MDE20203 - Central Bronze Age cairn at Holdstone Barrows (Monument)


Cairn B of a group of three, consisting of a low circular spread of stones some 19.8 metres north to south and 18.2 metres east to west and generally less than 0.5 metres high. It has been badly robbed.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

Holdstone Barrows, site of barrow "B". SS 6197 4769 These three tumuli have been totally destroyed and "B" could not be found as it has been completely razed and the stones scattered. [1] The site was visited in May 1961 by C Whybrow and LV Grinsell. SS 6198 4770. The barrow's diameter was measured at twenty paces and its height as one foot. Three large stones were noted in truncated top by Wickinden in 1939. [2] Only very slight unsurveyable vestiges of these three barrows survive. [3] The mutilated remains of three summit cairns on Holdstone Down. The summit of Holdstone Down is now dominated by a completely modern cairn, over 2 metres in height; immediately south is an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar. The summit is easily accessible and forms an alternative route for the South West Coast Path, which means that it is a much visited site. The three cairns are all extant, but are all in a very disturbed and robbed state. Cairn B is centred at SS 6197 4770. It consists of a low sub-circular spread of stones some 19.8 metres north-south by 18.2 metres west-east and generally less than 0.5 metres high. The South West Coast Path crosses the centre of the cairn from west-east. The feature has been badly robbed and as a consequence has an irregular surface with a number of small hollows. An indistinct central hollow 3.5 metres square and 0.3 metres deep is probably the result of an excavation; the west-east path runs across it. Vegetation: denuded bare surface; turf and some low heather. Aspect: very open in all directions. These cairns form an important group on the extreme northwestern fringe of Exmoor. Their battered condition is largely the result of a number of agencies: antiquarian interest; the inclosure of Holdstone Down (MDE8959); military activity on the Down during World War 2 (MDE8963); robbing to construct the modern summit cairn. Nevertheless it seems likely that the cairns were never of any great height, and should probably be paralleled more with the three cairns on Trentishoe Common (MDE1037) than with groups like the Chapman Barrows (MDE1061). The summit of the Downs has a very thin soil cover, and cairns B and C have been overlooked or written off in the past mainly because they are stone monuments on a largely soil-free, rocky surface. Surveyed at 1/2500. [7] Monument record reviewed as part of NRHE to HER pilot project. [8,9] The feature is depicted and labelled on the 2021 MasterMap data. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Willy, S. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 30 June 1952.
  • <2> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. 116.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Fletcher, M.J.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F2, 14 August 1972.
  • <4> Report: The National Trust. 1984. Holdstone Down, Devon.
  • <5> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS6147f.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/106G/UK/1655.3181 (July 1946).
  • <7> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 15 June 1993.
  • <8> Archive: Historic England. 2016. NRHE to HER prototype website test. 34651.
  • <9> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34651, Extant 28 April 2021.
  • <10>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2021. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #33318 ]

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 12089
  • Devon SMR: SS64NW/11
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE1036
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 NW3
  • National Trust HER Record: MNA107756
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34651



Grid reference SS 6197 4769 (point) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS64NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

May 3 2021 10:12PM


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