Ancient Monuments

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Two round cairns on Dunkery Hill, 390m and 420m south east of Rex Stile Head

A Scheduled Monument in Wootton Courtenay, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1699 / 51°10'11"N

Longitude: -3.5626 / 3°33'45"W

OS Eastings: 290845.6818

OS Northings: 142343.3824

OS Grid: SS908423

Mapcode National: GBR LD.6K8Q

Mapcode Global: VH5K3.6VFJ

Entry Name: Two round cairns on Dunkery Hill, 390m and 420m south east of Rex Stile Head

Scheduled Date: 23 April 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35587

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Wootton Courtenay

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes two
prehistoric round cairns situated in open moorland on a natural terrace
located on a south and east facing slope of Dunkery Hill. The cairns are
outlying members of a round cairn cemetery, the centre of which is located
approximately 450m to the north on a level plateau on the eastern side of
Dunkery Hill,and forms the subject of separate schedulings. Each cairn has
a near-circular earth and stone mound. The mound of the easternmost cairn
is 11m in diameter and 0.4m high; the mound of the cairn, located
approximately 80m to the south west, is 9m in diameter and is 0.5m high.

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 some surface disturbance to the mound of the easternmost cairn the
two round cairns located 390m and 420m south east of Rex Stile Head
survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological deposits and
environmental evidence relating both to the cairns and the wider landscape
in which they were constructed. The cairns form satellite cairns
associated with a major round cairn cemetery (a group of cairns sited in
close proximity to one another) which includes the prominent Joaney How
and Robin How cairns. Together these cairns form a visual element in the
open moorland, being located close to a well-used footpath.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 43
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 43
SS 94 SW 15, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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