MSO8666 - Brightworthy Barrows: Three Bronze Age barrows on Withypool Common (Monument)


A group of features that were formerly thought to represent Bronze Age barrows. Feature A is now understood to represent a platform cairn and feature B is a ring cairn. Feature C appears to have been destroyed for road building materials.

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Type and Period (4)

Protected Status

Full Description

(A = SS 81823508) (B = SS 81743508) Brightworthy Barrows (NR) [1] A = SS 81823508. A disturbed tumulus, surmounted by an Ordnance Survey triangulation point S.5437, the central mound (diameter 60 feet Height 5 feet) resting on a well marked berm of approximately 80 feet in diameter and about 2 feet above the level of the surrounding ground. B = About 30 yards to the north of 'A' and enclosure (60 feet by 50 feet)- ? disc barrow with no central mound but several disturbances which may represent burials. Visited 13 April 1950. [2] Brightworthy Barrow - round barrow. Scheduled. (Barrow 'A' is the one scheduled - see illustration? This is presumably the only barrow remaining intact after the other two were damaged in 1913, as Weaver [10] reports then taking steps to preserved the remaining barrow). Weston [11] describes it as a prominent mound with an approximate diameter of 22 metres and 2.1metres high. On top of this is another mound about 2 metres high. There is a trig point with some erosion, leaving bare earth and loose stones. To the west a ring bank remains about 6 inches high and 13.5 metres across. [3] (C) Withypoole No 1, (SS 8167 3510), apparently shown as group of stones on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Destroyed for road metalling in 1913 [5,7]. No trace in 1961. (B) Withypoole No 2, (SS 8174 3508), a truncated bowl barrow that has been mostly removed. It is 18 paces in diameter and 2 feet high. (A) Withypoole No 3, (SS 8182 3508), a probable bell barrow with an overall diameter of 30 paces and a height 7 feet. The mound is 12 paces in diameter, the berm 5 paces wide and the ditch 4 paces wide. Visited by Grinsell 30th September 1961. Withypool 1 (barrow C) is listed by him as 'doubtful or rejected'. [4] Tratman's B is the published barrow and Grinsell's No. 2. It is a small circular bank 0.5 metres high with no trace of an internal mound or an outer ditch. It may be a disc but it is more likely the rim of a bowl barrow. Grinsells No. 3 consists of a berm 0.6 metres high surrounded by a central mound 1.6 metres high, there is no trace of the ditch mentioned by Grinsell. This may be a bell barrow but it seems more likely that it is a bowl barrow on which some attempt has been made to dig it away, as with No.1, of which no trace survives. Published survey, 1/2500 revised. [8] (A: SS 8182 3508; B: SS 8174 3508; C: SS 8167 3510) Brightworthy Barrows (Tumuli) (NR) (Barrow C shown only as a small circle of stones and not as a mound). Marked A, B, and C on the Ordnance Survey map. [9] Brightworthy Barrows are now in the process of being destroyed to provide stones for road metal. One has been razed completely, another has been destroyed but the material not yet removed, while the third is still intact. [7] Weaver [10] reports that two of the barrows "had been utterly destroyed". [7,10] Brightworthy barrows occupy a very prominent location on the summit of Withypool Common. They formed a linear group running roughly east to west although the westernmost barrow "C" has now been totally destroyed. The remaining two barrows also display signs of later disturbance and damage, presumably due to stone getting for road-making, mentioned by earlier authorities. Barrow A comprises a subcircular turf covered earth and stone mound. It is 24 metres in diameter with a maximum height of 1.9 metres and its summit is occupied by an Ordnance Survey triangulation station. The barrow has been badly robbed so that it now consists of an outer rim or scarp, 0.5 metres high, with a residual mound, 10 to 12.5 metres in diameter and 1.4 metres high, offset slightly to the northwestern side. Upon the mound is a the triangulation station. The berm between the base of the mound and the rim scarp is characterised by robbing hollows and delves. On the south eastern side of the barrow are traces of a ditch 1.7 metres wide and 0.2 metres deep. On the northern side robbing has confused the edge of the barrow. Barrow B comprises an earth and stone "ring bank" between 17 and 19 metres in diameter with the bank measuring 4.2 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. No entrance gap is visible. The interior of the feature has been disturbed especially on the east, whilst the outer face of the bank has also been mutilated in places. Barrow C has been totally destroyed. [12] Scheduling revised with new national number (was Somerset 97) on 24 February 2004. Barrow 'B' added to Schedule 24 February 2004. [13] Outer ditch seen on aerial photographs. [14] In private ownership. [16] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the eastern barrow (A) a survival score of 11 and the western barrow (B) a score of 3. [18] Barrow A has suffered severe erosion to the point that the foundations of the Ordnance Survey triangulation point are exposed to a depth of 0.4 metres. The barrow was conserved in April 2009 by filling in the erosion hollow. [19] The site was surveyed in March 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. Barrow A was given a survival score of 9 and Barrow B a score of 0. [20] A metric survey of two Bronze Age mounds on Withypool Common, Exmoor, carried out in August and September 2019. The work was undertaken to inform conservation works to one of the features. The results of the survey suggest that one "barrow" is in fact a platform cairn with retaining stone kerb and a central mound, and the other is a ring cairn with a mound in the northeastern quadrant. Feature C could not be located; the area was noted to contain the remains of disused peat cuttings and large patches of thick rushes. [21] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [22]

Sources/Archives (22)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. SS83NW.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Tratman, K.. 18/10/1950. Tratman, K. to Somerset County Council..
  • <3> Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 117 & 119.
  • <4> Article in serial: Grinsell, L.V.. 1969. Somerset Barrows. Part I: West and South. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 113. P. 42.
  • <5> Serial: Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 1851-. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. Volume 59, p69.
  • <6> Article in serial: The Times. 25.09.1935. Unknown.
  • <7> Report: Congress of Archaeological Societies. 1913. Report on Ancient Earthworks. P. 9.
  • <8> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 2 September 1965.
  • <9> Map: Gray, H.St.G.. 1905. Gray's Annotated Ordnance Survey 6 Inch Map. 1:10560.
  • <10> Article in serial: Weaver, F.W.. 1913. Unknown. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 59. I. P. 9.
  • <11> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report. SM Weston FMW 10 February 1982.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 2 August 1995.
  • <13> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 4/3/2004. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <14> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8135.
  • <15> Aerial photograph: September 19. HSL.UK.71-177 Run 81. 8516 & 8596.
  • <16> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <17> Photograph: 1984. Slide (SCC Planning Department). 3.042.0010.
  • <18> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <19> Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 3.
  • <20> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <21> Report: Riley, H.. 2019. Metric survey at Brightworthy Barrows, Withypool and Hawkridge, Somerset, Exmoor National Park: Project report. Hazel Riley.
  • <22> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35743, Extant 27 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8174 3509 (193m by 48m) (3 map features)
Map sheet SS83NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11727
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11728
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11729
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW3
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35743
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34295
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34296
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34297

Record last edited

Jul 28 2021 10:28AM


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