MSO6806 - Bronze Age Setta Barrow on Bray Common (Monument)


The Setta Barrow is a Bronze Age bowl barrow visible as a turf covered earth and stone mound. Atypically for Exmoor this feature has a retaining kerb.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

[SS 72563806] Setta Barrow (NR). [1] Setta barrow, on Bray Common, is one of the bounds between Devon and Somerset. It's form is a truncated cone and it's height is 5 feet 3 inches, which has been opened at the top. Its retaining circle of stones is very perfect, though partly obscured by the margin of the barrow. [2] Plan. [3] Setta Barrow is a large bowl barrow 2.7 metres high. The stone retaining circle survives around half the circumference and consists of slabs up to 0.7 m high. The centre of the barrow has been partly destroyed by a boundary bank. Published survey (1:2500) revised. [4] Variously called Setteburrough (1651), Settaburrough and Settaborough (1678), Sett Burrows (1765) and Sitters Barrow (1782). [5] SS 7256 3805: Exmoor 28/High Bray 6/Setta Barrow, visited by Grinsell in April 1949. The barrow is bordered by a fine peristalith and traces of a ditch. It is crossed by a wall. A "Boundary Stone placed in a Barrow called Settaburrow" is mentioned in an 1815 survey. Now surmounted by an OS Trig Point. [5-7] SS 726 379. Setta Barrow, round barrow, Scheduled. [8] Additional Bibliography. [9] SS 72557 38065. Setta Barrow is prominently situated, about 474 metres above Ordnance Datum, on the summit of the northwestern end of the southwestern ridge of Exmoor between Squallacombe on the northeast and Bray Common to the west. There are panoramic views; north to Chains Barrow, north east to Aldermans Barrow and Dundery Beacon, southeast to Two Barrows and Five Barrows, northwest to Shouls Barrow and north-north-west to the Chapman, Longstone and Wood Barrows. The area is predominantly enclosed rough grassland however the field to the southwest is pasture, at present cropped for hay, but this has not encroached on the barrow. The barrow a turf covered, earth and stone, flat-topped mound of 2.8 metres maximum height [13]. It varies slightly in overall diameter being 31.4 metres north to south to 30.0 metres east to west and is about 17 metres in diameter across its original summit. There is a slight change of profile midway between the outer edge of the summit and the perimeter. The barrow, untypically for Exmoor, has a retaining kerb, the western half of which is almost complete though the eastern side has been largely robbed leaving mainly a fairly well defined outer scarp. The kerb, uncommonly, takes three different forms. From the north around to the northwest it is formed by a curving line of large contiguous earthfast boulders, the largest being some 1.6 metres long, 0.35 metres thick and 0.6 metres high. One boulder has been displaced outwards and 2 metres south of this the kerb continues as a line of smaller, narrower, adjoining earthfast stones about 0.3 metres high and set on edge for a length of 8.5 metres. In th esouth-west the kerb is almost obscured by turf and is formed from small flattish stones laid horizontally to form low walling, about 0.4 metres high and 10 metres long. The barrow has been robbed, or crudely 'excavated', from the southeast leaving a central hollow 14 metres northwest to souteast by 10 metres and 1.2 metres deep. Spoil from the excavation has been dumped around the hollow almost obscuring the flat summit and creating an irregular false top which adds another 0.8 metres to its 2 metres height. Surrounding the barrow there are traces of a ditch about 2.5 metres to 3 metres wide and 0.1 metres maximum depth, evidenced by a shallow rush filled band around the perimeter. The 'excavation' is postdated by an enclosure wall which crosses the barrow centrally from northwest to southeast. The wall, 2.5 metres wide and from 0.5 metres to 1.5 metres high, is a turf covered earth and stone bank, its top and sides revetted with edge set stones. The barrow is a Scheduled Monument (Devon 209a) [11]. MacDermot [7] states that the boundary perambulation of 1815 referred to a "Boundary Stone placed in a Burrow called Settaburrow" (sic) however there is no trace of one now which may suggest that the 'excavation' was undertaken after this date and before the first enclosures. The wall crossing the barrow marks the line of the Devon/Somerset County Boundary and also the southern boundary of the Forest of Exmoor. According to Burton [13] it was almost certainly built by "H A Bryant, whose allotment adjoined the Barrow and Forest Boundary". On the 1890 Ordnance Survey map [11] a Triangulation Station is shown on the south-west edge of the barrow. This was presumably one of the County Series buried Trigs as there is no evidence of an O S Trig Point on the barrow as stated by [5] above. [10-14] Setta Barrow and accompanying barrows are clearly visible on aerial photographs of the area. While the surrounding ditch appears to have been damaged by the construction of the county boundary, the mound itself appears remarkably well preserved. [15-16] No obvious ditch, though margined with growth of rushes. Probably turf with stone revetment. [17] Was also used as a boundary marker of the forest. [18] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 0. [24] The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 0. [25] The stones were photographed by the RCHME in August 1996. [26] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [27] The site is labelled "Setta Barrow" on the 2021 MasterMap data. [28] The site is included in a 2023 Condition Survey [29]

Sources/Archives (29)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Article in serial: Worth, R.H.. 1906. Twenty-Fifth Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. P. 64-5.
  • <3> Article in serial: Chanter, J.F. and Worth, R.H.. 1905. The Rude Stone Monuments of Exmoor and its Borders. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 37. I. P. 395, Pl. 8.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 31 August 1965.
  • <5> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1969. Somerset Barrows. Part I: West and South. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 113. 17, 33.
  • <6> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. P. 104, 121.
  • <7> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1911. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. Barnicott and Pearce, The Wessex Press. 113,301,307,358,367,401,421 (E T MacDermot).
  • <8> Unpublished document: Various. Scheduled Monument Notification . DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 40.
  • <9> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1983. Ancient Exmoor: A Study of the Archaeology and Prehistory of Exmoor. The Exmoor Press. Microstudy C2. P. 15-16, 40.
  • <10> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890 (Surveyed 1888), Devon 11(5).
  • <11> Index: English Heritage. 1913-. Schedule of Monuments. English Heritage 1987 County List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments: Devon 17, County No:209..
  • <12> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 161.
  • <13> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1995. Setta Barrow/ink survey . 1:200. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 August 1995.
  • <15> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73087 623-24 (17 April 1973).
  • <16> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189.
  • <17> Report: Various. Various. Field Monument Warden Report. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
  • <18> Article in serial: Rawle, E.J.. 1894. Final Perambulation of Exmoor Forest. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 40. 171-178. 174.
  • <19> Monograph: Grinsell, L V. 1936. The ancient burial mounds of England. 137.
  • <20> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7238.
  • <21> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3446.
  • <22> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-167 Run 73. 7584.
  • <23> Report: Broomhead, R. 1991. ENPA FCS report.
  • <24> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <25> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <26> Photograph: Hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1996. Setta Barrow. Unknown. Negative.
  • <27> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35008, Extant 23 November 2021.
  • <28>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2021. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #38353 ]

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS73NW/502
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 730
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE1188
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO50
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10876
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW1
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 97/00165
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35008
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 209A
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33014



Grid reference Centred SS 2726 1381 (35m by 35m) Centred on
Map sheet SS21SE

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Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

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Record last edited

Feb 15 2024 2:08PM


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