Ancient Monuments

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Linear barrow and cairn cemetery on Cosgate Hill, circa 240m north-west of County Gate Visitor Centre

A Scheduled Monument in Brendon and Countisbury, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2256 / 51°13'32"N

Longitude: -3.7329 / 3°43'58"W

OS Eastings: 279087.896359

OS Northings: 148809.022147

OS Grid: SS790488

Mapcode National: GBR L5.344N

Mapcode Global: VH5JT.7GX8

Entry Name: Linear barrow and cairn cemetery on Cosgate Hill, circa 240m north-west of County Gate Visitor Centre

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1968

Last Amended: 10 August 2016

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002567

English Heritage Legacy ID: DV 637

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Brendon and Countisbury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Countisbury with Lynmouth St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Summary

A prehistoric barrow and cairn cemetery that has a linear arrangement and is divided into three distinct groups of features. It is situated near the summit of Cosgate Hill, circa 340m above Ordnance Datum and overlooks the valley of the East Lyn River to the south.

Source: Historic England

Details

PRINCIPAL FEATURES
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a prehistoric barrow and cairn cemetery that has a linear arrangement and is divided into three separate groups of features. It is situated near the summit of Cosgate Hill, circa 340m above Ordnance Datum and overlooks the valley of the East Lyn River to the south.

DESCRIPTION
On the western side of the site is a group of four barrows in a linear alignment. The largest is an earth and stone mound at SS78994882, 10m in diameter and 0.8m high with a hollow 1.6m in diameter dug into its top. To the west, another mound is centred on SS789554882 and comprises a sub-rectangular bank, 11.6m by 7m in length and 0.4m at its highest point. Originally thought to be two barrows, it has more recently been considered to be a single, large, robbed barrow. This attribution has been queried due to its angular shape; however, its alignment and proximity with other similar features suggests it is a prehistoric barrow. The third mound is centred on SS78924883, and is 10.6m in diameter, between 0.4 and 0.7m in height and 2.4m wide. It has been interpreted as a robbed-out barrow. A small mound to the west was also identified during the 2002 survey, and has a turf-covered stony mound 7m in diameter and 0.5m high, which has been interpreted as a possible barrow.

Just below the summit of the hill, in the centre of the ridge, is a group of three circular features that were subject to a 1:2000 survey in 2002. The earth and stone mound at SS79164883 is 7.6m in diameter and 0.3m high and is surrounded by an internal ditch and a well-defined earthen bank which is 13.7m in diameter, 2.4m wide and 0.6m high. It has widely been interpreted as a saucer barrow, although the irregular shape has led to some suggestions that it may be a post-medieval feature. It may also be a heavily-robbed bowl barrow. A small flat-topped barrow, SS79184881, lies to the east and is 9.2m in diameter and 0.4m high. To the south is a large sub-circular feature at SS79174879. It has a large central hollow, 17.8m in diameter and up to 1.2m deep, with a surrounding 1m wide and 0.3m high turf-covered stony bank. The feature has been quarried to below ground level and it may be a heavily-robbed barrow, however, other sources have suggested its function and date cannot be readily ascribed.

A group of three small mounds lie on the south-east end of the ridge, along the line of the track way. They were first recorded by Grinsell in 1961 and have been interpreted as either clearance cairns or small prehistoric barrows/cairns. They were also recorded during the 2002 survey. The barrow centred at SS79274871 has a turf-covered mound 5.3m in diameter and 1.1m height; that at SS79274872 has a stony mound 4.7m in diameter and 0.8m high; while the third, at SS 79254873, has a heather-covered stony mound 6m in diameter and 0.8m high that shows signs of disturbance at the summit.

No external ditches have been identified; however, it is likely that some of the barrows will include the buried remains of a surrounding ditch, from which the construction material was derived.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING
The scheduling includes the known extent of this group of prehistoric barrows and cairns. Most of the scheduling boundaries include 3m margins around each of these archaeological features for their support and protection. The exceptions are the barrows centred on SS7887848834, SS79274871, SS79274872, and SS79254873 which are significantly smaller in diameter and which each include a 1m boundary.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The linear barrow and cairn cemetery on Cosgate Hill, circa 240m north-west of County Gate Visitor Centre, Exmoor is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the archaeological features survive comparatively well in the form of earthworks and buried archaeological remains;
* Diversity: it includes barrows of varying sizes and forms including a possible saucer barrow, a relatively rare type;
* Documentation: archaeological survey has considerably enhanced our understanding of the form and survival of the monument;
* Potential: they will contribute to our understanding of the social organisation and burial practices of the county's Bronze Age population;
* Group value: with other scheduled monuments on the high ground near the north coast of Exmoor that collectively form a relict funerary landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Exmoor National Park HER Records MDE1222, 1229, 20034, 20794, MMO71
Jamieson E, 2002, Cosgate Hill, Countisbury, Devon. English Heritage Survey Report
NMR OS/70064 031-2 03-MAY-1970
RAF 540/853 (F20) 4010-4011 29-AUG-1952
RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4037-8 11-APR-1947
Wilson-North WR 16-NOV-1993 RCHME Field Investigation

Source: Historic England

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