Scheduled Monument: Round barrows and two standing stones near Withycombe Ridge Water
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
14 January 1970
Date last amended
10 November 2015
Summary of Monument
A kerbed cairn and two standing stones at Badgeworthy Lees, 2850m ESE of Dry Bridge.
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 burial mounds (`barrows'), stone settings, stone alignments, and standing stones.
Round cairns are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500BC. They were constructed as rubble mounds 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 barrows or cairns, varying in diameter from 2m to 35m, have been recorded on Exmoor, with many of these 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. Individual cairns 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 longevity as a monument type can provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities.
Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments, with dates ranging from the Late Neolithic period to the end of the Bronze Age (c.2500-700 BC) for the few excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs, ranging from under 1m high to over 3m high where still erect. They are often conspicuously sited and close to prehistoric burial monuments such as small cairns. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves, or meeting points, but their accompanying features show they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual monument classes of their period.
Despite early excavation or robbing of the cairn the kerbed cairn and two standing stones at Badgeworthy Lees, 2850m ESE of Dry Bridge, survive well and are an interesting group of different monument classes. They lie between two valleys on a smaller ridge and clearly this will reflect the territorial and ritual significance of these features. They will also contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, use, relative chronology and their landscape context through time.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 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 three separate areas of protection, includes a kerbed cairn and two standing stones situated close to the summit of a hill which forms the watershed between the Withycombe Ridge Water and the Hoccombe Combe. The kerbed cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring up to 7m in diameter and 0.6m high. Around the outer edge is a partially visible kerb of stones which measures up to 0.6m high. The summit of the mound has a hollow indicative of early partial excavation or robbing. To the west is a standing stone which survives as an upright tapering monolith measuring 0.5m wide, 0.2m thick and 0.7m high. A flat slab lies against the standing stone to the south east. To the east of the cairn is the second standing stone. It survives as an upright, pointed monolith measuring 0.6m wide, 0.3m thick and 0.7m high.
Other archaeological remains in the immediate vicinity are scheduled separately.
PastScape Monument Nos:-35275, 890273 and 890315
National Grid Reference: SS 78573 44648, SS 78681 44646, SS 78778 44665