Old Barrow on Old Barrow Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021356

Date first listed: 01-Nov-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jun-2004


Ordnance survey map of Old Barrow on Old Barrow Down
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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 84085 32447


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 the mound of the barrow having been disturbed by what is believed to have been antiquarian activity, the bowl barrow known as Old Barrow survives comparatively well. It will contain environmental evidence and archaeological deposits relating to the monument and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. Additionally, Old Barrow has been a significant feature in the landscape ever since its construction as its place-name, which is probably of Saxon origin, suggests.


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


The monument includes Old Barrow, a bowl barrow located on the summit of Old Barrow Down. The barrow occupies a prominent and lofty position with extensive views in all directions including eastward across the valley of the River Barle. The barrow, which is of prehistoric date, is formed by a circular bowl-shaped mound of earth and stone with recorded dimensions in 1995 of 1.2m in height and 20.9m in diameter. The mound has been disturbed by two circular cuttings which have left depressions 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep. This disturbance may be the result of unrecorded antiquarian excavation in an attempt to define a kerb within the barrow mound; this type of activity has been noted elsewhere on Exmoor. In keeping with other barrows of similar construction in the region the mound will be surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. Although the ditch is no longer clearly visible at ground level it will survive as a buried feature up to 2m wide, giving the barrow an overall diameter of 24.9m.

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: 33076

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Smerset Archaeological and Nat.Hist Society' in Somerset Barrows Part 1, , Vol. 113, (1969), 42
RCHME Exmoor survey, R Wilson-North, RCHME Field Investigation, (1995)

End of official listing