Ancient Monuments

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Round barrow cemetery on Shapwick Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Combpyne Rousdon, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7332 / 50°43'59"N

Longitude: -2.9878 / 2°59'16"W

OS Eastings: 330380.604147

OS Northings: 93084.385901

OS Grid: SY303930

Mapcode National: GBR PH.68WZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 47M4.PSG

Entry Name: Round barrow cemetery on Shapwick Hill

Scheduled Date: 27 March 1958

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018852

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29662

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Combpyne Rousdon

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Uplyme St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a group of six Bronze Age
bowl barrows situated on Shapwick Hill in a commanding position overlooking
the surrounding countryside. Four of the barrows have surviving earth mounds
whilst the remaining two have been recognised in aerial photographs by the
presence of soil marks representing their surrounding quarry ditches. The
barrows once formed part of a larger round barrow cemetery, of which six
mounds are known to have been visible in the Anglo-Saxon period. A seventh
barrow, since destroyed, has been recorded a short distance to the west of the
Three barrow mounds close to the east side of the Trinity Hill Road form a
tightly spaced east-west linear group. All are low and flat-topped in
appearance varying between 6.3m and 7.7m in diameter and between 0.5m and 0.9m
in height with no more than 4m between any of the barrow mounds. The central
barrow of the linear group has evidence for a surrounding quarry ditch about
2m wide. All of the barrows in this group have disturbance to their mounds
which may have resulted from 19th century antiquarian investigations or
perhaps later activities. To the north east of the linear group is a further
group of three barrows, more widely spaced and on a north east-south west
alignment. The central barrow of this group has a plough reduced mound about
0.5m in height and 19m in diameter; it is surrounded by a circular quarry
ditch which appears as a distinctive soil mark on aerial photographs. To
either side of this barrow are two circular soil marks recorded on aerial
photographs. Both soil marks represent the surrounding quarry ditches of two
barrows, one 40m to the south west, and one 80m to the north east, of the
barrow with the surviving mound.
The barrow group as a whole has been identified in an Anglo-Saxon charter
boundary of AD 938 where it is recorded as `enlipsexberges' - the lonely six
barrows. Whether the six barrows of scheduling are the same as those of the
charter is not known for certain.

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

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 barrows at Shapwick Hill may originally have been part of a larger round
barrow cemetery, and, despite having been reduced by cultivation, four of the
barrows survive as recognisable mounds whilst the remains of two more survive
below ground as evidenced by the clear soil marks of their surrounding
ditches. The barrows will contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and landscape in which they were built. The barrows
were clearly visible in the Anglo-Saxon period and were consequently utilised
as a boundary marker.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hooke, D, Pre-Conquest Charter Boundaries of Devon and Cornwall, (1994), 130
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in The Barrows of South and East Devon, (1983), 43
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in The Barrows of South and East Devon, (1983), 43
NMR 2134, Hampton, J, (1983)

Source: Historic England

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