Ancient Monuments

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Four bowl barrows at Four Firs on Woodbury Common

A Scheduled Monument in Woodbury, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6692 / 50°40'9"N

Longitude: -3.3723 / 3°22'20"W

OS Eastings: 303115.537742

OS Northings: 86400.674203

OS Grid: SY031864

Mapcode National: GBR P5.GDV1

Mapcode Global: FRA 37T9.Q0G

Entry Name: Four bowl barrows at Four Firs on Woodbury Common

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018052

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29653

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Woodbury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Woodbury with Exton

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

The monument, which falls into four separate areas, includes four Bronze Age
bowl barrows lying in the quadrants of the Four Firs crossroads on Woodbury
Common. The barrows lie on the slope of the south facing part of the common
facing the mouth of the River Exe.
The barrows form a group of four mounds in a square formation at intervals
from one another of no more than 35m. The height of the barrow mounds within
the group varies between 1.8m and 2.5m with the two barrows to the north being
somewhat higher and more steep sided than those to the south. The diameter of
the mounds varies between 14.5m and 18m. Each of the barrows bears evidence of
having been surrounded by an encircling ditch, the best surviving example of
which surrounds the south eastern barrow where it is about 1.8m wide and a
maximum of 0.4m deep. None of the barrows is recorded as having been excavated
but the south eastern barrow has three central depressions on its mound
perhaps indicating antiquarian or more recent interest. All of the barrows
retain evidence of having been enclosed within an earth bank which may be the
result of landscaping modifications considered to date from the late 18th or
early 19th century; this is seen most clearly around the south eastern barrow
immediately beyond its encircling ditch.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. 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
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.

The four bowl barrows at Four Firs on Woodbury Common survive well as a group
despite the loss of part of the periphery of one of the barrows due to
quarrying. They all display survival of their encircling ditches and they
stand in association with a number of other recorded barrows in the vicinity.
They will retain archaeological information about the monument and the
region in which it was constructed. All four barrows appear to have been
modified as part of 18th to 19th century landscaping of the area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Southwell, C, An Archaeological Survey of Woodbury Common, (1980)
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in The Barrows of South and East Devon, , Vol. 41, (1983), 45
Other
Probert, S A J, RCHME Field Investigation, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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