Scheduled Monument: Group of four barrows and cairns known as 'Rowbarrows' including Great Rowbarrow and Little Rowbarrow
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
10 December 1929
Date last amended
23 July 2015
Summary of Monument
Platform cairn and three round cairns including Great Rowbarrow and Little Rowbarrow forming part of a round cairn cemetery.
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). Platform cairns are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials and dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC). They were constructed as low flat-topped mounds of stone rubble up to 40m in external diameter. Some examples have other features, including peripheral banks and internal mounds, constructed on this platform. A kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all three. Platform cairns occur as isolated monuments, in small groups, or in cairn cemeteries. In the latter instances they are normally found alongside cairns of other types. Although no precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that there are fewer than 250 known examples of this monument class nationally. They are a rare monument type exhibiting considerable variation in form.
Round cairn cemeteries are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500BC. Constructed as rubble mounds which covered single or multiple burials, they often also 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 a proportion of these forming round cairn cemeteries 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. 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. Despite partial early excavation and visitors re-arranging the stones, the platform cairn and round cairns including Great Rowbarrow and Little Rowbarrow forming part of a round cairn cemetery survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronologies, territorial significance, social organisation, ritual and funerary practices and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 23 July 2015. This 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.
This monument, which falls into four areas, includes a platform cairn and three round cairns forming part of a round cairn cemetery situated on Dunkery Ridge to the south west of the prominent hill called Dunkery Beacon. The westernmost platform cairn survives as a circular stony platform up to 20m in diameter and 0.3m high with a clearly defined peripheral bank up to 5.2m wide and approximately 0.6m high. There is a slight central depression on the platform. To the south east is a round cairn which survives as a roughly circular stony mound up to 16m in diameter and 1.4m high. To the north east Great Rowbarrow is a circular stony mound measuring up to 22m in diameter and 1.6m high and has been subject to some stone quarrying. The easternmost round cairn is Little Rowbarrow a circular stony mound measuring up to 19m in diameter and 1.4m high with a central depression.
Other cairns forming part of the cemetery survive in the vicinity. Some are scheduled separately whilst others are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details
National Grid Reference: SS 87417 41473, SS 87460 41465, SS 87545 41538, SS 87878 41561