MSO7926 - Bronze Age burial cairn northeast of Porlock Stone Circle (Monument)


A mutilated Bronze Age burial cairn, 5 metres by 4.3 metres and 0.3 metres high. Two possible kerbstones are visible.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A slight mound northeast of Porlock Stone Circle. It has a diameter of 28 feet and is 0.75 feet high. Small excavation by Mrs St.G Gray but nothing found. [1] The mound shown by St G Gray at SS 8453 4467 is a robbed and overgrown cairn. It has a maximum height of 0.4 metres. Surveyed at 1:2500. [2] Mutilated cairn 10 paces diameter and 1 foot high. Listed as Porlock 3. [3] "Cairn" printed on the Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map. [4] A multilated round cairn located at SS 8452 4468 on flattish ground 18 metres west of the Porlock to Exford road, 300 metres west-north-west of the source of Colley Water. Previously recorded with the adjacent stone circle (MSO7898) it is very badly damaged. It was presumably circular but has been altered by the trampling of cattle and the passage of vehicles. Its irregular and pitted surface reveals a composition of small to medium size stones which were probably gathered locally. It now measures 5 metres northeast to southwest by 4.3 metres northwest to southeast and stands a maximum 0.3 metres high. 1 metres south of its north side is a firm edge set slab 0.6 metres wide, 0.2 metres thick and 0.4 metres high which, orientated northeast to southwest, is probably a kerbstone. Another, smaller stone lies 1 metre to its east on the lip of the cairn; it is also firmly placed and also looks to be a kerbstone. A prominent hole approximately 1.5 metres in diameter and 0.2 metres deep dug into the west quadrant is possibly for the removal of stone or may be a crude exploration pit. [5] The cairn was subject to partial excavation in August 2013, as part of an attempt to determine the status of the small group of regularly placed stones to the east of the circle, thought to represent a continuation of the stone row (MSO7924). A level stone surface formed with a type of crude paving constructed with large, flat, subrectangular slabs of sandstone was noted to curve around the core of the cairn, which was characterised by a dense spread of small, blocky chunks of angular sandstone (generally 0.04 to 0.18 metres) whose sloping edge was marked by a series of larger, sloping or upright, slabs of distinctive pale yellow sandstone. This in turn was bounded by an arc of very large, flat slabs seemingly interspersed with upright settings. Spilling over the sloping edge and flat slabs were spreads of small angular chunks of sandstone (c. 0.14 metres) which appeared to correspond to tumble from the cairn core. As the intention was to investigate the uprights (not the cairn) this primary cairn material was defined but not excavated. It was noted that the paving and a buried soil beneath sealed the primary cairn material and spreads of tumble, suggesting the paving was more recent in date (possibly dating to World War Two military use of the site). The form of the cairn was therefore noted to have a core of small blocks, bounded by steeply sloping slabs of yellow sandstone, and perimeter of large flat slabs interspersed with orthostats, making a complex and striking structure – a circle of uprights ringing a raised mound or platform, adjacent to the arc of Porlock circle. The surrounding paved area may have been undertaken to enlarge and elaborate the original cairn structure through the creation of a platform, but is perhaps best seen as a much later episode of consolidation. Of the four uprights that prompted the excavation it was suggested that these were not related to the row and that their suggestive configuration was fortuitous. The only deliberate upright was stone C – part of the original cairn perimeter. Stones A and B were simply components of the cairn and D part of the encircling spread of rough paving.[6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Article in serial: Gray, H.St.G. 1928. The Porlock stone circle, Exmoor. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society. 14. P. 71-77.
  • <2> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 8 July 1965.
  • <3> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1969. Somerset Barrows. Part I: West and South. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 113. 38.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1978. 1:10,000 Map, 1978. 1:10,000. SS84SW.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Pattison, P. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 January 1990.
  • <6> Report: Gillings, M.. 2013. Excavation and Survey at Porlock Circle and stone row, Exmoor. 8-9.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 859419, Extant 19 June 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8452 4468 (17m by 18m)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11541
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW129
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 859419
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33936
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33939

Record last edited

Jun 19 2021 10:30PM


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