Ancient Monuments

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Three round cairns on Wills Neck

A Scheduled Monument in West Bagborough, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1098 / 51°6'35"N

Longitude: -3.1943 / 3°11'39"W

OS Eastings: 316491.869254

OS Northings: 135174.443706

OS Grid: ST164351

Mapcode National: GBR LX.B8LJ

Mapcode Global: VH6H4.LC5L

Entry Name: Three round cairns on Wills Neck

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1975

Last Amended: 15 June 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016502

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32174

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: West Bagborough

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes three Bronze Age round cairns situated in a prominent
location 730m south of Triscombe Stone on Wills Neck, a high, broad plateau in
the southern region of the Quantock Hills, between Middle Hill and Bagborough
Hill. Following an ESE to WNW alignment, the cairns include one with a
levelled interior situated between two bowl shaped cairn mounds. The mound of
the westernmost cairn is 21m in diameter, the mound of the easternmost cairn
is 20m in diameter and both are approximately 1m high. A previous study of the
easternmost cairn mound records the presence of an internal stone kerb of
approximately 4.5m diameter. The central cairn is formed by a bank 4m wide and
up to 0.9m high enclosing a levelled central area 30m in diameter. Early maps
show a fire signal pit plotted at this location which may indicate that the
original form of the cairn has been modified to accommodate this later
feature. There are no longer any visible signs of the fire pit.
The concrete trig point which is located on the mound of the easternmost cairn
is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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

The area of the Quantock Hills, although small in extent, is one of the few
remaining expanses of open moorland in southern Britain. Its archaeological
importance lies in the existence of a landscape displaying examples of
monuments tracing the exploitation of the hills from the Bronze Age onwards.
Well-preserved monuments from the Bronze Age and Iron Age, including round
barrows, cairns, settlements, hillforts and a trackway, as well as later
industrial remains, give insights into changes in the pattern of land use on
the hills through time. These earthwork features are one of the key components
of the Quantocks' broader landscape character.
Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, the latter
predominating in areas of upland Britain where such raw materials were locally
available in abundance. Round cairns may cover single or multiple burials and
are sometimes surrounded by an outer ditch. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. Their
considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
amongst early prehistoric communities. Twelve round cairns have been recorded
on the Quantocks, although the original figure is likely to have been higher.
They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite partial levelling of the central cairn and erosion of the easternmost
cairn, the three round cairns on Wills Neck survive comparatively well as a
group and will contain archaeological deposits and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.
Evidence for later use of the central cairn provides an indicaton of their
continued importance in the historic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113 Pt1, (1969), 40
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113 Pt1, (1969), 40
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113 Pt1, (1969), 40

Source: Historic England

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