Ancient Monuments

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Kit Barrows Cairns

A Scheduled Monument in Luccombe, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1672 / 51°10'1"N

Longitude: -3.5739 / 3°34'25"W

OS Eastings: 290054.7779

OS Northings: 142059.0181

OS Grid: SS900420

Mapcode National: GBR LD.6NG2

Mapcode Global: VH5K3.0XHM

Entry Name: Kit Barrows Cairns

Scheduled Date: 10 December 1929

Last Amended: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020828

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35581

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Luccombe

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes two
prehistoric cairns known as Kit Barrows Cairns, located in open moorland
on the wide summit of Dunkery Hill. The cairns, which are aligned NNE-SSW
are situated on a broad spur which extends to the east of Dunkery Beacon.
The centre of each cairn mound has been robbed in antiquity but they
survive as near-circular stone banks which enclose a central area of
random low stone boulders. The bank of the northernmost cairn is 0.5m high
and 24m in diameter and has a depression to the south, which may be a
quarry from which stone material was extracted for the construction of the
cairn mound. The bank of the southernnmost cairn is 0.6m in height and
12.5m in diameter; it also has a quarry immediately to the south. A recent
stone heap has been placed within the bank on the south side of this

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

Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south
western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor
and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and
little excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, survey work has confirmed
a comparable richness of archaeological remains, with evidence of human
exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day.
Many of the field monuments surviving on Exmoor date from the later
prehistoric period, examples including stone settings, stone alignments,
standing stones, and burial mounds (barrows or cairns).
Round cairns are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period
to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period
2400-1500BC. They were constructed as rubble mounds 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. Over
370 barrows or cairns, varying in diameter from 2m to 35m, have been
recorded on Exmoor, with many of these found on or close to the summits of
the three east-west ridges which cross the moor - the southern escarpment,
the central ridge, and the northern ridge. Individual cairns and groups
may also be found on lower lying ground and hillslopes. Those which occupy
prominent locations form a major visual element in the modern landscape.
Their longevity as a monument type can provide important information on
the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric
communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Despite the mounds having been disturbed in antiquity, Kit Barrows Cairns
survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological deposits and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed. The cairns form a visual element in the open moorland
being located near a well-used footpath across Exmoor which passes close
to the prominent and well-known Dunkery Beacon.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 30
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 30
SS 94 SW 1, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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