MSO6848 - Bronze Age burial cairns north of Long Chains Combe (Monument)


Two Bronze Age burial cairns are in the form of stony mounds. Both have been disturbed, and they lie in an area of scattered stone making their profile difficult to discern.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An area of tumbled stone with much reed growth on south facing slope above Long Chains Combe. First identified in 1980. At least two circular areas of stones approximately 6 metres in diameter which could be hut circles or robbed cairns. Other areas of stones are more amorphous and obscured by reeds. [1] Possible 8 - 12 small round houses with lengths of low wall running from them creating small plots. [2] The site was discovered by Arthur Phillips, then warden of Pinkery Field Studies Centre, in May 1980. In June and July the site was visited by Ian Burrow and also by Dr Curtis and Andrew Fleming (then working on Dartmoor). The latter thought the site very promising and detected intermittent traces of straight walling. No detailed survey work could be done until the rushes had been cleared. In November the Archaeological Advisory Group, including Ian Burrow, David Thackray and Steven Minnitt, visited the site. Nothing happened until 1982 when Arthur Phillips took Roger Beck, a geologist, who did not believe that the stones could have come there naturally and also that there would be no ecological damage caused by cutting the rushes. Circumstances prevented this from occuring, Arthur Phillips left Pinkery and nothing further was done. [3] SS 7441 4236. The site described is on a natural shelf, thickly covered by rough grass and rushes, on the south-east upper slopes of Hoaroak Hill. It is about 435 metres above Ordnance Datum and the slopes to the south fall steeply down to the Hoaroak Water as it runs eastwards through Long Chains Combe. Centred about SS 7442 4234, and rather untypical of Exmoor, is an area of scattered natural surface stone or scree, about 130 metres by 70 metres, running east to west along the shelf. Within this area, at SS 74394 42361 is a stony mound [A] built from the scree and measuring about 7.2 metres in diameter and 0.4 metres high. It is well defined around the northern periphery but appears to have been robbed, or mutilated, in the southwest quadrant and there is a spread of tumble outside the northeast. There is no definite kerb or any evidence of an entrance. A similar mound of consolidated small stones is situated some 28 metres to the east at SS 74423 42355 [B]. It is 6 metres north to south by 5.7 metres and 0.2 metres to 0.4 metres high. The central area is depressed and may have been robbed. There is no kerb or apparent break or entrance visible. These stony mounds are obviously two of the features seen by the previous authorities and classified as 'houses'. No trace of the other 'houses', 'walls' or 'small holdings of land' was seen and these appear to be misinterpretations of the many scatterings of scree. The mounds are in a poor condition and it is difficult to be certain as to their exact purpose but it is doubtful if they are the remains of houses (or hut circles as implied) and it seems most probable that they are the remains of two prehistoric round cairns. Surveyed at 1:2500 by GPS. [4] A subsequent visit to the site confirmed the interpretation given by [4]. The two stony mounds are clearly the remains of two prehistoric cairns, at least one of which may have been robbed. The surface clitter appears to be natural, although it is an unusual occurence on Exmoor. [5] This site was revisited on 25 March 1997 by various interested parties, including Dr Roger Beck, Veryan Heal, Arthur Phillips, Chris Webster and Robert Wilson-North. The two cairns were identified, but no further archaeological features or structures were seen. However, some doubt remains as to the origin of the extensive areas of surface stone which occur here. [6] Subsequent visits, including those by the Royal Comission for the Historical Monuments of England have failed to find this site. Only two cairns located but it is not clear whether this is a reinterpretation of the same site or a new site entirely. [7] Detailed plans were made of the two cairns using an overhead camera. [8] SS 74423 42355 [B]: A grass covered mound about 6 metres north to south, 5 metres east to west and 0.3 metres high with numerous small stones semi buried and loose on the mound with a hollowed centre about 0.2 metres deep. SS 74394 42361 [A]: A grass covered circular stoney mound about 7 metres north to south, 6 metres east to west and up to 0.4 metres high. Many small and large stones up to 0.6 metres by 0.3 metres are semi-buried and loose on the mound. The mound has a slightly dished centre about 0.15 metres deep. (9) This site is mentioned in the 2013 report by Hazel Riley, a field survey and synthesis of previous projects in the Hoaroak Valley, funded by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Unassigned: Burrow, Ian. 1980. No associated paperwork.
  • <2> Monograph: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1983. Ancient Exmoor: A Study of the Archaeology and Prehistory of Exmoor. The Exmoor Press. Microstudy C2. P. 56.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Eardley Wilmot, H. 20/6/1983. Eardley-Wilmot, H to Somerset County Council (20/6/1983) with report of history of discovery in HER files.
  • <4>XY Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 2 May 1995. [Mapped features: #46725 Mound A, ; #46726 Mound B, ]
  • <5> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. R Wilson-North and CJ Dunn, 1 August 1996.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 25 March 1997.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Phillips, A and Eardley-Wilmot H. Sept 1996. Phillips, A and Eardley-Wilmot H to Somerset County Council.
  • <8> Technical drawing: Probably by Brian Pearce, Assistant Vistor Services Officer of Exmoor National Park. July 1983. Photocopy of plans and photos.
  • <9> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 21 September 1995.
  • <10> Report: Riley, H.. 2013. Hoaroak Valley: Historic landscape survey and analysis. 30.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35503, Extant 12 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 74 42 (29m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11030
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12371
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12372
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW 65
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35503
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33169
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35560
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35561

Record last edited

Jan 12 2022 4:34PM


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