Scheduled Monument: Four round barrows on Muxworthy Ridge
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
04 August 1961
Date last amended
05 November 2015
Summary of Monument
Four bowl barrows 530m south of Setta Barrow forming part of a round barrow cemetery on Muxworthy Ridge.
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.
Despite partial early excavation or stone robbing the four bowl barrows 530m south of Setta Barrow forming part of a round barrow cemetery on Muxworthy Ridge survive well and will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, funerary and ritual practices, longevity and landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 November 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument, which falls into four separate areas of protection, includes four bowl barrows forming part of a round barrow cemetery situated on an extremely prominent ridge forming the watershed between the Rivers Bray and Barle. The barrows survive as circular mounds which vary in diameter from 16m up to 28m and in height between 0.7m to 1m. The surrounding quarry ditches from which material to construct the mounds was derived survive as buried features, except on the easternmost barrow where a slight ditch measuring up to 1m wide and 0.4m deep is visible. This barrow also has the slight remains of a stone built retaining kerb. Two of the barrows have 0.3m deep slit trenches, the result of either early partial excavation or stone robbing when the nearby road was built.
Further round barrows survive within the vicinity of the monument, some are scheduled, but others are not currently protected and these are not included within the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.
PastScape Monument No:-35037
National Grid Reference: SS 72528 37599, SS 72539 37566, SS 72566 37552, SS 72739 37556