Long barrow, round barrow and cairn on Pen Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Long barrow, round barrow and cairn on Pen Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mendip (District Authority)
St. Cuthbert Out
National Grid Reference:
ST 56348 48679, ST 56442 48779

Reasons for Designation

Long barrows were constructed as earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long barrows appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary monument preceding the barrow and, consequently, it is probable that long barrows acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long barrows and long cairns, their counterparts in the uplands, are recorded nationally. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as earthworks, and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all long barrows are considered to be nationally important.

Long barrows are the earliest visible funerary monuments in the country and are relatively rare in this region. Despite a little erosion on its south side, the long barrow on Pen Hill is a good example of its class and acts as a focus for the later round barrow and cairn. Round barrows and cairns are a similar class of funerary monument which normally covered a single or a multiple burial and date from the Late Neolithic period through to the Late Bronze Age. Round barrows are constructed as earthen mounds, usually with an enclosing ditch. Cairns are constructed as stone or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched. All three burial mounds on Pen Hill survive well and will contain archaeological deposits and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes a Neolithic long barrow, a round barrow and a round cairn. They are located on the south and west-facing slope of Pen Hill, which is situated at the eastern edge of the Mendip Hills. The round barrow and the cairn are believed to date from the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age period. The long barrow is aligned from east to west and is located below the crest of the hill. It is 44m in length, has an average width of 13m, and has a maximum height of approximately 2m on the south, downslope side. The barrow is flanked by side ditches which widen towards the south west. Side ditches, from which material was quarried for the construction of the mound, often become infilled over the millennia but they will survive as buried features. In this case, they are approximately 3m wide on either side of the barrow mound; the ditch to the north of the mound was visible at least as recently as 1971. A bowl shaped round barrow is located 3m from the eastern end of the long barrow; the barrow mound is 14m in diameter and approximately 1.5m in height. It is believed to be encircled by an associated quarry ditch of about 2m in width from which material would have been extracted for the construction of the mound. The cairn is located 140m to the north east of the long barrow. The cairn is reported in a mid-19th century excavation to have contained a large deposit of charred wood and ashes overlain by fine earth and capped by pieces of red sandstone. It is 10m in diameter and approximately 1m high and has an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar set into its surface. This is included in the scheduling. The television mast anchorage points together with all fencing and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Grinsell, L, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 115, (1971), 86
Grinsell, L, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 115, (1971), 116
Grinsell, L, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 115, (1971), 116


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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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