MSO9202 - Multi-phased field system on Codsend Moor (Monument)


A complex multi-period field system is visible on aerial photographs in the form of parallel lynchets or field boundaries overlain by later boundaries, together with a sub-rectangular enclosure and possible trackways.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

Full Description

Complex group of multi-period, field-system remains, a possible enclosure and 19th century mill leat covering an area of circa 20 hectares on moderate and steep slopes on the south central part of Codsend Moor. Centred at SS 8770 4025. At the time of survey the area was under rough pasture, quite close-cropped with occasional patches of bracken. The area to the north, north-east and west of the remains is wet marsh and on the south field boundaries extend to within a few metres of the River Quarme. Several springs issue from the hillside among the field systems and drain almost due south to the Quarme. A number have cut small, steep gullies up to circa 8 metres deep but their flow is now restricted by modern drainage which has diverted water into channels flowing alongside the major north-south field boundaries. This drainage was initiated probably in the early 19th century [1]. The most recent feature of note is a 19th century leat (A) constructed at some time between 1804 [2] and 1842 [3] to serve a corn mill at Bank Down (MSO11183). The leat was taken off the Quarme at approximately SS 8746 4007, a point now lost, and ran to SS 8807 4018 where it joined a stream also feeding the mill; a distance of c. 630 metres with a fall of c. 6 metres. Some 530 metres of its course is visible. It is now a silted channel with upcast bank downslope, following a fairly straight course and varying considerably in preservation. The best section is just east of a point SS 8785 4012 where it takes a pronounced south loop to negotiate a local obstacle. Here, it is U-shaped, 1 metre wide by 0.7 metres deep with an upcast bank 2.3 metres wide by 0.7 metres high. Elsewhere it is more silted and in places the bank broken down. The leat cuts through site features of all categories described below. There are three identifiable field systems: Group 1. The earliest, and most striking, is a series of long, parallel lynchets aligned diagonally across the contours at an angle of 45 to 60 degrees. The lynchets average 3 metres wide and 0.75 metres high (but up to 5.5 metres by 1.6 metres) and are mostly very stoney, though sometimes partly turf-covered. There seems to be a pattern formed of long, strip-fields c. 30 to 35 metres wide divided unequally by transverse lynchets but the pattern is not complete and not entirely consistent. There has been considerable damage at the east end around SS 8798 4028. (B) is possibly an enclosure at SS 8754 4019. Its shape is sub-oval and two field lynchets stop short of its north arc, possibly either respecting or superseded by it. The circuit encloses a former stream or spring line marked by a pronounced north-south depression; it may be that the "enclosure" is simply a field whose shape was governed by the need to encircle a wet area. (C) is a double lynchet marking the course of a probable trackway 3 to6 metres wide, running along a field boundary from/to enclosure (B). (D) SS 8781 4010; a small, square field with a double lynchet; possibly another length of trackway, along its north margin. There are no definite settlement traces associated with this group of fields. In form and alignment they are very similar to two other field blocks on Codsend Moor (MSO9193 and MSO9200) both of which are prehistoric. The three possibly were part of one landscape system. Group 2. Clearly overlying Group 1 and located mostly in the west half of the surveyed area are larger fields, perhaps six in all, less regular and sub-rectangular in plan. They are defined by more sinuous boundaries preserved as tumbled stone banks (probably wall remains) averaging 2.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. Unlike Group 1 they have not been ploughed over. At their eastern extremity, a stream appears to have functioned as one of the boundaries while on the south, a few metres north of the Quarme, a natural slope has been utilised as the boundary although enhanced by the dumping of stone. At SS 8770 4006 is a possible fragment of trackway along the south edge of these fields. They are pre 1800 but otherwise undated. Group 3. Numerous, low stone lines/rickles can be seen across the whole surveyed area. They are narrow lines of surface and/or earth-fast stones no more than 1 metre wide and 0.3 metres high. Alignment is generally north-south but topography between two streams has resulted in three blocks of parallel stone lines. As a group they are clearly incomplete in length and spacing but the original design was of very narrow strips of indeterminate length but probably c. 20 metres in width. No transverse divisions can be detected. Traces of narrow rig (c. 3 metres furrow to furrow) especially at SS 8773 4013 and SS 8767 4010 are similarly aligned and probably associated; the stone lines may, therefore, be incipient divisions between strip fields, markers rather than physical barriers. In 1803-4 Codsend Moor was inclosed. The Inclosure Map shows the Moor divided into numerous plots, the majority of north-south alignment. Several are remarkably long (1 kilometre!) and narrow. The map is only a sketch so precise correlation with surveyed features could not be made but it is evident that a series of narrow, parallel plots were planned in the surveyed area at the time of inclosure. It is possible, therefore, that the stone rickles surveyed are very late features established by inclosure but no longer used by 1842 [3] and were small plots of arable awarded to individuals with former common rights there. The scenario is complicated by the Bank Down leat (A) established and functioning during the same period and cutting across the lines of the strip plots. If it is assumed that the two could not have co-existed then there is a second possiblity; the Inclosure Map is a projected plan which was not fully implemented (this is encouraged by the very different landscape picture shown on the Cutcombe Tithe Map [3] and the rough correlation is therefore a coincidence. If this is so, then the stone rickles could be considerably earlier, possibly medieval. There is no clear relationship preserved between Groups 2 and 3. At points (E) and (F) rickles joint field banks of Group 2 and appear to respect them. In this locality it almost looks as if these rickles are subdivisions of the larger fields but further east there are no fields to subdivide. The impression received is that group 2 preceeds group 3 but the question remains unresolved. A short length of bank of field Group 1 lies 300 metres north of the main group at centre SS 8760 4084. A large number of clearance mounds and scatters were recorded during survey; 89 in all. The majority are small, partly turf-covered stone heaps no greater than 2 metres in diameter and 0.2 to 0.4 metres high. (G) (H) and (I) are concentrations of the smaller heaps. (G) and (H) are possibly associated with hand clearance of arable areas while (I), on the edge of the field systems, may be primary clearance never fully completed. Their stone content, like the majority of stone utilised in field boundaries themselves, is in the small to medium range (up to circa 0.30 metres diameter). There is a general scatter of larger clearance mounds over the whole area; the largest is c. 8 metres in diameter but on average they are c. 4 to 5 metres and 0.5 metres high. Several lie close to, or actually on, lynchets of group 1 and are once more probably arable clearance. An exception may be the group on the extreme east, centred at SS 8794 4021 where their density hints at preparatory or stripping-out clearance: arable would have been impeded. At point (J) is a dense concentration of cleared stone covering an area c. 30 metres by 20 metres; the local topography is especially steep and probably not suitable for agriculture, possibly leading to deliberate dumping. Terracing associated with it may indicate possible settlement platforms - but this is tentative. Parts of the systems are visible on aerial photographs [4]. [1,6] This section of the Codsend Moors multi-period field system is clearly visible on aerial photographs as extensive earthwork or stone built banks and was transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme Survey. The two field systems are laid out as described by [1]. The bank defined enclosures reference above as E and F are also clearly visible and are located at circa SS 8754 4019 and SS 8781 4011; the latter may display some evidence of subdivision in its southwestern corner. It is possible that the stream gulley which may mark the eastern boundary of Group 2, as the later system is described above, may have eroded a field boundary bank which previously followed its course. The probably 19th Century leat has also been transcribed and recorded separately as MSO11183. [5,6]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. P Pattison and IS Sainsbury, RCHME Field Investigation, 24 February 1988.
  • <2> Unpublished document: 1804. Cutcombe and Exford Inclosure Map and Apportionment.
  • <3> Map: 1842. Cutcombe Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 964-7 (29 April 1973).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA 2246-7 (1982).
  • <6> Article in monograph: Pattison, P and Sainsbury, I. 1989. Prehistoric Earthworks on Codsend and Hoar Moors, Somerset. From Cornwall to Caithness: Some Aspects of British Field Archaeology. Archaeopress. Bowden, M. et. al..
  • <7> Collection: RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <8> Survey: Codsend Moor Part 2/ink survey . 1:1250. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <9> Survey: Codsend Moor, SS 84 SE 86/ink survey . 1:2500. General: Paper. Photocopy.



Grid reference Centred SS 8772 4027 (890m by 484m)
Map sheet SS84SE

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Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO170
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10406
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE86
  • National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 36178
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 19321

Record last edited

Oct 23 2013 2:52PM


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