Earthwork enclosure on Winsford Hill, 200m south east of Wambarrows
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Somerset (District Authority)
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- SS 87789 34204
Reasons for Designation
Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south
western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor and
Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little
excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, detailed survey work by the Royal
Commission on the Historical Monuments of England has confirmed a comparable
richness of archaeological remains with evidence of human exploitation and
occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day.
Much of the Exmoor landscape is formed by large areas of unenclosed moorland,
particularly across the central ridge and parts of the southern escarpment.
During the medieval and later periods the Royal Forest and surrounding commons
dominated the economy of the Exmoor landscape. It is known from contemporary
documentary sources that the commons were used for pasturing livestock and the
cultivation of crops and this is reflected in the remains of many hectares of
field systems (comprising low field banks and areas of slight ridge and
furrow) which are present on most of the commons. A system of embanked
earthwork enclosures associated with these field systems occur from the 13th
century and were thought to have been used mainly for growing crops. They
range in size from between 1.4ha to less than 0.2ha with most examples
enclosing around 0.4ha.
The earthwork enclosure on Winsford Hill, 200m south east of Wambarrows survives well in its original form and is a good example of a number of enclosures identified in this area of moorland. It will contain archaeological deposits and environmental evidence with the potential for providing important information about the rural economy and agricultural practices of the medieval, and later, Exmoor landscape. It is prominently located on the summit of Winsford Hill close to a well-used route through the open moorland.
The monument includes an earthwork enclosure located in open moorland on
Winsford Hill; it is situated on a broad area of level ground on the
summit of the hill which overlooks the steep Winn valley to the north and
the Barle valley to the south. The earthwork enclosure is believed to date
from the late medieval to early post-medieval period. The enclosed area is
defined by low earthen banks which are an average of 3.2m wide and between
0.5m and 0.8m high with a shallow outer ditch. It is rectilinear in plan
with overall dimensions of 17.6m by 13.2m with no apparent entrance. The
enclosure lies within, and is probably contemporary with, an extensive
field system composed of low field banks which define areas of
cultivation. A large expanse of ridge and furrow located in the area
around the enclosure is thought to be of a later date, although it may
conceal earlier ridge and furrow ploughing. A series of enclosures of
varying sizes which are thought to be associated with the field system
have been identified across Winsford Hill. These are known to have been
used for tillage of the Exmoor moorland since the 13th century, however,
the true purpose of this enclosure is unknown but its small size, in
relation to other identified enclosures, suggests that it was unlikely to
have been ploughed for arable cultivation.
The round barrow cemetery located in two groups, to the north west and
east, are the subject of a separate scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
'Proceedings Somerset Archaaeology & Natural History Society' in Proceedings Somerset Archaaeology and Natural History Society, , Vol. 122, (1978), 44-45
SS 83 SE 12, National Monuments Record,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing