MSO8632 - Purported beacon and cairn on Withycombe Hill (Monument)


A beacon is marked in this location on historic mapping. The reported remains of a cairn have not been confirmed during field investigation and the beacon appears to be an artifical feature created by quarrying activity.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

[ST 0021 4126] BEACON (NR). [1] The highest point of Withycombe Hill is called Fire Beacon, and no doubt has been used as such in former times. [2] No further information. [3] Withycombe 5A. At ST 0022 4127 is a natural mound. Withycombe 5b. At ST 0022 4118 are the possible remains of a cairn with a large stone on the outside. [Grinsell considers neither of these to be barrows.] [4] Quarrying just below the top of Withycombe Hill has tended to exaggerate the profile so that when viewed from the N.W. it looks like an artificial mound. The cairn could not be located. [5] ST 00224127. Withycombe 5a. Both R Rainbird Clarke and Grinsell concur that the 'Beacon' on Withycombe Hill is not a barrow but a natural eminence. ST 00224118 approx. Withycombe 5b. Possible remains of cairn, with large stone on outside found by R Rainbird Clarke in 1938. Indicated by Grinsell as a 'doubtful or rejected site'. [6] The Ordnance Survey 1st edition 25 inch map depicts a subrectangular mound, named "Beacon" at ST 0021 4126. [7] This NGR lies at the edge of a disused stone quarry. There is no evidence for either an artificial fire beacon mound or a prehistoric cairn in this vicinity. [8] A small mound at ST 0022 4127 is visible on aerial photographs, but it is likely to be either an artificial feature created by quarrying or a natural outcrop. While this feature may have been used as a fire beacon in the past, there is no evidence that it was deliberately constructed as such. No trace of the alleged cairn could be seen. [9, 10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Savage, J.. 1830. A History of the Hundred of Carhampton. 273-4.
  • <3> Unassigned: Hancock, F.. 1902. REV Object Name Book. 7.
  • <4> Article in serial: Grinsell, L V. 1969. Somerset Barrows: part 1. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 113. 42.
  • <5> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey, 27 May 1965.
  • <6> Article in serial: Grinsell, L V. 1969. Somerset barrows, part 1. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 113. 20, 42.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890, Somerset 47(2).
  • <8> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1999.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/79014 070-71 (17 April 1979).
  • <10> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183.



Grid reference Centred ST 0021 4122 (5m by 83m)
Map sheet ST04SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO255
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11706
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11713
  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 04 SW14
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 188608
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34265
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34276

Record last edited

Mar 12 2019 2:36PM


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