MDE1430 - West Anstey Barrows (Monument)


Two Bronze Age round barrows, the western 24 metres in diameter and 1.9 metres high and the eastwards 29 metres in diameter and 2.1 metres high. Both have traces of ditches around them but the larger barrow has been mutilated.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A visit by the Ordnance Survey in July 1958 (SS 85436 29124) recorded that the barrow at SS 85492 29121 was not in good condition. The centre of the barrow had been partly dug out. [1] (SS 8549 2912 - 'A'; SS 854 291 - 'B') West Anstey Barrows (NR) [2] SS 8543 2911. West Anstey. 1. A heath covered bowl barrow, 26 paces in diameter and 6 feet high. Rainbird Clarke reported that a trench had been dug into it from the north side shortly before his visit in May 1938. SS 8549 2911. West Anstey. 2. A heath-covered bowl barrow, 33 paces in diameter and 8 1/2 feet high. An excavation scar extends from the south to the centre. Both barrows visited by Grinsell, 23rd May 1961. [3] A: A fine bowl, or possibly an overspread belt barrow, 1.8 metres high with no visible ditch. There are clear signs of an excavation trench from the north side to the centre. B: A probable bowl barrow 3.0 metres high with a surrounding ditch 0.4 metre deep. The top has been dug into and a large trench, dug down to ground level, extends to the centre from the south side. Both barrows are heather covered in area of moorland. [4] SS 8546 2912. Two barrows situated about 353 metres above sea level on the western end of the Vennford Moor ridge between East and West Anstey Commons. The rather flattish ridge top is mainly covered by rough grass with a scattering of heather, bracken and scrub. The barrows are Scheduled Monuments. A. SS 85436 29124. The smallest barrow, on the west, is evident as a heather-covered, flat-topped, predominantly earthen mound 24 metres in diameter and 1.9 metres in maximum height. There is a central hollow, about 4 metres in diameter, with the remains of an open excavation trench, 12.5 metres long, 2 metres wide and 0.7 metres deep, running off through the north-east quadrant. The spoil has been dumped around the hollow and along both sides of the trench, raising the barrow height by some 0.7 metres. There are slight traces of a ditch around the eastern side marked by a band of lusher growth of grass about 3m wide. B. SS 85492 29121. The larger barrow is similar though it is now in an appalling state of preservation being mutilated by hollows, excavation trenches and spoil heaps. Basically a rough grass-covered earthen mound it is now heavily obscured by scrub, gorse, hawthorn and bracken. It measures about 32 metres north to south by 29 metres and is about 2.1 metres high. There is a linear hollow, about 12 metres long, 3 metres wide and 1.4 metres deep, just east of centre. A crude excavation trench, 16 metres long, 3 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep, incorporating a hollow, runs through the southwest quadrant. The spoil has been dumped around the top of the barrow forming an uneven surface of smaller hollows and tumps and raising the original height of the barrow by some 0.7 metres. A surrounding ditch, 2 to 3 metres wide and 0.4 metres deep, is visible except around the southwest quadrant. It has an outer scarp up to 0.7 metres high. From the top of the spoil to the bottom of the ditch it is about 3.5m high.1:250 survey sketch available. [5-7] Despite often dense vegetation cover, both mounds can be clearly seen as earthworks on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards. The locations stated by the above authorities are correct, although their dimensions appear slightly different. The western monument has been transcribed at just over 20 metres diameter, the larger eastern mound approaching 27 metres diameter. [8,9] The eastern barrow has a circumferetial ditch enclosing the the mound. [10] (SS 85436 29124) The barrow has been dug into and now in very mutilated condition.There is a large hole down to about 0.6 metres above ground level with an opening on the south side. A tree, heather and gorse bushes are now growing in the hole. [14] (SS 85436 29124) The site is fairly clear of vegetation. The barrow is 22 metres in diameter and 1.5 metres high. There is a hollow in the top which is the result of excavation. (SS 85492 29121) The barrow appears to have been mutilted by excavation and has a disturbed profile. It is covered with thick vegetation, including gorse and bracken. [15] Clumsily excavated in 1818. Nothing of real importance found. [16] The site was visited as part of the Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009. The western barrow was given a survival score of 10 and the eastern barrow a score of 7. [18] The barrows were cleared of vegetation as part of the Monument Management Scheme for 2010-11. A follow up was undertaken as part of the 2011-12 scheme in which the monument was cleared of any re-growth. [19] A site visit was undertaken on 7th February 2013 by an ENPA archaeologist. Some evidence for gorse regrowth and bracken was noted with some small trees (Rowan?) left on the eastern barrow. Monitoring photos taken. [20] The site was surveyed in June 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. The western barrow was given a survival score of 7 and the eastern one a score of 8. [21] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [22]

Sources/Archives (22)

  • <1> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. 13 July 1958.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1973. 1:10000, 1973. 1:10,000.
  • <3> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. P. 128.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1 13 April 1970.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 15 December 1995.
  • <6> Index: English Heritage. 1987. County List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Devon 20 County No:648.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1995. West Anstey barrows/ink survey . 1:250. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8529/3 (2113/1036). 20/04/1982.
  • <9> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 82 NE. MD002200.
  • <10> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. P. 58, 62, 145, 194.
  • <11> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS8529c.
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 12/025 (May 1977).
  • <13> Unpublished document: Weston, S.. 1982. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden visit.
  • <14> Index: Ministry of Works. 1968. List of Ancient Monuments.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Allden, A. 1979. Field Notes for Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology.
  • <16> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. J Milton, Partridge Arms Farm to T Greeves on 20 December 1978.
  • <17> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Devon. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 1.
  • <18> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <19> Report: Turner, J.. Monument Management Scheme: 2011-12.
  • <20> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Site visit, S Blaylock, 7 February 2013.
  • <21> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <22> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35641, Extant 25 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 1185
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 1186
  • Devon SMR: SS82NE/5
  • Devon SMR: SS82NE/6
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20085
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20086
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO117
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE3
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35641
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 648 A & B



Grid reference Centred SS 85467 29119 (90m by 38m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS82NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Jan 25 2022 4:34PM


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