Seven bowl barrows and one bell barrow, known as ‘Five Barrows’ which form part of a larger round barrow cemetery.
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 others, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little excavation of its 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. Many of the field monuments surviving on Exmoor date from the later prehistoric period. Examples include stone settings, stone alignments, standing stones, and burial mounds (`barrows'). Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Over 370 bowl barrows, varying in diameter from 2m to 35m, have been recorded on Exmoor. Many of these are found on or close to the summits of the three east-west ridges which cross the moor - the southern escarpment, the central ridge, and the northern ridge - whilst individual barrows and groups may also be found on lower lying ground and hillslopes. Those which occupy prominent locations form a major visual element in the modern landscape. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Bell barrows differ from bowl barrows because they have a level berm around the edge of the mound giving them a bell shaped profile. They are often found in cemeteries associated with bowl barrows.
Despite some partial early excavations and stone robbing the seven bowl barrows and one bell barrow, known as ‘Five Barrows’ which form part of a larger round barrow cemetery survive well and will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to their construction, funerary and ritual practices, longevity and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 November 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument, which falls into eight separate areas of protection, includes seven bowl barrows and one bell barrow situated on a prominent hill which forms the watershed between the River Bray and Kinsford Water in an area known as Western Common. These bowl barrows form part of a large round barrow cemetery along the length of the ridge which is subdivided into several separate schedulings. The bowl barrows survive as circular mounds which vary in diameter from 14m up to 34m and in height from 0.7m to 3.3m. One has a triangulation pillar at the summit several have central depressions, the result of early partial excavations or stone robbing. One has a circular trench towards the edge of its mound which may have been caused by the robbing of an original stone kerb. The bell barrow survives as a circular mound which measures 35m in diameter and up to 2.5m high. The surrounding quarry ditches from which material to construct the mounds was derived are preserved as buried features.
A further bowl barrow to the west is not included in the scheduling because it has not been formally assessed.