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Name:Defended Settlement Above Sweetworthy
ENPHER Monument Number:MSO7356
Type of Record:Monument
Grid Reference:SS 8893 4238
Parish:LUCCOMBE, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Summary

Two prehistoric enclosures, surviving as fairly substantial earthworks on unenclosed moorland, close to the hill-slope enclosure of Sweetworthy. They are 35m and 37m in diameter, and both contain evidence of hut platforms.

Images

Settlement above Sweetworthy. 2009  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Settlement above Sweetworthy. 2009 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Monument Types

Description

(SS 88904243 and SS 88984244) Two probable prehistoric ringworks similar to the one at Sweetworthy (MSO7333) are visible on the air photograph. (1-2)

Two sub-circular enclosures, 80 metres apart, are situated at 360 metres Ordnance Datum on a narrow shelf of a north slope of about 1 in 5. Both are heather and bracken covered and have recently been fenced round by The National Trust. The western enclosure, at SS 8887 4236, has an internal diameter of 35 metres, but is in poor condition, and untraceable around the north east quadrant. Part of the east and north west sides consist of an outward facing scarp 2.5 metres long and 0.4 metres high but from the south east to the west there is a distinct bank with a flat top 2 metres wide. The inner face, which has been partly scarped to level the southern half of the interior, has slopes 6 metres long and 1.1 metres high. The outer face of the bank is from 1 to 3 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. There are no traces of an outer ditch which might be expected on the upper south side, if only to deflect surface run-off. No entrance gap can be seen unless a faint butt end of bank on the west is indicative of its former position. In the south west quadrant of the interior an ill defined semi- circular scoop, 6 metres across and 0.2 metres deep, may represent a house platform. Although the construction of the work seems mostly of earth with some rubble; an alignment of four blocks of stone exposed in the surface of a former trackway, where it crosses the bank in the south west, suggests there was at least an inner revetment. The eastern enclosure, at SS 8899 4241, has an internal diameter of 37 metres and is in fair condition. The lower north east quadrant of the perimeter consists of a scarp, 3 metres long and 0.5 metres high, which merges into the hillslope. Elsewhere there is bank between 5 and 8 metres wide overall and about 0.4 metres high save on the south where the inner face is 0.9 metres high. Here, as with the western earthwork there seems to have been some scarping of the hillslope to create a partly levelled interior. In the north west there is a possible simple entrance, 2 metres wide, flanked by low stub ends of bank. There are no traces of any outer ditch to the enclosure. Close to the bank within the western part there is a depression 15 metres overall with a level interior 10 metres across. It is 0.3 metres deep with faint traces of banking on the eastern side. There is a 4 metre gap in the north west (in the direction of the entrance) and the feature appears to be a house site. Both sites are only half the size of the nearby Bagley and Sweetworthy settlements (MSO7345 and MSO7333) but otherwise similar, except for the apparent lack of outer ditches. Whether or not they are contemporaneous both fall within the category of Iron Age or Iron Age/Romano-British hillslope settlements. To have three within 300 metres and a fourth 600 metres away creates a unique grouping between 330 metre to 350 metre contours in a sheltered area cut by small combes which extend northwards to the East Water valley. The enclosures were located to the National Grid using GPS as part of the RCHME Exmoor project. The sites are discussed in their archaeological landscape context in the survey report. (3-4)

Two sub-circular enclosures of probable late prehistoric date are visible on aerial photographs surviving as fairly substantial earthworks on unenclosed moorland on the north facing slopes of Dunkery Hill, close to the hillslope enclosure of Sweetworthy. The assumed centre point of the easternmost of the two enclosures is given by the above authority. However, as also stated above the north east quadrant is not visible. The south-western quadrant is visible for almost 70 metres of its circumference, and is centred on circa SS 88864234. This section appears to define a slightly ovoid enclosure with the longer axis running downslope. The internal diameter of 35 metres quoted above may be slightly low, the visible fragment having a possible minimum diameter of over 40 metres. Although more is visible of the the second enclosure earthworks, it is also incomplete, visible on the aerial photographs as two lengths of curved bank at SS 88994238 and SS 89004242, 58 and 36 metres in length respectively. It appears to be notably more ovoid in shape than the eastern enclosure, the long axis of the site following the contour of the combe roughly east to west.

The internal areas of the two enclosures do appear slightly irregular in appearance but it is not possible to define discrete hut circles. However, a possible third smaller enclosure, perhaps an unenclosed hut circle, can be seen to the south-west of the eastern enclosure at SS 88974237. (5-7)

Additional reference. (8)

(Eastern) Wide bank forming circular enclosure. (Western) south-west arc of circular enclosure. (11)

May be associated with surrounding earthworks (MSO7333, MSO7357). (14)

(Western) Possible unfinished hillslope enclosure - 120 degrees of hypothetical circular earthwork and ditch, although the whole circuit can be seen in vegetational changes. Surviving bank is very stony and about 0.3 metres high and 3 metres wide. Track crosses the enclosure but there is no indication of the original entrance. (15)

Monument scheduled on 13/7/1994. (16)

The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 records both enclosures as in poor condition and at high risk. They have suffered severe damage from bracken. (19)

Work was undertaken in March 2009 to clear scrub from the enclosures. (20)

As part of th 2009/10 manument management scheme vegetation control was undertaken on the site, through cutting and spraying, around and within the enclosures. (21)

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SSO705 - Aerial Photograph: West Air Photography. Oblique Aerial Photograph. 27534.
[2]SMO4109 - Serial: Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.
[3]SMO5111 - Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. F1 Quinell, N. V. 06/08/1987.
[4]SMO5777 - Report: Riley, H.. 1996. The Prehistoric Enclosures and Medieval and Post Medieval Settlements at Bagley and Sweetworthy, Luccombe, Somerset.
[5]SSO113 - Aerial Photograph: 10/1/1989. DAP LD28-34, LF17-19.
[6]SMO4069 - Aerial Photograph: Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8842/18 (15856/01). 20/01/1998.
[7]SMO4068 - Aerial Photograph: Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 955-6. 29/01/1973.
[8]SMO5777 - Report: Riley, H.. 1996. The Prehistoric Enclosures and Medieval and Post Medieval Settlements at Bagley and Sweetworthy, Luccombe, Somerset.
[8]SMO7014 - Monograph: Kain, R.. 2006. England's Landscape: The South West. Collins. Volume 3. p 57; fig. 3.14.
[9]SMO6274 - Collection: RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
[10]SMO7568 - Archive: Exmoor National Park NMP:SS 84 SE. MD002185.
[11]SSO708 - Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8942.
[12]SSO289 - Aerial Photograph: April 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3175.
[13]SSO252 - Aerial Photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-177 Run 89. 8668.
[14]SSO977 - Unassigned: Dennison, E, Somerset County Council. 15.02.84.
[15]SSO510 - Unassigned: SMR file 33712 [Not in HER files 21/6/2000].
[16]SSO1121 - Unpublished document: English Heritage. 12/8/1994. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
[17]SSO1801 - Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme.
[18]SMO5434 - Survey: Sweetworthy/ink survey . 1:250. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
[19]SEM7402 - Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
[20]SEM7897 - Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 12.
[21]SEM7898 - Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2010. Monument Management Scheme: 2009-10 Report.

Other References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO160
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11354
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11356
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7356
  • Monarch UID: 36096
  • National Monuments Record: SS 84 SE49
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust Land
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR (Somerset): 33710
  • Somerset SMR (Somerset): 33712
Date Last Edited:Nov