Bowl barrow and round cairn on Withypool Hill, 850m and 820m east of Portford Bridge


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


Ordnance survey map of Bowl barrow and round cairn on Withypool Hill, 850m and 820m east of Portford Bridge
© 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)
Withypool and Hawkridge
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 83983 34411, SS 84018 34454

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 and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite antiquarian disturbance to the bowl barrow's mound, the bowl barrow and cairn located on Withypool Hill, 850m and 820m east of Portford Bridge, survive comparatively well. They will contain environmental evidence and archaeological deposits relating both to the monument and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. In addition, they may be associated with a nearby prehistoric stone circle of which there are only two examples known on Exmoor.


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes a bowl barrow and a round cairn, both of prehistoric date, located on high open moorland on a south-west facing slope of Withypool Hill. The bowl barrow occupies a prominent position on the summit of the hill. Its original profile has been modified by antiquarian activity and it survives as a circular earth and stone mound which has several hollows dug into its broad summit. The diameter of the mound is 20.5m and it is approximately 1.1m high. In common with other bowl barrows in the region, the mound would have been surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried for its construction. This ditch is no longer clearly visible at ground level but will survive as a buried feature approximately 2m wide. The round cairn which is located 50m south west of the bowl barrow, occupies a gentle slope below the crest of the hill. It is formed by a stone mound 3.5m in diameter and 0.4m high. The bowl barrow and round cairn are sited close to a prehistoric stone circle, the subject of a separate scheduling, which may have acted as a focus for their location.

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, , Vol. 113, (1969), 42
SS 83 SW 2, National Monuments Record,
SS 83 SW 53, 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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