MSO6836 - Chains Barrow (Monument)


A Bronze Age bowl barrow visible as a flat-topped earthwork about 25 metres in diameter and 1.7 metres high, surmounted by a triangulation pillar. There are traces of a surrounding ditch. Summary from record MMO93: Chains Barrow - a bowl barrow visible as a flat-topped earthwork of a maximum diameter of c.25m into which has been inserted a triangulation pillar. The uneven surface of the summit suggests that spoil has been backfilled to support the pillar. There are traces of a surrounding ditch about 2m wide and a maximum depth of 0.2m evidenced by a shallow rush-filled hollow.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

[SS 73454190] Chains Barrow (NR) [1] Chains Barrow (Exmoor No. 2) is 25 paces in diameter and 6 feet high: there is an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar on top. Visited by Grinsell 8th Sept 1959. It is known as Cheyne Barrow in 1653. [2] Scheduled. [3] A large bowl barrow apparently undisturbed except by the OS trig pillar. See GP AO/65/129/3 Published survey (1/2500) revised. [4] No change. Surveyed at 1:2500 on PFD. [5] This or Exmoor 3 (MSO6837) may have been called Exaborough in the 17th Century. [6] SS 73457 41904. Chains Barrow is prominently situated in an area of grassland on the summit of The Chains ridge about 485 metres above sea level. There are panoramic views; to the north-west are the Chapman, Longstone and Wood Barrows, to the east Alderman's Barrow and Dunkery Beacon. A triangulation pillar is set into the summit of the barrow, slightly southwest of its centre and the base is eroded to a depth of about 0.2 metres into the barrow. The barrow is evident as a turf covered, flat topped earth and stone mound of 1.7 metres maximum height and varying in overall diameter from 23.6 metres north to south to 24.8 metres east to west. Its sides are badly eroded in places probably by sheep. There is a distinct change of profile at the edge of the flat top which is some 15.5 metres in diameter. Although there is no documentary evidence for excavation the uneven surface of the summit area suggests spoil may have been backfilled and consolidated to support the trig pillar. There are traces of a surrounding ditch, about 2 metres wide and 0.2 metres in maximum depth, evidenced by a shallow rush filled hollow around the periphery. The barrow is a Scheduled Monument and is surrounded by peat cuttings which have come close to the ditch on the southwest side. It has been enclosed by a fence to protect it from sheep and cattle however this is too close to the rim of the barrow, actually encroaching on the outer lip of the ditch, and it is causing an erroneous edge to the feature, especially around the south arc. Surveyed at 1:2500. [7] The Chains Barrow is clearly visible on aerial photographs; however, the surrounding ditch cannot be discerned as it lies in an area of post medieval drainage and peat cutting, which appears to have obscured the profile. [9,10] The barrow is used as a standing place for cattle which has resulted in the erosion of turf and subsoil. [11] The barrow is 2 metres high and 28 metres across. It is rather eroded round the base of the trig point. [12] A grass-covered circular flat-topped mound with an uneven surface about 27 metres in diameter and about 2 metres high. Roughly in the centre of the mound is an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar sitting on a concrete base. There are shallow hollows on the east side of the mound up to 5 metres long, 5 metres wide and 0.25 metres deep, which do not appear to be recent. A fence has been erected around the base of the mound to protect it but this has caused a well-worn (up to 0.25 metres deep) path to develop around the fence, particularly adjacent to the stile in the southwest corner. A rush filled ditch about 1.1 metres wide and 0.05 to 0.1 metres deep runs around the outside of the mound about 1 to 1.5 metres away from the fence. [15] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 3. [16] The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 3. [17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [18] The barrow is depicted and named on the 2022 MasterMap data. [19] The site is included in a 2023 Condition Survey [20]

Sources/Archives (20)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V. 1969. Somerset Barrows, part 1. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 113. p 113, supplement p 16, 32.
  • <3> Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 117.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 1 July 1965.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Fletcher, M.J.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F2, 4 December 1975.
  • <6> Monograph: MacDermot, E.T.. 1911. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. Barnicott and Pearce, The Wessex Press. 402.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 May 1995.
  • <8> Index: English Heritage. 1987. County List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Somerset 24, County No.157.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. CPE/UK/2082 3107-08 (19 May 1947).
  • <10> Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Aston, M. 01.02.77. Aston, M to ENP.
  • <12> Report: Various. Various. Field Monument Warden Report. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
  • <13> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7341.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3150.
  • <15> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 21 September 1995.
  • <16> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <17> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35326, Extant 11 January 2022.
  • <19> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2022. MasterMap data. 1:2,500.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO93
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO10891
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW4
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35326
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): Somerset 157
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33030



Grid reference Centred SS 2735 1419 (32m by 32m)
Map sheet SS21SE

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Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Feb 15 2024 2:13PM


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