I was particularly looking forward to visiting this site as it is not every day you get a chance to visit a new stone circle
The weather had been fantastic and I was looking forward to watching the sun go down from a stone circle – something I had never done before. That was the plan anyway!
We drove up, we drove down. We drove up again and down again. All the while the light fading as the sun finally set on the horizon. Still no sign of the circle.
What was throwing us is that the O/S map shows the stones next to a sheep fold and previous notes also refer to a sheep fold. The sheep fold is no longer there!
We eventually found the circle by stopping at every field gate and (ignoring the no entry signs) having a look around in the field.
This is the best advice I can give for anyone looking for the circle:
The circle is close to the road but you obviously need to find the right field gate. Travelling north the circle is on the left. Keep an eye out for a small brick bridge that the road goes over (over a small stream). The field gate you need is the one just before the bridge. Once you have the right gate access is easy!
The circle is visible from the gate but it is no effort to climb over it – no barbed wire!
Probably due to frustration in finding the thing (plus the fact that I had missed the sunset) I was a little disappointed with this stone circle. There were only 3 or 4 stones of any size (about 2 feet high) – the rest were very small and quite loose in the soil. They were easily moved with one hand and could have been easily pulled out of the ground if someone had wanted to. The larger stones were earth fast. The smaller stones also looked completely different to the larger stones. Why have such discrepancies in stone size? It does make me wonder if the smaller stones have been added later to perhaps show where the original larger stones once stood? They were so shallow in the ground I don’t see how they could have stood for thousands of years! The largest stone is a fallen one – about 4ft long.
I am glad I found the circle but all in all a bit of a disappointment.
[visited 1/7/6] Having never visited an exmoor site before, I had some trepidation as to how much we'd be able to see in high summer. The answer is, pretty much all of it. This is a weird little thing, about the same diameter as (say) Kingston Russell but with stones that struggled to reach my knees. I liked it but couldn't help thinking, is this all it is? Now, having visited different sites on exmoor in short open grass I can apreciate how powerful this could have looked 4 thousand years ago, stones very much defining a ritual space.
Access is very good, we parked just down the road but there is parking by the gate to the field. Someone had actually parked in the field within 10 metres of the circle and seemingly then gone for a walk. Which was unsightly and spoilt the "we are in a desolate moor" effect, I think the circle was aiming for but never mind. You can find the circle about 20m to the right of the sheep fold as you look from the road.
After the gradient-related excitement of Porlock Hill you feel on top of the world up here. You can see for miles and miles - back up to the Quantocks and out over the (yesterday, gloriously blue) Severn estuary to Wales. Exmoor ponies nibble around you while you lie back on the heathery/bilberried slope.
Typically I had no idea at the time that this site or the Whit Stones were up here.. but they're in the perfect spot and I can't say I'm surprised (which is why I feel justified in my fieldnote despite not seeing them..)
The road goes right past the stones here, and they say you will rarely see hill ponies grazing around them after dusk. Horses being ridden refuse to go along the lane. The spectre that haunts the area is of a horse, and people tell of hooves clattering hollowly along the hard surface of the road when no horse is there.
Mentioned by S Toulson in her 'Moors of the Southwest, v1.' 1983.
[SS 8451 4466] Stone Circle (NR) The stone circle on Porlock Allotment, to the west of the road from Porlock to Exford discovered by Mr. E. T. McDermott, is 80ft. in diameter. The stones would probably have stood originally about 6 ft. apart, suggesting an approx. number of 43. The remaining stones consist of 10 standing stones and broken off stumps, and 11 prostrate stones. [See Illustrations Card.]
Some of the fallen stones illustrated by St. G. Gray have been removed but all the earthfast stones remain. The tallest upright stone is 0.8m high, but the largest stone is a recumbent stone (St. G. Gray's No. 13) which is 1.9m.long and 0.7m. wide. The mound shown by St. G. Gray at SS 8453 4467 is a robbed and
overgrown cairn. It has a maximum height of 0.4m and is listed by Grinsell as Porlock No. 3. Surveyed at 1/2500. (SS 84514466) Stone Circle (NR) (SS 84534468) Cairn (NR)
SS 844447. This circle was greatly disturbed during the 1939-45 war. Many of the stones have fallen around a 24.4m circle, one about 1.9m at the south south east.SS 84544469. Porlock 3. Mutilated cairn 10 paces diameter and 1 ft high, visited by Grinsell 25th April 1962. Porlock Stone Circle SS 84514466.
This monument is situated towards the S edge of Porlock Common, on flattish ground just above the gentle SW slope to Colley Water, which rises 300m to the ESE. There are views to the S and W across Porlock Allotment.
Of 21 stones in an earlier survey (2) only 14 remain. Seven are standing, seven are fallen. Three stones have fallen since the earlier survey. Most noticeable is the disappearance of five stones from the SW arc. One stone appears to be modern. All are of local sandstone.
The fallen stones appear to lie close to their original positions; together with the surviving uprights they form a true (though not perfect) circle of c24.5m diameter. The majority of the stones are quite small but typical of Exmoor, only the fallen stone reaching unusually large proportions. The standing stones all have their major axis aligned around the circumference of the circle. The status of the central stone, Grays `central picket' is not at all certain. Central stones do occur elsewhere but are not common (10) and in this case unconvincing.
A cairn formerly recorded with this circle is now recorded separately as SS 84 SW 129. It lies only 20m NE of the circle centre. `Recumbant stones' NE of the circle (11) could not be identified. There is a general scatter of stones around the site but none which can be reliably connected. (12)
Only fourteen stones - 7 standing and 7 fallen - remain of this circle, which probably had more than 20 stones originally. The site was probably damaged by military training in the war. There may be the remains of a round barrow by the wall. The stones are sandstone.