Kit Barrows Cairns


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020828

Date first listed: 10-Dec-1929

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Oct-2002


Ordnance survey map of Kit Barrows Cairns
© 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.

County: Somerset

District: West Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Cutcombe

County: Somerset

District: West Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Luccombe

County: Somerset

District: West Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Wootton Courtenay

National Park: EXMOOR

National Grid Reference: SS 90033 42010, SS 90055 42059


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 other two areas, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, survey work 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 including stone settings, stone alignments, standing stones, and burial mounds (barrows or cairns). Round cairns are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500BC. They were constructed as rubble mounds 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 barrows or cairns, varying in diameter from 2m to 35m, have been recorded on Exmoor, with many of these 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. Individual cairns 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 longevity as a monument type can provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite the mounds having been disturbed in antiquity, Kit Barrows Cairns survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological deposits and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The cairns form a visual element in the open moorland being located near a well-used footpath across Exmoor which passes close to the prominent and well-known Dunkery Beacon.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes two prehistoric cairns known as Kit Barrows Cairns, located in open moorland on the wide summit of Dunkery Hill. The cairns, which are aligned NNE-SSW are situated on a broad spur which extends to the east of Dunkery Beacon. The centre of each cairn mound has been robbed in antiquity but they survive as near-circular stone banks which enclose a central area of random low stone boulders. The bank of the northernmost cairn is 0.5m high and 24m in diameter and has a depression to the south, which may be a quarry from which stone material was extracted for the construction of the cairn mound. The bank of the southernnmost cairn is 0.6m in height and 12.5m in diameter; it also has a quarry immediately to the south. A recent stone heap has been placed within the bank on the south side of this cairn.

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: 35581

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 30
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 30
SS 94 SW 1, National Monuments Record,

End of official listing