Ancient Monuments

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Earthwork enclosure on Monkslade Common, 860m east of Fire Tower

A Scheduled Monument in Luxborough, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.143 / 51°8'34"N

Longitude: -3.4385 / 3°26'18"W

OS Eastings: 299467.056329

OS Northings: 139174.104133

OS Grid: SS994391

Mapcode National: GBR LL.86QC

Mapcode Global: VH6GT.CJ2N

Entry Name: Earthwork enclosure on Monkslade Common, 860m east of Fire Tower

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021121

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35709

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Luxborough

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes an earthwork enclosure situated on the western side
of Monkslade Common near the crest of a north east facing slope of Monkham
Hill. The enclosure, which is believed to date from the Iron Age, is oval
in plan and follows a general north-south alignment with its long axis
following the natural contour of the hill. The overall dimensions of the
enclosure are 68m from north to south and 54m east to west. It is defined
on the north, south and east sides by a ditch 7m in width and 0.7m deep
with a low internal bank; traces of a low counterscarp bank are also
visible, most obviously on the south and west sides. The western side of
the enclosure is defined by a bank 1.2m high and an external ditch, 0.5m
deep, visible on the south west side. Material for the banks is probably
derived from terracing to create a level interior and from the external
ditches. The probable original entrance into the enclosure is on the south
side and defined by a simple gap in the ditch and bank. Within the
enclosure are traces of a sub-circular building platform 10.5m across and
0.4m high on its north and north east side, it is defined on its east and
south east side by the line of the enclosure bank.

All fencing and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.
Hillslope enclosures provide the main evidence for the Iron Age on Exmoor.
First categorised by Lady Aileen Fox in 1952, their morphology has been
refined by the Royal Commission survey. Despite their name they do not
occur only on hillslopes, although their usual location is on a sheltered
valley side. They are smaller than hillforts, generally no larger than
between 50m and 80m across, and usually less well defended. The enclosure
itself is defined by a single bank, often with an associated ditch, with a
single entrance. In some cases, where natural slopes form part of the
defences, the bank may not form a complete circuit and may be missing
where the angle of slope acts in its stead. Where it can be recognised,
the settlement evidence within these enclosures comprises platforms
indicating the position of buildings.
Around 50 hillslope enclosures with upstanding earthworks have been
identified on Exmoor. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples, particularly those with
a complete or near complete circuit of defences, are considered worthy of

Despite having been reduced, probably by past cultivation practices, the
Iron Age hill-slope enclosure on Monkslade Common, 860m east of the Fire
Tower, survives comparatively well. It is one of a number of similar
enclosures which occupy hill-slopes in the locality. It will contain
environmental evidence and archaeological deposits which will provide
important information about the purpose of the enclosure, its inhabitants
and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, Archaeology of Exmoor, (1970), 88
SS 93 NE 6, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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