inscription, in debased Latin writing of 6th Century date, is on the eastern face of the stone. The letters are about 9 cetimetres high. It reads "CARAACI NEPVS", the N is reversed. This means either the grandson, nephew or descendent of Caratacus. Macalister suggests that a further line of writing existed, above CARAACI, but there is no evidence for this, in fact this area has been subject to weathering. Two other letters, ‘R’ ‘G’, are carved faintly beneath "NEPVS", on a different alignment. These letters are more recent graffiti. The western face of the stone is badly weathered, and part of the top has been recently repaired. The construction of the shelter, built of local materials in 1906, was authorized by Sir Thomas Acland who leased Winsford Hill to the National Trust for 500 years in 1918. [32] Scheduling of the monument has been affirmed with a new national number on 12 November 2003 (the number was Somerset 37). The 20th Century protective building is also included in the scheduling. [33] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 4. [35] The site was surveyed in March 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 8. [36] A rough rectangular post that has been reset in cement, with a small stone shelter erected over the top. The stone measures 1.2 x 0.3 x 0.2m and has a slight lean. It is notable due to its Post-Roman inscription of “CARATACI” or “CARAACI NEPUS” suggesting it may have once been a burial marker. There is little damage to the stone and the shelter itself, however, the immediate environs and buried archaeological potential continues to be disturbed. The track to the west of the stone has not necessarily worsened since 2015, but continued use prevents its recovery, especially in the recent wet weather. The site is “improving” due to the recent management of the gorse, which once covered the field. [37] The stone was photographed in 1941 by the Ministry of Works and Buildings. [38] The stone was photographed in 1999 by the RCHME. [39] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [40]

Sources/Archives (40)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <2> Unassigned: Macalister, R.A.S.. 1945. Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum. 1. P.476-8 illustrations, P.476-478.
  • <3> Article in serial: Ralegh-Radford, C.A.. 1952. [Unknown]. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 84. P.230.
  • <4> Report: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments in England and Wales. P.83.
  • <5> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 19 August 1965.
  • <6> Report: The National Trust. Ancient Monuments Record.
  • <7> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, Somerset County Council, 5 May 1984.
  • <9> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. P.103-105.
  • <10> Article in serial: Rhys, J.. 1891. Notice of a Newly Discovered Inscribed Stone on Winsford Hill, Exmoor. Archaeologia Cambrensis. 46. P.29-32.
  • <11> Monograph: Dobson, D.P.. 1931. The Archaeology of Somerset. P.257.
  • <12> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 1. P.369.
  • <13> Monograph: Fox, A.. 1973. South-West England, 3500BC-AD600 . David and Charles Limited. Revised Edition. P.159, 162, 244.
  • <14> Article in serial: Anonymous. 1923. Caratacus Stone. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 69. Part I, pp xl-xli. pp xl-xli, Plate II.
  • <15> Article in serial: Chanter, J.F.. 1910. Christianity in Devon before AD 909. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 42. P.482.
  • <16> 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.11 (Winsford 1).
  • <17> Article in serial: Gray, H. St. G.. 1937. Rude stone monuments of Exmoor: Part V. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 83. Part II, pp 166-170. P.166-168.
  • <18> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <19> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 6 December 1989.
  • <20> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1983. Ancient Exmoor: A Study of the Archaeology and Prehistory of Exmoor. The Exmoor Press. Microstudy C2. P.49.
  • <21> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1973. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. David and Charles Limited. Revised Edition.
  • <22> 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.67.
  • <23> Monograph: Thomas, C.. 1994. And Shall These Mute Stones Speak? Post-Roman Inscriptions in Western Britain. University of Wales Press. P.288-289.
  • <24> Monograph: Pearce, S.M.. 1981. The Archaeology of South West Britain. Collins. P.172, 270.
  • <25> Article in serial: Macalister, R.A.S.. 1929. The Ancient Inscriptions of the South of England. Archaeologia Cambrensis. 84. P.193-5.
  • <26> Article in serial: Warden-Page, J.L.L.. 1890. Inscribed Stone on Winsford Hill. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 36. Part II, pp 82-87. P.82-7.
  • <27> Article in serial: Haverfield, F.J.. 1918. The Presidential Address. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 64. Part I, pp xxiii-xlii. pp xxxii-xxxiii, xxxviii-xxxix.
  • <28> Monograph: Whybrow, C.. 1977. Antiquary's Exmoor. The Exmoor Press. P.42.
  • <29> Article in serial: St. George Gray, H.. 1947. Ninety-ninth Annual Meeting: Third Day’s Proceedings - Rude Stone Monuments and Earthworks of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 93. Part I, pp 17-21.
  • <30> Article in serial: [Unknown]. 1984. [Unknown]. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 128. P.32-33.
  • <31> Monograph: Okasha, E.. 1993. Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-West Britain. P.328-331.
  • <32> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 24 July 1997.
  • <33> Unpublished document: Various. Scheduled Monument Notification . English Heritage scheduling amendment, 12 November 2003 (document dated 24 November 2003).
  • <34> Article in serial: Chanter, J.F. + Worth, R.H.. 1905. The Rude Stone Monuments of Exmoor and its Borders. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 37. I. P.386.
  • <35> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <36> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <37> Report: Fuller, J.. 2018. Exmoor Prehistoric Standing Stone Condition Survey: 2017-2018. MSO8534.
  • <38> Photograph: Unknown. 1941. An inscribed early Christian memorial stone, known as the Caratacus Stone, seen from the east. Print.
  • <39> Archive: Hesketh-Roberth, M.. 1999. Job: Caratacus Stone.
  • <40> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35777, Extant 31 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SE6
  • National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 99/01399
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35777
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 37
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34225



Grid reference Centred SS 8896 3355 (3m by 2m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS83SE

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Related Events/Activities (3)

Related Articles (2)

Record last edited

Apr 18 2022 9:31PM


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