MSO9254 - Medieval or post-medieval deserted settlement in Mansley Combe (Monument)


A deserted settlement consisting of at least six buildings arranged in a linear spread. The buildings are mostly single-celled and have single or opposed entrances, suggesting a medieval or early post-medieval date.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

Strip lynchets seen from aerial photograph marks and plotted on SMR map. [1] A deserted farm site in an area of enclosed land named 'Ham' on the southern slopes of Dunkery, thought to equate with the unlocated site of Mansley in Aston's list. [2-4] The rhododendron and Scots pine in the valley were planted in the middle of the last century to provide cover for red deer. [5] Local memories suggest that the farm was occupied until the mid 19th Century. [6] The site lies in a sheltered, south-facing wooded hollow and consists of earthworks of three to four ruined buildings set around a small yard. Nearby is a further square building footing situated within a well-preserved contemporary field system. Elements of the fields survive across much of the present enclosed area, and include a series of small narrow plots defined by stone rubble, having a prehistoric appearance but overlying a probably post-medieval boundary lynchet. There is a suggestion of later emparkment around the farm site, with a 'deer fence' type boundary. [8] The site is centred at SS 9029 4059 and consists of at least six buildings arranged in a linear spread within a sheltered hollow on the south facing slopes of Mansley Combe. The buildings are all defined by rubbly banks usually 0.5 metres high and up to 2 metres wide (fully described below). They are mostly single celled and have single or opposed entrances. Their relatively simple plan and arrangement suggest a medieval or early post-medieval date, and there are too many structures to support the previous assertions that this is a single farmstead. An association between this site and the unlocated "Mansley" mentioned in Aston [4] is also by no means certain. BUILDING TABULATION Building 1 (SS 9029 4061) is 11.3 metres by 3 metres (internal). A two celled platform defined by stony banks and scarps up to 0.6 metres high. No entrance visible. Building 2 (SS 9028 4060) is 11 metres by 5.5 metres (internal). A rectangular building defined by a combination of rubbly banks, wall footings and scarps. The building has been cut through by a path which has caused some erosion but has also revealed the footing of the southeast wall which is 0.7 metres wide. The entrance is obscured by the path. Building 3 (SS 9028 4059) is 11.2 metres by 2.5 metres (internal). A rectangular building running across the slope defined by rubbly banks. An entrance 1.5 metres wide is visible on the south side. Building 4 (SS 9027 4057) is 10.9 metres by 3.6 metres (internal). It is a rectangular building running down the slope, defined by rubbly banks up to 0.8 metres high and 1.6 metres wide. The entrance is on the east with a large stone block on its north side. Building 5 (SS 9028 4055) is 7.4 metres by 4.1 metres (internal). It is a rectangular building sited across the slope, and defined by rubbly banks 1 metre wide and 0.7 metres high. Building 6 (SS 9031 4058) is 8 metres by 3.2 metres (internal) It is a probable building, defined by earthen scarps with some stone visible. The interior is very disturbed and uneven. There is a possible entrance on the west side. Buildings surveyed at 1:2500 scale with GPS in July 1997. The buildings lie within an extensive, presumably contemporary, field system (SS 94 SW 35) containing strip lynchets. [9,10] Surveyed at 1:500 scale in April 1998. [11-13] This area was surveyed as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme. Evidence for at least three of the structures listed above (Building 3, 4 and 5) was visible on specialist oblique aerial photographs, but little more could be confidently identified. Very little was apparent on the vertical coverage. [14,15] A digital reconstruction drawing was created in 2013 by Peter Lorimer. [16] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [17]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • --- Unpublished document: Dove, C.. 2022. Exmoor LHL Panel Meeting 28 November 2022. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <1> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. SS9040.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 4174.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-177 Run. 8688.
  • <4> Article in serial: Aston, M. 1983. Deserted Farmsteads on Exmoor and the 1327 lay subsidy. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 127. 71-104.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. J Carslake, The National Trust. 1992.
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Mr. Bawden, 1992.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. 1988. IR 6588 146..
  • <8> Article in serial: Preece, A.. 1993. in Webster, CJ and Croft, RA "Somerset Archaeology 1993". Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 137. 150-1.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. R Wilson-North and H Riley, 23 July 1997.
  • <10> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <11> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1998. Mansley Copse/pencil survey . 1:500. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <12> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1998. Mansley Copse/ink survey . 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 21 April 1998.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9040/09 (15869/19), 20 January 1998.
  • <15>XY Archive: Hegarty, C.. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #38264 ]
  • <16> Artwork: Lorimer, P.. 2013. Mansley Combe, Exmoor: Digital reconstruction drawing. Digital.
  • <17> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1087864, Extant 24 May 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO547
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11863
  • Local Heritage List Status (Candidate)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW94
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1087864
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34441



Grid reference Centred SS 2903 1405 (82m by 159m)
Map sheet SS21SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (2)

Record last edited

Nov 8 2023 3:06PM


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