MEM22803 - Dunkery Beacon (Monument)


Also known as Cutcombe 5, this monument takes the form of a large cairn with a flattened top, upon which a second (probably modern) cairn has been erected. An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar is also situated here.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 89134160) Dunkery Beacon (NR). [1] Dunkery Beacon, a large cairn about 150 feet east to west by 90 feet north to south. The flattened top, from the south, is about 12 feet in height on which a second cairn (about 5 feet high and probably modern) has been erected. Visited by Grinsell on 25 May 1958. [2] Dunkery Beacon is a cairn, listed by Grinsell as Cutcombe 5. It is now surmounted by a modern, conical monument erected by the National Trust. Against its western side and confluent with it are what appears to be the remains of another cairn. This is now robbed and very disturbed. See ground photographs AO/65/136/5 & 6. Re-surveyed at 1:2500. [3,4] SS 8912 4159. Cutcombe 5. Dunkery Beacon - probably in origin a sepulchral cairn with later additions for beacon and "tourist" purposes. It is shown on a map of 1687 crowned by a fire beacon in the form of a round tower and was perhaps dug into without result on 2nd November 1807 by A. Barrister (listed with reference to Ordnance Ssurvey record). [3,5-6] The highest point in Somerset, it possesses the most wide ranging views in the south west, extending to Dartmoor, the River Severn, and the Brecon Beacons. SS 8914 4159. Cutcombe 5 (Scheduled Monument 49a). The largest cairn of the group and that which now forms the highest point. It is of oval plan with diameters of 34 metres northeast to southwest and 27 metres northwest to southeast, with a flat circular top 15 metres across. The cairn is between 1.4 and 1.7 metres high, surmounted by a beehive shaped memorial cairn, erected in 1935. This, of cemented stones, is 5.5 metres in diameter and 3.3 metres high. An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar is on the west part of the cairn and a small stone pillar with a distance is on the southeast part of the top. The surface consists of compacted smallish stones, much trampled by visitors but there are indications of larger stones beneath, though no evidence of any formal structural elements. [7,8] The surface of the cairn (Cutcombe 5) has little vegetation cover and is generally worn. Large blocks have been exposed within the fabric of the mound. It seems unlikely that these blocks are part of the original Bronze Age monument. The commemorative monument on top is in good condition. [9] The five cairns on the summit of Dunkery Beacon were surveyed in August 2004 in response to a request by The National Trust to cover some of the monuments to protect them from further visitor damage. The new survey depicts the cairns as they were in October 2004, although even during the short time at the site, changes were observed in the state of the stony mounds due to visitor actions. [10] The cairn was transcribed as closely as possible from aerial photographs as part of the Exmoor National Mapping Programme survey, but in spite of its size it is not clearly visible, due in part to the vegetation cover of this area and the erosion caused by visitors to the site. [11-18] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a score of 9. [19] The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 9. [20] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [21]

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Article in serial: Gray, H.St.G.. 1947. The Rude Stone Monuments of Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 93. 123.
  • <3> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1969. Somerset Barrows, Part 1: West and South. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 113.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 21 June 1965.
  • <5> Monograph: Barrister, A.. 1811. A Tour in Quest of Geneology, through several parts of Wales, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire. Sherwood, Neely and Jones. 137.
  • <6> Monograph: Vowles, A.. 1939. Exmoor: Dunkery. Unknown.
  • <7> Collection: Pattison, P., Quinnell, N.V., Fletcher, M. and Sainsbury, I.. 1987-1988. RCHME: Exmoor Pilot Survey, SS 84 SE, Somerset.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Site visit, F1, 5 August 1987.
  • <9> Report: Cutler, G.. 2001. Dunkery Beacon: Survey of Prehistoric Burial Mounds.
  • <10> Report: Fletcher, M.. 2004. A new archaeological survey of: the summit cairns on Dunkery Beacon. English Heritage.
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. SS 8941/3 (15431/17) (15 May 1996).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. SS 8941/6 (15431/20) (15 May 1996).
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. SS 8941/9 (15450/13) (15 May 1996).
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. SS 8941/32-3 (24028/17-18) (9 August 2005).
  • <15> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4171-2(11 April 1947).
  • <16> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 956-7 (29 April 1973).
  • <17> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA Infra-red 2248-9 (20 April 1982).
  • <18> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SE. MD002185.
  • <19> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <20> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <21> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35990, Extant 8 March 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8915 4158 (27m by 29m)
Map sheet SS84SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park Authority HER number: MSO9187
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SE14
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35990
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33485

Record last edited

Mar 8 2022 1:38PM


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