MDE12830 - Mortuary enclosure east of the Chapman Barrows (Monument)
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Type and Period (4)
- (Former Type) PEAT CUTTING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD (Possible))
- (Alternate Type) ENCLOSURE? (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD (Possible))
- (Alternate Type) MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2201 BC (Possible))
- (Alternate Type) LONGHOUSE? (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD (Possible))
At SS7035 4323 there is an embanked quadrilateral enclosure, 25 metres long by 10 metres, with a slight ditch outside the low surrounding bank. All corners are rounded. There is a hummock at the southwest corner, but this might be a big anthill.  The enclosure earthworks and ditch are clearly visible after swaling.  SS703 432. This is a misinterpretation of an area of old turf cuttings and natural tumps. The turfs were probably cut to top the enclosure wall running to the north. No survey action.  In January 2009 the rectangular enclosure identified by Eardley-Wilmot [1,2] was reconsidered and surveyed at 1:500 by English Heritage's Exeter Archaeological Survey and Investigation. The earthworks describe a roughly rectangular enclosure with rounded corners, measuring 45 metres long by 20 metres wide overall and orientated northwest to southeast. It comprises a level internal area measuring 30 metres by 6 metres, surrounded on at least three sides by a stony turf covered bank approximately 0.3 to 0.5 metres high and 3 to 4 metres wide; the internal edge of the bank is not clear at the southeast end, raising the possibility that the feature is open ended. Traces of a 4 to 5 metres wide external ditch are visible along parts of the southwest bank and around the northwest end. The enclosure is centred at SS 7036 4321. [4,5] This site was subjected to survey by the RCHME in 2009. It was suggested it may represent the remains of a turf stack or peat drying platform, or a medieval or post-medieval stock enclosure associated with Radworthy Farm, but its shape and position were thought to suggest a Neolithic mortuary enclosure. [5, 12] This feature is not likely to be peat cutting, but comparison to other sites further afield raises the possibility that it is a Neolithic mortuary enclosure.  A geophysical investigation of the rectilinear earthworks show high resistance anomalies along much of the earthwork banks, and some shadowing along the line of the possible external ditch. The geophysical survey results appear to agree with the earthwork survey, which depicts the southeast end of the enclosure as open ended with a slight scarp or terrace completing the rectangular form. The enclosure has been compared with mortuary enclosures, and the geophysical survey does reveal a similar form, but the size and length of the enclosure's bank also correlates with the excavated ground plans of some large longhouses. The peat cutting interpretation can be rejected as the squared edges have been built up rather than cut in, and appear to be of stone construction.  Its location between Chapman Barrows and Longstone support its suggested role as a mortuary enclosure in a highly significant burial and ritual landscape.  Given its size, its location on the edge of an area of disused turf pits and its similarity to known turf stacks, it remains a possibility that this enclosure could represent the remains of a turf stack.  A detailed measured earthwork survey was undertaken of this site by the Longstone Landscapes group, with support from the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme.  Geophysical survey results from 2014 suggest that the enclosure may have had stone facing or orthostats around some areas of the outer edge of the bank. The combined magnetometry and resistivity results strongly suggest there are features inside the enclosure, which are potentially archaeological in origin. The results suggest that the earthwork is unlikely to be the result of peat cutting. 
- <1> SEM7545 Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 20/02/1979. Letter and Plan.
- <2> SEM7959 Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Site visit, H Eardley-Wilmot, 15 June 1982.
- <3> SMO7324 Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 9 March 1995.
- <4> SMO7322 Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. English Heritage Field Investigation, 12 January 2009.
- <5> SEM7547 Technical drawing: Riley, H.. 2009. Enclosure on Challacombe Common, Earthwork Survey. 1:500.
- <6> SMO5308 Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R Wilson-North and H Riley, 2009.
- <7> SEM7267 Report: Pullen, B.. 2009. Rectangular Enclosure, Challacombe Common, North Devon, Exmoor National Park; Earth Resistance Survey Technical Report.
- <8> SEM7548 Article in serial: Wilson-North, R.. 2011. From Barrows to Burnt Mounds. Exmoor Review. 52. 85-89. P.85-86, 88.
- <9> SEM8135 Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report. 41.
- <10> SEM8266 Technical drawing: Longstone Landscapes Project. 2014. Mortuary enclosure survey, Challacombe Common. 1:200. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
- <11> SEM8269 Report: Mitcham, Doug. 2014. Geophysical surveys of a rectangular enclosure and stone setting on Challacombe Common, Exmoor National Park.
- <12> SEM8317 Report: Riley, H.. 2016. Little Hangman and Challacombe Common, Exmoor National Park: Two possible earlier Neolithic enclosures on western Exmoor.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 7037 4321 (44m by 30m) (Estimated from sources)|
|Civil Parish||CHALLACOMBE, NORTH DEVON, DEVON|
Related Monuments/Buildings (0)
Related Events/Activities (5)
- Event - Survey: 2009: RS - Rectangular Enclosure, Challacombe Common (EEM14527)
- Event - Survey: 2009: TS - Rectangular enclosure, Challacombe (EEM14551)
- Event - Survey: 2013: WS - Exmoor turf cutting (EEM14519)
- Event - Survey: 2014: MS, RS - Quincunx and Mortuary Enclosure, Challacombe Common (EEM14530)
- Event - Survey: MS - Mortuary Enclosure, Challacombe Common (EEM14528)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1043639 (Original Monarch entry: 1043639)
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 7353
- Devon SMR: SS74SW/23
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20192
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW100
- National Park: Exmoor
- Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1043639
Record last edited
Feb 14 2021 6:08PM
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