Ancient Monuments

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Four round barrows on Soussons Down, 960m north west of Soussons

A Scheduled Monument in Manaton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6017 / 50°36'6"N

Longitude: -3.8708 / 3°52'15"W

OS Eastings: 267699.378632

OS Northings: 79670.000031

OS Grid: SX676796

Mapcode National: GBR Q9.XFDM

Mapcode Global: FRA 27SG.V3L

Entry Name: Four round barrows on Soussons Down, 960m north west of Soussons

Scheduled Date: 14 November 1974

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021189

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28696

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Manaton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Manaton St Winifred

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes four round barrows situated on a ridge separating
the valleys of the East Dart and West Webburn Rivers. The northern barrow
survives as flat topped 10m diameter mound standing up to 0.5m high. Next
to this barrow is a substantial mound measuring 20m in diameter and 1m
high. Two edge set stones on the south eastern side of the mound may
represent the remains of a kerb which survives elsewhere as a buried
feature. The next mound to the south is 14m in diameter and 1.4m high.
This barrow was partially excavated in 1902 by the Dartmoor Exploration
Committee, who found a flint arrowhead, two pieces of bronze and a central
pit containing wood charcoal and burnt bone. A paved area beside the pit
was also covered in bone and charcoal. The southern mound which measures
19.5m in diameter and stands up to 2.2m high was also partially excavated
revealing charcoal, a flint flake and a circular cist containing burnt
human bones and another flint flake. A single sherd of pottery and traces
of a stone kerb were also recorded.

Both excavated barrows were composed largely of soil and all four may have
been constructed in this way. Therefore, although no longer visible,
quarry ditches from which this material was derived surround the mounds
and survive as buried features with a maximum width of 4m.

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

Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and,
because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most
complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The
great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provide direct evidence
for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards.
The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites,
major land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as
later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes
in the pattern of land use through time. Round cairns are prehistoric funerary
monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, the latter predominating in areas of upland Britain
where such raw materials were locally available in abundance. Round cairns may
cover single or multiple burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer
ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, they are 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 protection. Dartmoor provides one
of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south-
western Britain.

Despite partial excavation and afforestation of the surrounding area, the
four round barrows on Soussons Down, 960m north west of Soussons, survive
well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to
the monument and the landscape in which it was built. The ridge location
of the mounds combined with the substantial size of at least three of
them, suggests that they may have also been significant early territorial
markers. The partial excavation of two mounds indicates that they are
unusually constructed mainly of earth, rather than of the stones found at
most Dartmoor funerary mounds. The survival of abundant amounts of bone is
particularly unusual on Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 19
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)

Source: Historic England

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