MSO9200 - Area of prehistoric field system on Codsend and Hoar Moors (Monument)


A fragmentary group of small, irregular fields, prominent lynchets and numerous field clearance cairns are partially visible on aerial photographs. They are partially overlain in places by substantial post-medieval field boundaries.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

During a field visit were noted low stone banks about 0.25 metres high and 2 metres or less wide. They were built with fairly large stones and irregular in line. Also noted were a group of cairns or clearance mounds forming a square: Southwest (SS 86448 40609)- a large cairn made with large and medium sized stones. An irregular mound 8 metres in diameter and 1 metre high with a flat top. A trail of stones was upslope from the cairn. Northwest (SS 86443 40652) - a small elongated mound of medium sized stones. 3.5 metres long, 2 metres wide and 0.25 metres high with a flat top. Northeast (SS 86467 40653)- low insignificant feature of medium sized stones. 2 metres by 1.5 metres and 0.25 metres high with a flat top. Southeast (SS 86478 40620)- remains of fairly large, but probably robbed out, roughly circular cairn made of medium sized stones. 0.2 metres high, 5 paces diameter. Another four low circular cairns were noted at c. SS 8658 4063. They were described as two large and two small cairns, sitting on possible lynchet banks. The largest was noted to be 0.4 metres high. [1] Fragmentary group of small, irregular fields, prominent lynchets and numerous field clearance cairns situated on a south facing slope on Codsend and Hoar Moors. Centred SS 8654 4060 and previously recorded under MSO9193. This group of features is of very different character to those situated 300 metres further east (MSO9193) and obviously relate to a different period of activity. They are contained in parts of three post-medieval enclosed fields all of which have massive, tree-topped hedge banks which, together with field drains, cut across the earlier archaeological features. Most of the remains lie in an east field under rough grass and bracken, with several lynchets continuing into a west field under heather. A southwest field contains, in good managed grassland, the low, smooth scarps of more stripped-out field boundaries. There are three main types of feature extant: A) Fragmentary field boundaries. Some are low, stoney banks 1 to 2.6 metres wiede and 0.15 to 0.40 metres high but these are the better preserved elements among generally slighter, stoney scarps and intermitten stoney lines, the robbed remains of former boundaries. All but one occupy the south part of the site, providing a glimpse of a small collection of sub-rectangular and irregular fields. There is also a slight linear depression, possibly a trackway, 4 metres wide and 0.3 metres deep. It appears to be later than the adjacent field. B) Prominent lynchets, four or possibly five, which run along the contours. These are bold features, south-facing, 2 to 8 metres long and up to 2.5 metres high. All are approximately parallel and have smooth profiles indicative of over-ploughing. They do not form recognizable smooth terraces or fields and could be quite distinct from A). C) Field clearance cairns. In addition to an overall scattering of stones are some thirty-eight constructed clearance mounds. The majority are concentrated centrally around three of the contour lynchets, though there are several to the south and east. Most are near circular or oval in plan, ranging in size from c. 2 metres to 14 metres in diameter and of low relief, i.e. 0.10 to 0.70 metres high. An average is c. 5 metres diameter and 0.3 metres high. Nearly all have only slight outer scarps giving way to flat or slightly domed tops; pitting is frequent and indeed two appear as stoney rings, attesting robbing of their constituent material. Stone size is from small to medium (0.10 to 0.20 metres diameter) with occasional larger blocks. There are five instances of clearance cairns positioned on lynchet slopes, strongly suggesting placement long after lynchet formation. Taken with the recorded poor state of the field boundaries in the feature group this hints that many of the clearance cairns may relate to removal of stone from the boundaries rather than picking for and during arable farming. Consequently, many could be post-medieval in date. Other features recorded are: Two small upright stones of triangular outline are 0.40 and 0.50 metres high above ground and set 2.5 metres apart at SS 8664 4065. They are possibly small orthostats from a vanished field boundary, or perhaps a field entrance, and are recorded separately as MSO9225. Three low, turf mounds, all c. 2 metres diameter and up to 0.35 metres high. Possibly turf-covered field clearance cairns or mounds from tree extraction. All are indicated on field drawings. Dating of the fields is difficult given the lack of data and poor state of preservation. However, the small, irregular fields occupying the south part of the site would fit best into a prehistoric context. Their precise relationship to the contour lynchets is not clear. Nothing of relevance is depicted on the Exford Tithe Map of 1840. [2-5] A number of the field boundaries and lynchets described by the above authority are visible as fragmentary earthwork banks on aerial photographs of the 1970s onwards. The features were transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme survey. The clearance cairns could not be identified during the aerial survey, but a possible additional boundary bank was recorded at circa SS 8656 4053, possibly delineating a north to south trackway up to 12 metres wide. The aerial survey evidence may also support a reinterpretation some of the fragmentary field earthworks described above, centred on circa SS 8648 4047, as a possible small hillslope enclosure approximately 45 metres by 30 metres in size, or circa 0.1 hectares in area. This is comparable to the circular enclosure some 450 metres to the northeast, or the smaller Sweetworthy enclosures. [6-8] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R McDonnell, 21 January 1981.
  • <2> Map: 1840. Exford Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <3> Technical drawing: Pattison, P. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987. Codsend Moor Part 1/ink survey . 1:1250. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Pattison, P. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, F1, 29 September 1987.
  • <5> Collection: Pattison, P., Quinnell, N.V., Fletcher, M. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987-1988. RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 967-8 (29 April 1973).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA 2245-6 (1982).
  • <8> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185.
  • <9> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36170, Extant 15 March 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO169
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10404
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11203
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11204
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6725
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE84
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36170
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33533
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 19319
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33534



Grid reference Centred SS 8659 4060 (363m by 491m)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Mar 15 2022 2:41PM


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