MSO9256 - Prehistoric field system and settlement in Mansley Combe (Monument)


A prehistoric field system covering about 12 hectares on the south facing slopes of Mansley Combe, visible as spread lynchets and a series of well defined stony banks 2.5 metres wide and 0.4 metres high.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A prehistoric field system, centred at SS 8990 4060, on the south facing slopes of Mansley Combe. It covers an area of about 12 hectares, and is visible as a combination of well defined stony banks, 2.5 metres wide and 0.4 metres high, and very spread stony lynchets, 0.6 metres high. The system forms a reasonably coherent arrangement of rectangular fields with at least one possible settlement site at SS 8991 4057: a platformed area measuring 30 metres by 20 metres terraced into the hill by up to 0.9 metres on its upper side. The field system has been cut through by a pronounced hollow way, and has been extensively mutilated by the presence of circular cattle feeders on the earthworks and by farm tracks. This field system is reminiscent of the extensive prehistoric fields on Codsend Moor and appears to represent an extension of that system. Surveyed at 1:2500 scale with GPS, July 1997. [1] A field system of uncertain date survives as a series of well defined stoney banks in Mansley Combe, centred approximately on SS 9002 4057. Several elements of the field system described above are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards and have been surveyed and transcribed from aerial photographs as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey. Some of the earthworks show similarities to the possible prehistoric field systems on Codsend Moors to the west and may be contemporary with these features. However, although at least one boundary is cut by a probably medieval or post-medieval hollow way at circa SS 8985 4064, supporting an interpretation of a pre-medieval date, the relationship of the wider field system with other probable medieval features in this area is unclear. For instance, it is unclear from the aerial photographs alone whether the field system abutting the southern edge of the possibly medieval sheep fold at SS 9015 4059 is contemporary with the fold or the boundaries to the east. The remains in this area remain complex and would benefit from further investigation. [2-8] Rubble banks running up and down slope are joined by lynchets to form two or three small fields. Similar to prehistoric fields and crossed by medieval or post-medieval banks. [9] On the south facing slopes of Mansley Combe is an extensive area of enclosed land between the unenclosed mass of Dunkery Beacon to the north, and the River Avill to the south. This represents an attempt to enclose and cultivate this land in the medieval and post-medieval periods. The upper parts of this enclosed land have not been improved, and in this area was recorded an extensive prehistoric field system. The lowest slopes are enclosed by a substantial ditched boundary and within the area so defined are at least six stony lynchets running along the slope and a number of existing boundaries which incorporate lynchets. These represent a medieval field system and as such are presumably contemporary with the deserted settlement at Mansley Combe (MSO9254). [11] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [12]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 23 July 1997.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK 1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 3086. F20 4268-9 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/70386 346-7 (25 September 1970).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 960-61 (29 April 1973).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8940/1 (15869/22) (20 January 1998).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9040/09 (15869/19) (20 January 1998).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9040/12 (15856/21) (20 January 1998).
  • <8> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SW. MD002186.
  • <9> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. AP Preece, 1 January 1992.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: 1988. ENP Infra red 1988 65 88 146.
  • <11> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. SS94SW 35..
  • <12> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1087930, Extant 16 March 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 9021 4073 (1105m by 655m) Aerial survey
Map sheet SS94SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO549
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12206
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE107
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1087930
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34441
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35264

Record last edited

Mar 16 2022 3:03PM


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