Ancient Monuments

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Three round barrows on Withycombe Common, 360m north of Fire Tower

A Scheduled Monument in Luxborough, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1453 / 51°8'43"N

Longitude: -3.4498 / 3°26'59"W

OS Eastings: 298683.3024

OS Northings: 139444.9619

OS Grid: SS986394

Mapcode National: GBR LK.83W0

Mapcode Global: VH6GT.5G3W

Entry Name: Three round barrows on Withycombe Common, 360m north of Fire Tower

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021119

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35707

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Luxborough

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument, which lies in three separate areas of protection, includes
three round barrows of prehistoric date located on Withycombe Common on
the summit of Black Hill. The barrows form a linear group of three which
are aligned from north to south along the spine of the hill. The
southernmost barrow is formed by an irregular circular mound with a height
of 2.2m and a diameter of between 25.8m and 29.3m. It is surrounded by a
narrow berm with an external ditch from which material was quarried during
the mound's construction, and it has an overall diameter of 31.6m. It is
surmounted by an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar. The central barrow
of the three, located 145m to the north of the former, has a flat-topped
mound, 0.4m in height and 11.7m in diameter. The mound has been disturbed
in the past; the south east side has been removed and stone has been dug
from its centre and placed on its top. The northernmost barrow is located
a further 130m to the north and is formed by a flat-topped earth and stone
mound, 11.6m in diameter and 0.5m high. A modern stone-heap, about 2m in
diameter and 0.75m high lies at the centre of the mound. Both the central
and northernmost barrow mounds, in keeping with the southenmost barrow and
with other barrows in the region, are surrounded by quarry ditches.
Although these are no longer visible at ground level they will survive as
buried features up to 2m wide.

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 others, Dartmoor and
Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little
excavation of its monuments. However, detailed survey work by the Royal
Commission on the Historical Monuments of England 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 include stone settings, stone alignments,
standing stones, and burial mounds (`barrows'). Bowl barrows, the most
numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating to the Late
Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to
the period 2400-1500BC. 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. Over 370 bowl barrows, varying in diameter
from 2m to 35m, have been recorded on Exmoor. Many of these are 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 -
whilst individual barrows 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 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. They are particularly representative of their period and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Despite the barrow mounds having been disturbed, probably in antiquity,
the three round barrows on Withycombe Common, 360m north of Fire Tower
survive comparatively well. They will contain archaeological deposits and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed. They also form a visual element in the landscape,
being located close to a well-used footpath across the open moorland of
Withycombe Common.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113, (1969), 42
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113, (1969), 42
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, , Vol. 113, (1969), 42
SS 93 NE 4, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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