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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 36065

Hob Uid: 36065
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Cutcombe
Grid Ref : SS8703040770
Summary : The remains of a fragmentary field system, cairn groups, hut circles & house platforms of possible prehistoric date have been identified and surveyed on the east side of Hoar Moor and Codsend Moors. The field system is roughly co-axial, on an approximately NNE-SSW alignment. Between 20 and 30 cairns, surviving up 12 metres in diameter and less than 0.8 metres high, are scattered throughout field system. Much of the field system is visible on aerial photogaphs but the moorland vegetation obscures many of the cairns from view.
More information : Centred SS 871406. The remains of extensive prehistoric field systems, cairn groups, hut circles, house platforms and the remnants of a massively built circular enclosure (SS 84 SE 25) lie on the east side of Hoar Moor and the west two thirds of Codsend Moors. The regular system of rectangular fields is defined by substantial stone banks which in places are 3.0m wide and 0.5m high. Fields stretch for nearly 2km across the south facing hill side orientated up and slightly across the slope at about 30 degrees east of north. A broad band of peat bog divides the system in two.

The main concentration of between 20 and 30 cairns straddles the boundary between the two moors but other smaller groups can be found scattered across Codsend Moors. These cairns are up to 12m in diameter and usually less then 0.8m high. (1)

Rectilinear field system with hillslope enclosure (SS 84 SE 25), two probable hut circles and field clearance cairns situated on a south-facing slope on Codsend Moor. The group is sited on enclosed land between Dunkery Beacon and the River Quarme.
In 1981 R. McDonnell located extensive remains of prehistoric settlement and fields on Codsend and Hoar Moors (1). The present survey has defined four main groups of surviving features within the general area indicated by McDonnell. These have been given individual N.A.R. numbers; 37, 84, 85 and 86 whereas all were recorded formerly as SS 84 SE 37.
The present group, centred at SS 8705 4068 comprises 10.5 hectares of fields and other features, with a further 2.25 hectares of more fragmentary fields of the same "system" situated further north in the area centred SS 8700 4113. The larger group is associated with a hillslope enclosure SS 84 SE 25.
The field boundaries of the system survive as substantial banks, or scarps where soil has accumulated against the north and west faces, composed of small and medium size stones (av. 0.1 to 0.2 metres in diameter) and occasional larger stones and boulders. Where fully visible these banks have an even, bowl profile spanning an average width of 3 metres and are 0.3 to 0.9 metres high. At (A) is the only possible, true field entrance; a small break 2.6 metres wide.
The overall pattern formed is rectilinear, dominated by a series of parallel boundaries running diagonally across the contours at a bearing of 27 degrees. Contour-following banks divide some of the resulting strips into smaller, rectilinear areas. There are several smaller, more sinuous banks and scarps north and east of the hillslope enclosure. These are of uncertain function but possibly relate to another phase of land use. Field banks run into marsh in all
directions from the main concentration; there is no doubt that the "system" was formerly more extensive and is now overlain by peat cover. There is no evidence that any boundary extended onto open moorland beyond the present Inclosed land; the intermittent bank at the extremity of the north concentration is probably the original north end of the "system" as a whole.
Mainly on the west and south east margins of the fields are a small number of field clearance cairns: twelve were recorded but thick bracken cover could be hiding more. All are small, round or oval heaps of small and medium size local stone partly turf covered. They are 2.5 to 5.0 metres in diameter. Two are located on field banks. There may be some reason to doubt their contemporaneity with the fieldsystem given their grouping on the east and south west margins of the fields where banks are poorly preserved. Conversely the clearance is in the vicinity of two hut circles with which it could be directly associated.
At SS 8689 4064 is a probable hut circle. An oval structure measuring 7 metres by 5 metres internally, with traces of coursed walling on the east, 1 metre thick, is offset to the north west in a larger, subcircular and apparently earthen mound of 12 metres diameter. The hut circle, therefore, appears heavily embanked on the south east side where the earthen mound is 0.9 metres high. On the remaining sides the feature is 0.3 to 0.5 metres high. A possible entrance only 0.50 metres wide, is located in the north west arc. There are two possible explanations; either the hut circle is inserted into an earlier feature or it is deliberately embanked around the south east side.
At SS 8715 4047 is a fragmentary hut circle, slightly oval along the contour and with an internal diameter of 4.6 to 6.9 metres. The walls, now only low banks of turf covered stone, are spread to between1 and 2.3 metres in width and only 0.25 metres high on the east and west. The interior has been levelled into the slope by cutting in to a depth of 0.45 metres on the north side and building up to 0.65 metres on the south side. No entrance is visible.
At SS 8692 4072 is a low, flat-topped crescentic earthen mount 7 to 10metres in diameter and 0.50 metres high. It is of uncertain function. A short scarp (B), 9 metres long was the only indication of a sub-circular enclosure recorded as Somerset S.M.R. 34427 (within the fieldsystem).
At SS 8711 4027 is a flat-topped, apparently turf mound measuring 11.9metres north to south by 9.2 metres east to west. Built onto a slope,the mound is highest on the downslope at 1.4 metres: to east and west it is c. 0.7 metres high and on the north only 0.2 metres. Its function is not certain.
The precise relationship of the hillslope enclosure SS 84 SE 25 to the field system is not clear. That the two were associated at some time during their functional periods seems inevitable. However, (C), an east to west field bank does meet the east wall of the enclosure as an eroded but clear scarp. Its line could be continued into the enclosure as the scarp forming the south limit of the building platform. This introduces the possibility that the latter scarp is a
re-used field boundary, indicating a primary position for the field system with the enclosure built over it. The relationship remains conjectural.
Both field system and enclosure are cut by post-medieval field boundary and field drainage channels: the only direct dating evidence. All the remains are, however, typologically prehistoric. The field layout bears superficial resemblance to the reaves of Dartmoor, though on a much reduced scale. Only one comparable field system is published for Exmoor itself: the much more overgrown system in high moorland at Great Hill (SS 84 SE 41), some 2.5 kilometres to the north west. It presents a superficially similar layout of long parallel boundaries divided by much smaller transverse banks. (3)

A roughly co-axial fragmentary field system on an approximately NNE-SSW alignment can be seen as earthworks on aerial photographs, centred on circa SS 87044065, Cutcombe parish. The visible extent of the field system covers an area of over 9 hectares, but as summarised above, was undoubtedly originally much more extensive.
The field system appears to abut, and may be directly associated with, the circular hillslope enclosure at circa SS 86944070 (NMR UID 36031); this may represent a phase of enclosed settlement pre- or post-dating the unenclosed settlement indicated by the hut circles situated at circa SS 89694064 and SS 87144047.
Several mounds between 6 and 8 metres diameter have been transcribed to the west and south of the field system, which may indicate later, post-medieval clearance, as described above, but vegetation cover makes the identification of such features from aerial photographs difficult.
The northern area of field boundaries at circa SS 87004113, described above, was not recognised during the NMP survey.
Although morphologically similar to the other islands of relic field system on Codsend Moors, most strikingly NMR UID 36178 roughly 500 metres to the south-east, the difference in alignment between these two areas (20 degrees east of north as compared to 50 degrees), may also indicate different phases of enclosure. (4-6)




Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (R McDonnell, Western Arch Trust)
Page(s) : 62
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 126, 1982
Source Number : 2
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Somerset C.C. SMR, dated 10-MAR-86
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Source Number : 4
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/73109 964-7 29-APR-1973
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Source Number : 5
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : ENPA MAL 77014 029-30 20-MAY-1977
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Source Number : 6
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : ENPA 2245-6 ??-???-1982
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Source Number :
Source : Codsend Moor Part 1/ink survey
Source details :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Field System, Cairnfield, Hut Circle
Evidence : Earthwork, Structure
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Field System
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33531
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33532
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33533
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33534
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 34427
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO9193
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 84 SE 37
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 974507
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 974503
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 36181
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 36178
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 36170
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1473010
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 36031
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 84 SE 37
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1987-09-17
End Date : 1987-09-17
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01