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Westbury Beacon, a bell barrow 720m west of Brimble Pit Pool

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Westbury Beacon, a bell barrow 720m west of Brimble Pit Pool

List entry Number: 1006177

Location

The bell barrow is centred on NGR ST 50049 50748 to the north of Westbury-sub-Mendip.

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Mendip

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Westbury

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 16-Feb-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Aug-2013

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM - OCN

UID: SO 263

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

The earthwork and buried remains of a bell barrow known as Westbury Beacon situated approximately 720m west of Brimble Pit Pool. It is one of a group of three barrows.

Reasons for Designation

The bell barrow known as Westbury Beacon is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

Rarity: as a bell barrow it is a rare site type since approximately only 350 examples are known nationally; Diversity: its probable re-use as a beacon enhances its interest and reflects the continuing prominence of this area during the medieval or post-medieval period; Potential: it will contribute to our understanding of the social organisation and burial practices of the country's Bronze Age population.

History

The main period of round barrow construction occurred in the Early Bronze Age between about 2200-1500 BC (a period when cremation succeeded inhumation as the primary burial rite), although Neolithic examples are known from as early as 3000 BC. They were constructed as earthen mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus of burials in later periods. Bell barrows are the most visually impressive form of round barrow, with most examples belonging to the period 1500-1100 BC. They were constructed as single or multiple mounds covering burials, often in pits, and surrounded by an enclosure ditch. Burials within bell barrows are frequently accompanied by weapons, personal ornaments and pottery and appear to be those of aristocratic individuals, usually men.

The bell barrow known locally as Westbury Beacon (ST 50048 50747) is situated on the summit of a prominent ridge overlooking a steep slope with the settlement of Rodney Stoke at its foot. In the late C18 the Rev. John Skinner (c1790) produced an illustration of the barrow and recorded that a number of bronze spear heads and other implements had been recovered from a stone-lined cist within the mound. E K Tratman (1923-5) noted that the barrow 'has been much disturbed, leaving a crater-like depression on the top', while Grinsell (1939) recorded that the summit of the mound had been hollowed out ' for the purpose of piling up the wood for the Beacon'. Barrow mounds were sometimes re-used as platforms for fire beacons which formed part of widespread signalling systems during the medieval or early post-medieval periods. Certainly place name evidence suggests that the barrow was probably used as a beacon mound in common with many barrows in the Mendip Hills. The first edition OS map also shows a trig point on the barrow; this must have been re-located at some point as it is now situated some 30m to the north-west adjacent to a field wall.

Details

Principal elements The bell barrow, known locally as Westbury Beacon, dates from the Early to Middle Bronze Age and is prominently situated on an eminence on the lip of a south-facing Mendip escarpment

Description It includes a roughly circular mound that stands up to 3m high and is 28m in diameter, with a berm up to 1.8m wide which is most clearly evident around the eastern side. An irregular quarry ditch that measures approximately 5m wide surrounds the mound and is most evident on the south and north-eastern sides; it has been partially infilled over time but will survive as a buried feature. There is a large depression, 9.4m wide and 1.5m deep, dug into the centre of the mound, probably the result of antiquarian excavations in the late C18.

Extent of scheduling The scheduling boundary around the bell barrow includes a 2m margin of support and protection for the monument.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Grinsell, L, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 115, (1971), 121 and 126
Websites
Fieldwork, accessed from http://www.ubss.org.uk/resources/proceedings/vol2/UBSS_Proc_2_3_274-297.pdf
Other
Boundary Stone, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset. Excavation Report, Somerset PRN 31076 by Westbury Society, September 2011,

National Grid Reference: ST5004950748

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1006177 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 16-Dec-2017 at 11:00:07.

End of official listing