Ancient boundary stone discovered in Royal Forest


Ancient boundary stone discovered

An ancient boundary stone has been re-erected thanks to sharp-eyed local landowner Chris Binnie who noticed the stone, some 4 feet long, hidden under molinia grass while out walking on Porlock Allotment on Exmoor.

Mr Binnie contacted the National Park office where arrangements were made for South West Archaeology to carry out a small archaeological excavation and the National Park field services team re-erected the stone.

Rob Wilson-North, head of the historic environment team at the National Park said: “We are very grateful to Chris Binnie both for finding this important stone and then kindly agreeing to fund the external costs incurred in the project to restore it to its rightful position.”

“The area known as the Royal Forest of Exmoor has dominated the Exmoor landscape for nearly 1000 years and for much of that time was owned by the King who marked the boundary of his land. It functioned as a larder for the needs of the Crown and Royal Court as well as becoming a valuable source of income through headage payments for masses of livestock which were grazed there from all around Exmoor during the summer months.”

The area was subject to Forest Law and during the medieval period this was strongly enforced. The boundary of the Forest became very important at this time and was regularly perambulated to ensure that it was being respected. Many of the boundary markers such as ancient barrows, standing stones, trees and other natural features, can still be found today and are an important legacy of this time.

Chris Binnie said: “It was very exciting to find this wonderful link with Exmoor’s distant past and it was rewarding to work with the National Park Authority to help ensure that the stone was surveyed and re-erected for future generations to enjoy.”

This weekend (25 June) the famous circular long distance walk, the Exmoor Perambulation is talking place. This traditional walk dates back over 725 years and marks the perambulation of the Royal Forest of Exmoor’s boundaries. The walk is fully subscribed this year with some 200 people taking advantage of the opportunity to pass through some unique areas of Exmoor not normally accessible to the public.

At the Perambulation the Heart of Exmoor team will be launching a leaflet about the history of the Royal Forest boundary which will be given to participants and will be available more widely in due course.


Clare O’Connor
Exmoor National Park Authority
Exmoor House
Dulverton, Somerset
TA22 9HL

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Helping people to enjoy and appreciate Exmoor National Park's moorland, and supporting those who take care of it.
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