Scheduled Monument: Henge monument on Parracombe Common
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
10 March 1969
Date last amended
10 November 2015
Summary of Monument
A henge 760m south-west of Woolhanger Farm.
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'), standing stones, stone alignments and stone settings. Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval- shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of south-eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of identified Neolithic structures and in view of their comparative rarity, all henges are considered to be of national importance. Despite being bisected by a field boundary and the heights of the earthworks having been reduced by cultivation the henge 760m south west of Woolhanger Farm survives comparatively well for such a rare, fragile and ancient type of monument. It will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, use, ritual and social significance, and its overall landscape context as well as providing the links between the migrations of people, trade and ideas from centres such as Wessex where such classes of monument were more widespread.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 November 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 includes a henge situated on the lower northern slopes of Parracombe Common on a small ESE facing crest forming the head of the valley of a tributary to the Barbrook River. The henge survives as a level circular interior measuring up to 25.8m in diameter, surrounded by an approximately 3.9m wide and 0.3m deep partially buried ditch, enclosed by an outer bank of up to 3.4m wide and 0.5m high. The total diameter of the henge is approximately 40.4m. The northern part of the henge survives more clearly as an earthwork than the area to the south. The henge is bisected by a field boundary and any original entrance or entrances are no longer visible. This field boundary is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.
Further archaeological remains survive in the area and are the subject of separate schedulings.
PastScape Monument No:-34773
National Grid Reference: SS 69176 44886