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Priddy Circle and barrow cemetery 400m north of Castle of Comfort Inn

A Scheduled Monument in Priddy, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2792 / 51°16'44"N

Longitude: -2.6581 / 2°39'29"W

OS Eastings: 354193.034481

OS Northings: 153540.682057

OS Grid: ST541535

Mapcode National: GBR JN.ZL2Q

Mapcode Global: VH89K.W34Q

Entry Name: Priddy Circle and barrow cemetery 400m north of Castle of Comfort Inn

Scheduled Date: 25 September 1933

Last Amended: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015501

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29041

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Priddy

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a part-finished Neolithic earth circle, one of the so-
called Priddy Circles, and a barrow cemetery containing five bowl barrows. It
is located on the Mendip Hills and lies 350m to the NNE of the three other
Priddy Circles. The Priddy Circles are regarded as Neolithic ritual monuments
similar to the henge class of monuments, but having external ditches.
The circle consists of an external ditch and an internal bank, partly
enclosing a slightly raised interior. The circle has a projected diameter of
185m-190m, and appears to be two-thirds complete. The missing western third
was investigated by a series of bore-holes in 1956-1959, which showed no
evidence for the presence of a bank or ditch. The external ditch is up to 6m
wide and 0.6m deep, with the internal bank standing up to 0.4m above the
internal ground level, which, as seen in the other Priddy Circles to the
south, appears to be slightly raised. The earthworks are best preserved to the
north east. The fact that the circle was unfinished could have been the result
of the subsidence which affected the other Priddy Circles, leading to the
abandonment of the whole site before completion.
There are four bowl barrows within the projected line of the circle, and
another located slightly to the west. The three eastern barrows were excavated
in 1832, with reported findings of ashes.
Excluded from the scheduling are all walls, fences and buildings, though the
ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They comprise
closely-spaced groups of up to 30 round barrows - rubble or earthen mounds
covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a
considerable period of time, often many centuries, and in some cases acted as
a focus for burials as late as the early medieval period. They exhibit
considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form, frequently including
several different types of round barrow, occasionally associated with earlier
long barrows. Where large scale investigation has been undertaken around them,
contemporary or later "flat" burials between the barrow mounds have often been
revealed. Round barrow cemeteries occur across most of lowland Britain, with a
marked concentration in Wessex. In some cases, they are clustered around other
important contemporary monuments such as henges. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape, whilst
their diversity and their longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

The Priddy Circles are considered to be related to henge monuments, but have
unique characteristics which distinguish them from other henges: the ditches
are external; the four circles are arranged in a distinct alignment suggesting
contemporaneous construction, and they have the same or similar dimensions to
each other; they are located on the uplands of the Mendip Hills, whereas most
henges have lowland sites. The northern Priddy Circle is distinct in that it
is unfinished, and could therefore provide comparative information on the
construction process in relation to the other circles, and the reason for
Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic
period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or
oval-shaped enclosures, comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed
by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to
the interior of the monument. The entrances to the Priddy Circles are
expected to be aligned NNE-SSW, but none have been discovered for the northern
circle. The interior of henges may have contained a variety of features,
including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burial or
central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide
important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types
of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in
which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the
exception of the south eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are
generally situated on low ground, often close to springs and water courses.
Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few
types of identified Neolithic structures, and in view of their comparative
rarity, all henges are considered to be of national importance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Tratman, E K, 'Proc. of University of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in The Priddy Henge Monument, , Vol. 11(2), (1966), 97-125
Tratman, E K, 'University of Bristol Speleological Society' in Barrow Catalogue, ()
Tratman, E K, 'University of Bristol Speleological Society' in Barrow Catalogue, ()
ms reference, B M Skinner excavation, SMR entry, 24049,, (1832)
ms reference, B M Skinner, 24047, SMR entry, (1832)
ms refernce, B M Skinner excavation, 24048 SMR entry, (1832)

Source: Historic England

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