MDE1058 - Rectangular earthwork and Bronze Age barrow on Challacombe Common (Monument)


A small rectangular earthwork is possibly a post-medieval building or a pillow mound. Nearby is the low mound of a Bronze Age barrow, approximately 22 metres in diameter.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 6804 4292 and SS 6808 4291) Tumuli (NR) [1] SS 6804 4292: A mound 12 paces in diameter and 1 1/2 feet high with a hollow in its centre. It has been ploughed into a rounded square shape. SS 6808 4291: A barrow 25 paces in diameter and 3 feet high. Both visited April 1949. [2] (SS 6804 4292) I think that this is most unlikely to be a round barrow as described by Grinsell. It is a little rectangular ditched and embanked enclosure, 30 feet by 24 feet, flat in the centre, with an entrance gap on the south side. The ditch is continuous the whole way round. I have no idea what it is. [3] SS 6808 4291 A round barrow approximately 23.0 metres in diameter and 0.6 metres high. SS 6804 4292 The rectangular feature is as described by Lady Fox, with turf banks 4.0 metres wide and 0.3 metres high; the perimeter ditch being 0.2 metres deep. Probably a small hut or house, with turf rather than stone walls, of uncertain age. Surveyed at 1:2500. [4] 1. A small rectangular earthwork centred at SS 6804 4292. The feature comprises a bank with slight external ditch, and measures 7.5 metres by 5.3 metres (bank centre to bank centre) with an entrance on the southern side. It is defined by compact stoney walls. An outer ditch 0.3 metres deep is continuous around the whole of the feature. A simple gap, 1.4 metres wide, marks the entrance. It seems likely that the feature is a former building, but its date and precise function are unclear. 2. A low circular barrow is centred at SS 6808 4291. It measures 22.2 metres north to south by 25 metres and is turf-covered and tussocky with patches of rushes in places. It has a summit diameter of roughly 17.5 metres. There is no clear evidence of excavation, but a scarp runs north-north-east to south-south-west across the summit of the mound dividing it into two, the western half being 0.3m higher. This may represent a former excavation trench and/or the spoil heap beside one. Around the mound are traces of a very slight ditch. This is hardly identifiable as a scarp, but survives more as a marshy, wet ring around the mound. [5] The rectangular enclosure can be seen on aerial photographs and measures 12 metres long by 9 metres wide. No apparent entranceway is visible. The feature is depicted on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map. It resembles a small building, or possibly a pillow mound, but its precise date and function is not clear. A small circular mound is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork to the northwest of Challacombe Common and is most likely a Bronze Age round barrow. It measures approximately 25 metres in diameter and 0.6 metres high. There is some evidence of excavation in the form of a scarp running north-north-east to south-south-west across the summit, dividing it in two with the western half measuring some 0.3 metres higher than the east [5]. The barrow was mentioned by Grinsell in his article "The Barrows of North Devon" [2] as was the small rectangular enclosure nearby. It seems likely that later authorities confused the two features, resulting in them both being recorded under one record. [6-8] One of five barrows and an enclosure on Challacombe Common: The barrow is flat topped with centre hole. There is a field ditch on the north side which has been cut through the edge. Peaty soil and very wet. The rectangular enclosure has a flat centre with a bank surround and there is an entrance on the south side. The ditch is continuous. This monument is not a barrow. [9] The enclosure is very clear on the 1947 aerial photographer but doubtful on the 1977 photograph. [10] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave both elements of the site a survival score of 0. [14] The site was surveyed in March 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. Both elements were given a survival score of 0. [15] The earthwork and barrow were subject to geophysical survey as part of a wider study of a group of monuments on Challacombe Common in June 2015. This suggested that the earthwork has a structural perimeter and is not likely to have been a sterile monument, but instead has seen anthropogenic activity. The barrow is somewhat denuded and does not appear to have a ring cairn within it, although it is possible that a segmented ditch like feature is present. A further platform to the northeast of the survey area produced further magnetic anomolies, which may relate to livestock management. [16] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [17,18] The earthwork and tumuli are depicted and labelled on the 2021 MasterMap data. [19]

Sources/Archives (19)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1963. 6 Inch Map: 1963.
  • <2> Serial: Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society vol 1 (1929/32) - vol 24 (1966) . Volume 28 (1970), p114.
  • <3> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Letter (Lady Fox, 2 May 1972).
  • <4> Unpublished document: BUCKLEY, MHB. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 16 August 1972.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 23 June 1993.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/2549 3108-09 (27 Mar 1948).
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1889.
  • <8> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 64 SE. MD002181.
  • <9> Report: Department of Environment. 1972. List of Ancient Monuments.
  • <10> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS6842c.
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK 1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 3086. 3090 (April 1947).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. MAM/13/122 (May 1977).
  • <13> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. SS64SE16. Plan.
  • <14> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <15> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <16> Report: Adcock, J.. 2015. Geophysical Survey Report G1515: Challacombe Common, Exmoor National Park.
  • <17> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34715, Extant 9 November 2021.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1469359, Extant 9 November 2021.
  • <19>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2021. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped features: #40449 Earthwork, ; #40450 Barrow, ]

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64SE/44
  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64SE/47
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 2659
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 2662
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20163
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20166
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2138
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO28
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE149
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE16
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1469359
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34715



Grid reference Centred SS 680 429 (61m by 37m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS64SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Nov 9 2021 3:12PM


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