Four round cairns on Dunkery Hill 400m south east of Joaney How Cairn


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Four round cairns on Dunkery Hill 400m south east of Joaney How Cairn
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. 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.

West Somerset (District Authority)
Wootton Courtenay
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 91052 42642, SS 91253 42587, SS 91296 42500, SS 91341 42732

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 some surface disturbance to the mounds of two of the four round cairns located on Dunkery Hill 400m south east of Joaney How Cairn, they survive comparatively well both individually and as a group and will contain archaeological deposits and environmental evidence relating both to the monument and the wider landscape in which the cairns were constructed. In addition, they form significant satellite cairns associated with a major round cairn cemetery which includes the prominent Joaney How and Robin How cairns.


The monument, which lies in four separate areas of protection, includes four prehistoric round cairns located in open moorland on the lower south eastern slopes of Dunkery Hill situated at the eastern end of Dunkery Ridge. The four round cairns are loosely grouped and form outlying members of a major round cairn cemetery, the centre of which is located some 500m upslope to the north west, on the summit of the hill and forms the subject of a separate scheduling. Two of the cairns are formed by circular stoney mounds 1m high surrounded by outer rims visible as low banks. The most southerly of these two has a diameter of 17m and the other, which forms the north easternmost of the group of four, is 18m in diameter and has a sub-circular depression in the centre of the mound. The two smaller cairns which make up the group, forming the westernmost and the southernmost of the four, are visible as earth and stone mounds, 7.4m in diameter and 0.6m in height, and 8.4m in diameter and 0.7m in height respectively.

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 V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 43
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 43
SS 94 SW 78, National Monuments Record,
SS 94 SW 79, National Monuments Record,
SS 94 SW 80, National Monuments Record,
SS 94 SW 82, National Monuments Record,


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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