MSO8683 - Bronze Age bowl barrow on Withypool Hill (Monument)


A bowl barrow on Withypool Hill disturbed by robbing and possible excavation. The barrow mound measures 20.5 metres in diameter and stands roughly 1.1 metres high. A modern cairn has been built on the eastern side of the summit.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 8400 3445) Tumulus (NR) [1] Scheduled. [2] Withypool 6. Bowl barrow listed. The mound is truncated and hummocky, and is crowned by Ordnance Survey triangulation point. Visited by Grinsell 30th Sept 1961. [3] Robbed bowl barrow 1.1 metre high. Traces of the edge of the barrow. The mound has been cut back. (See GPs AO/65/192/3 & 4). Published Survey (1:2500) revised. [4] Centred at SS 8400 3445 on the summit of Withypool Hill is a prehistoric barrow. It is 20.5 metres in diameter and 0.9 metres high. Its summit has been disturbed by robbing and possibly excavation: it is now covered by amorphous hollows. A modern cairn has been built on the eastern side of the summit. The southern part of the mound has a break in the slope suggesting that the material from the robbing hollows has been dumped on the slope. "Quarry" ditches around the eastern and northern sides of the barrow appear to be recent and either represent robbing, or an attempt to locate a presumed kerb around the monument. Despite the interference to the monument, no excavation is documented. A nearby field bank forms part of an extensive system of enclosures on Withypool Hill , and might provide a context for the disturbance to the barrow (see MSO8752). [5] SS 8401 3445. Scheduling revised with new national number (was Somerset 167) on 24 February 2004. [6] The much disturbed remains of a bowl barrow of probable Bronze Age date are visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, centred on circa SS 8400 3445. The diameter of the outer earthwork bank is approximately 20 metres. Within this, a smaller irregularly shaped mound of approximately 9 metres diameter can be seen, presumably the modern cairn described by [5]. In addition it may be valuable to note that on the 1940s aerial photographs the ground surface is visibly rutted and disturbed probably by military vehicles, immediately around the barrow and for an area around for at least 8 hectares. Less visible disturbance probably extended for a considerable distance beyond this area. [7-11] This monument is a large barrow on the summit of Withypool Hill, 30 metres in diameter and 1. 05 metres high. It has been rather cut about internally but not recently. Traces of an outer bank can be seen approximately 0.2 metres from the circumference of the main mound. A collection of smallish stones was lying on the ground surface in one place on the barrow. [12] In private ownership. [15] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 4. [18] The site was surveyed in March 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 4. [19] The barrow was subject to a desk based assessment and field survey, as well as geophysical survey (magnetometry and resistivity) in January and February 2017. The works were commissioned by Exmoor National Park Authority and funding was provided by Historic England as part of a study of Withypool Stone Circle and the wider area. It was suggested that the damage noted in the 1995 survey [5] may also have been caused by removal of material for post-medieval field boundaries and disturbance during World War Two. The barrow and its condition as recorded in 2017 correlates strongly with the 1995 description. Damage is more extensive around the southern side, and there appears to be some phasing to the excavations. The north excavation appears to cut through the central excavation, perhaps indicating that the latter was an antiquarian excavation. The largest eastern hollow also cuts through the more extensive excavation around the southern edge of the barrow. The modern cairn on the top is still present, and material seems to be being brought up the hill to the cairn (perhaps from the quarry car park immediately west of the survey area, southwest of Portford Bridge), rather than being derived from the barrow itself. The flat areas are generally free of dense vegetation, but gorse and tall grasses are present on the scarps and within the excavation hollows. Both the magnetometer and resistance data contained evidence for structural components within the bowl barrow. It is clear the resistance data reflected different, probably slightly deeper deposits in the barrow than those represented by the magnetic data. The resistance anomaly groups around and within the barrow strongly suggested the presence of an external encompassing ditch and a barrow with a relatively stony composition. Both data sets contained evidence of disturbance at the barrow summit and the likely presence of robber and/or excavation trenches. Two magnetic anomaly groups with characteristics often associated with intense, in situ heating were recorded adjacent to the barrow. [20] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [21]

Sources/Archives (21)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 119.
  • <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. P. 42.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PITCHER, GHP. 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 1 September 1965.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 2 February 1995.
  • <6> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 4/3/2004. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 160G/UK/1655 (F20) 3295-6 (11 July 1946).
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/860 (F20) 3104-5 (2 September 1952).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73086 772-3 (17 April 1973).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS/8334/5 (15885/30) (19 March 1998).
  • <11> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 SW. MD002197.
  • <12> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
  • <13> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 8434.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3361.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <18> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <19> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <20> Report: Passmore, A. and Dean, R.. 2018. Withypool Hill, Withypool, Exmoor Park: Results of archaeological desk-based assessment, measured and photographic survey of Withypool Stone Circle, and geophysical survey. m7-11, r3-13.
  • <21> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35805, Extant 2 February 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 8400 3445 (41m by 33m)
Map sheet SS83SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Environmentally Sensitive Area
  • Exmoor National Park Authority HER number: MSO8683
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO130
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11732
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SW2
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35805
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34300

Record last edited

Feb 2 2022 10:55AM


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