MDE1064 - Undated circular earthwork on Parracombe Common (Monument)


A large circular earthwork on Parracombe Common. It consists of a bank 40 metres in diameter with an internal ditch, and has been variously interpreted as a henge or a disc barrow.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 6918 4489) Earthwork (NR) [1] SS 6918 4489. Probably a disc barrow with only slight traces of central mound. Diameter 47 paces, height 1 foot. Bank and inner ditch each about 13 1/2 feet wide; 1 foot from bottom of external ditch to top of bank. Visited 1961 and 1969. [2] The small earthwork on Parracombe Common is probably a disc barrow or possibly a 'henge'. [3] Bisected by a hedge, only the northeast half of the earthwork survives and this is in arable land. The measurements are as given by Grinsell, but no central mound is discernible, or any causeway across the surviving part of the ditch. Insufficient evidence available to classify as a henge or a disc barrow. Surveyed at 1:2500. [4] SS 692 449 Class 1 Henge Monument, Parracombe Common. A circular earthwork with an internal ditch which has been almost obliterated by ploughing. It has an overall diameter of 130 feet and is bisected by a hedge bank to the northeast of which the enclosure bank still survives to a height of 1 foot. It is not possible to establish the number of entrances with any degree of certainty but it seems likely that this is a Class 1 Henge. [5] The earthwork remains of a circular enclosure, of which only half is now visible, are centred at SS 6917 4489. It lies at 350 metres above sea level on the crest of east-south-east facing slopes near the head of an un-named valley, giving it extensive views eastwards. In close proximity are a number of other settlement and ceremonial sited (see MDE1061, MDE1062, MDE1063, MDE1067, MDE10874, MDE10888). The enclosure lies within two pasture fields; it is bisected by a north-west to south-east hedge bank. The field to the southwest has been more intensively managed and few intelligible remains of the enclosure survive [8]. The field to the north-east, however, contains the well preserved remains of half of the feature, despite the fact that slight narrow ridge and furrow if visible encroaching on it. In form the enclosure, measuring 40.4 metres in diameter, consists of a broad external bank some 3.4 metres wide and 0.4 metres high with an internal ditch 0.3 metres deep. The bank and ditch have an overall width of 7.3 metres. No trace of an entrance is visible. This earthwork has been variously classified as a disc barrow [2], a henge [3] and a class 1 henge [5], although too much of the monument has been either destroyed or obscured to allow such confident interpretations on the field evidence alone. [7-9] Included in a gazetteer as a possible one entrance henge. [10] The monument is clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in 1952 as a roughly circular enclosure bisected by a field boundary. Measurements are as given above. The interior of the monument appears slightly raised, resembling a disc or saucer barrow. No evidence for an entranceway is apparent, and the interior ditch is only visible in the north-east field. The entranceway may have been obscured by the field boundary, but this seems unlikely. The lack of an entranceway would be more consistent with interpretation as a disc or saucer barrow than a henge. On photographs taken in 1972, the area has been extensively ploughed and no trace of the monument is visible. [11-13] Parracombe Common Henge Monument. A small earth henge with the bank outside the ditch. The circle is bisected by a modern hedgebank, and ploughing has made impossible the identification of the entrance(s). Both halves lie in fields of pasture ploughed every few years. Southwest half has been ploughed almost level, but northeast of the hedgebank the henge is much better preserved, its bank being about 0.3 meters above the ditch. The farmer has agreed not to plough it again. This monument, described as "Camp" on various Ordnance Survey maps, was only identified as a henge in 1960 and has not yet been published. [14] Well preserved on the northeast side of the modern hedgebank, but no surface trace on the southwest side. [15] This earthwork is identified as a Camp by wall, whose plan shows a single entrance on the south side. Plan. [16] McDonnell sees further low earthworks to the east including possible hut circle. Fair to doubtful on 1977 aerial photograph, fair on 1947 aerial photograph. Number SS6944E. [17] Seen from South Common. Field within which the southwest part of this site lies has been ploughed & reseeded. The southwest part of the site has been partially encroached upon by this improvement. Subsequent enquiries showed that the Field Monument Warden had visited the farm in 1981 prior to ploughing to advise on protective measures. Northeast part of site in other field appears from a distance to have remained unchanged. [18] 'Camp' marked on 1938 map. [22] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 3. [26] This site was subject to geophysical survey in 2014. This survey suggested that potential areas of surviving archaeological deposits remain despite previous ploughing . [27] The site was surveyed in March 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 3. [28] The bank forming the northern half of the enclosure described above in (1-13) is visible as a low earthwork on EH Rreconnaissance aerial photographs of 2010. [29] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [30]

Sources/Archives (30)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1963. 6 Inch Map: 1963.
  • <2> Article in serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. p 127.
  • <3> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. P. 55.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 15 September 1972.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Lady A Fox.
  • <6> Article in serial: Wainwright, G. J.. 1969. A Review of Henge Monuments in the Light of Recent Research. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 35. P. 126.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 September 1993.
  • <8> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R.. 1993. Lynton and Lynmouth, alleged henge at SS 64 SE 22/ink survey. 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <9> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I. & Wilson-North, R.. 1993. South Common, SS 64 SE 20, 21, 22, 25, 46, 47, 54/ink survey . 1:2500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <10> Article in monograph: A F Harding ; with G E Lee. 1987. Henge monuments and related sites of Great Britain : air photographic evidence and catalogue 175 . P. 121: Site 047.
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 3046-47. 08/11/1952.
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/72314 288-89. 16/08/1972.
  • <13> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 64 SE. MD002181.
  • <14> Index: Ancient Monuments. 1968. Parracombe Common Henge Monument. The Schedule of Monuments.
  • <15> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. T Greeves, A4 sheet, 1980.
  • <16> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Devon. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 1. P. 608.
  • <17> Report: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey : Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset Aerial Photograph Survey. Gaz No SS7332A, SS7432A..
  • <18> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. SC Timms, Site visit and worksheet, 1982.
  • <19> Report: Department of Environment. 1979. Field Monument Warden Visit. Site visit.
  • <20> Report: Department of Environment. 1980. Field Monument Warden Visit. Site visit.
  • <21> Report: Weston, S.. 1982. Field Monument Warden Visit. Site visit.
  • <22> Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1938. 6NE. Revision of 1903 with additions in 1938. Provisional Edition. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map.
  • <23> Aerial photograph: MAM. 1977. 13/067. Exmoor National Park.
  • <24> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK 1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 3086. 4086.
  • <25> Photograph: 1983. Slide.
  • <26> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <27> Report: Mitcham, Doug. 2014. Geophysical surveys at East Pinford, Swap Hill and Parracombe Common in Exmoor National Park. 13-19.
  • <28> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <29> Aerial photograph: English Heritage. 2010. Oblique aerial photographs of selected sites across Exmoor National Park. 26644_032-033 (13 April 2010).
  • <30> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34733, Updated 10 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64SE9
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 2071
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20131
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO34
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE 22
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34733
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): DV 706



Grid reference Centred SS 6917 4488 (54m by 54m)
Map sheet SS64SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Nov 10 2021 11:43AM


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