Brightworthy Barrows on Withypool Common


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021264

Date first listed: 11-Jan-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Feb-2004


Ordnance survey map of Brightworthy Barrows on Withypool Common
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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: Withypool and Hawkridge

National Park: EXMOOR

National Grid Reference: SS 81740 35095, SS 81828 35084


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 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 disturbance, the mounds of Brightworthy Barrows survive comparatively well and will contain environmental evidence and archaeological deposits relating both to the monument and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. The barrows form a visible element in an area of Exmoor which is rich in prehistoric monuments.


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


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes two bowl barrows located in a prominent position on the broad plateau of Withypool Common. The barrows occupy an area of level ground which falls steeply away to the north, overlooking the Barle Valley and beyond, and eastwards, to Knighton Combe and Withypool Hill. The barrows are the two surviving members of a linear group of three known collectively as Brightworthy Barrows. The original profiles of both barrows have been modified in antiquity, and in the modern era when stone was removed for road metalling. The easternmost barrow survives as a near circular earth and stone rim about 0.5m high with an average width of 6m. The surface of the rim is uneven and has been hollowed in places. An irregularly shaped mound of the same material lies within the rim, offset slightly to the north west side and has a maximum diameter of 12.5m and is 1.4m high. The rim is surrounded by an outer ditch from which material was quarried for the mound's construction, this is visible on the south eastern side as a shallow depression 1.7m wide and 0.2m deep. The remaining circuit of the ditch survies as a buried feature which can be seen on aerial photographs. The overall diameter of the bowl barrow is 27.4m. An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar surmounts the top of the mound. The second bowl barrow lies 90m to the west and survives as a near circular rim bank 4.2m wide, up to 0.75m high and with a maximum overall diameter of 19m. The bank encloses an uneven slightly raised area of ground which represents the remains of the bowl barrow mound. In common with the bowl barrow located to the east, the mound would have been surrounded by a quarry ditch which is not visible at ground level but will survive as a buried feature aproximately 1.5m wide.

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: 35973

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 42
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 42
SS 83 SW 3, National Monuments Record,
SS 83 SW 3, National Monuments Record,

End of official listing