Ancient Monuments

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Circular earthwork and barrows on Beacon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Stoke St Michael, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2113 / 51°12'40"N

Longitude: -2.519 / 2°31'8"W

OS Eastings: 363844.872574

OS Northings: 145912.005679

OS Grid: ST638459

Mapcode National: GBR MT.3ZKT

Mapcode Global: VH89V.9T5B

Entry Name: Circular earthwork and barrows on Beacon Hill

Scheduled Date: 2 April 1953

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006199

English Heritage Legacy ID: SO 237

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Stoke St Michael

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Two circular enclosures and three bowl barrows forming part of a round barrow cemetery on Beacon Hill.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 4 August 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes two circular enclosures and three bowl barrows which form part of a round barrow cemetery situated at the summit of the prominent Beacon Hill. The largest enclosure contains all the remaining features within its interior and survives as a circular area of approximately 200m in diameter defined by a low outer bank and partially buried ditch which survives differentially. The second enclosure is similarly defined with a bank which stands up to 2.5m wide and 0.5m high and has a diameter of approximately 36m. The three bowl barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. They vary in size from 11m up to 21m in diameter and from 1.5m up to 2.5m high. Surface undulations indicate early partial excavation and the interior of the outer enclosure has also been subject to tree planting and surface stone quarrying. One of the barrows has a clearly visible ditch of up to 3m wide and 0.5m deep and another is topped by a standing stone. This stone is a single dressed stone pillar of square section and up to 2m high and marks the centre of the outer enclosure. Its exact date is unknown and the stone is Listed Grade II. The enclosures have been interpreted in the past as a fort or two tree-rings. The barrows have been subject to a number of partial excavations one opened by Skinner in 1820 produced a coarse urn with chevron decoration half filled with a cremation. Another produced an urn and cremation, the find being made by the then Bishop of Bath and Wells. Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Despite partial early excavation, the two circular enclosures and three bowl barrows which form part of a round barrow cemetery on Beacon Hill survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronologies, relationships, function, territorial significance, social organisation, ritual and funerary practices and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-200312, 200264 and 200291

Source: Historic England

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