Scheduled Monument: Alderman's Barrow at N of Almsworthy Common
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
20 December 1934
Date last amended
28 July 2015
Summary of Monument
Bowl barrow called Alderman’s Barrow.
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 mound, Alderman's Barrow survives well and will contain environmental evidence and archaeological deposits relating to the monument and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. The barrow is a highly visible element in an area of Exmoor which is rich in prehistoric monuments and is known to have formed an important boundary marker from at least the medieval period. It continues to do so as a parish boundary marker.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 28 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.
The monument includes Alderman's Barrow, a prehistoric bowl barrow situated on the north west side of Almsworthy Common immediately south of the minor Porlock to Exford road. The barrow is prominently located with views across open moorland. The barrow is formed by a flat-topped earth and stone mound 1.4m high with a maximum diameter of 24m. In keeping 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 visible at ground level but will survive as a buried feature approximately 2.5m wide. A pit 8m across and 0.7m deep which has been dug into the centre of the mound and a narrow trench to the south west which follows the base of the barrow scarp are probably the result of antiquarian activity. Alderman's Barrow has been used as a boundary marker since at least the 13th century and was known as Osmunesburgh in the Royal forest boundary perambulations between 1219 and 1301, and as Owlaman's Burrow from 1651. It is referred to as Alderman's Barrow from 1782. It continues to mark the boundary of Luccombe, Porlock, Exford and Exmoor parishes.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details
National Grid Reference: SS 83680 42326