MDE12830 - Mortuary enclosure east of the Chapman Barrows (Monument)

Summary

Embanked quadrilateral enclosure with slight ditch outside the low surrounding bank, once considered to be the result of former turf cuttings and natural tumps. Now thought to be a mortuary enclosure, though it could also be a longhouse.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

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. [1] The enclosure earthworks and ditch are clearly visible after swaling. [2] 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. [3] 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 platfordm, 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. [4, 11] 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. [5] 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. [6] Its location between Chapman Barrows and Longstone support its suggested role as a mortuary enclosure in a highly significant burial and ritual landscape. [7] 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. [8] A detailed measured earthwork survey was undertaken of this site by the Longstone Landscapes group, with support from the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme. [9] 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. [10]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 20/02/1979. Letter and Plan.
  • <2> Archive: Devon County Council. Paperwork held by Devon HER / SMR. Site visit, H Eardley-Wilmot, 15 June 1982.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation.
  • <4> Technical drawing: Riley, H.. 2009. Enclosure on Challacombe Common, Earthwork Survey. 1:500.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. R Wilson-North and H Riley, 2009.
  • <6> Report: Pullen, B.. 2009. Rectangular Enclosure, Challacombe Common, North Devon, Exmoor National Park; Earth Resistance Survey Technical Report.
  • <7> Article in serial: Wilson-North, R.. 2011. From Barrows to Burnt Mounds. Exmoor Review. 52. 85-89. P.85-86, 88.
  • <8> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report. 41.
  • <9> Technical drawing: Longstone Landscapes Project. 2014. Mortuary enclosure survey, Challacombe Common. 1:200. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <10> Report: Mitcham, Doug. 2014. Geophysical surveys of a rectangular enclosure and stone setting on Challacombe Common, Exmoor National Park.
  • <11> Report: Riley, H.. 2016. Little Hangman and Challacombe Common, Exmoor National Park: Two possible earlier Neolithic enclosures on western Exmoor.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7037 4321 (44m by 30m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS74SW
Civil Parish CHALLACOMBE, NORTH DEVON, DEVON

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • 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

Oct 31 2016 12:08PM

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