Ancient Monuments

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Brightworthy Barrows on Withypool Common

A Scheduled Monument in Withypool and Hawkridge, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1028 / 51°6'10"N

Longitude: -3.6892 / 3°41'21"W

OS Eastings: 281828.2148

OS Northings: 135084.2356

OS Grid: SS818350

Mapcode National: GBR L7.BWRD

Mapcode Global: VH5KF.0JJX

Entry Name: Brightworthy Barrows on Withypool Common

Scheduled Date: 11 January 1932

Last Amended: 24 February 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021264

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35973

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Withypool and Hawkridge

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument, which lies in two separate areas of protection, includes two
bowl barrows located in a prominent position on the broad plateau of
Withypool Common. The barrows occupy an area of level ground which falls
steeply away to the north, overlooking the Barle Valley and beyond, and
eastwards, to Knighton Combe and Withypool Hill. The barrows are the two
surviving members of a linear group of three known collectively as
Brightworthy Barrows. The original profiles of both barrows have been
modified in antiquity, and in the modern era when stone was removed for
road metalling. The easternmost barrow survives as a near circular earth
and stone rim about 0.5m high with an average width of 6m. The surface of
the rim is uneven and has been hollowed in places. An irregularly shaped
mound of the same material lies within the rim, offset slightly to the
north west side and has a maximum diameter of 12.5m and is 1.4m high. The
rim is surrounded by an outer ditch from which material was quarried for
the mound's construction, this is visible on the south eastern side as a
shallow depression 1.7m wide and 0.2m deep. The remaining circuit of the
ditch survies as a buried feature which can be seen on aerial photographs.
The overall diameter of the bowl barrow is 27.4m. An Ordnance Survey
triangulation pillar surmounts the top of the mound.
The second bowl barrow lies 90m to the west and survives as a near
circular rim bank 4.2m wide, up to 0.75m high and with a maximum overall
diameter of 19m. The bank encloses an uneven slightly raised area of
ground which represents the remains of the bowl barrow mound. In common
with the bowl barrow located to the east, the mound would have been
surrounded by a quarry ditch which is not visible at ground level but will
survive as a buried feature aproximately 1.5m 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 disturbance, the mounds of Brightworthy Barrows survive
comparatively well and will contain environmental evidence and
archaeological deposits relating both to the monument and the wider
landscape in which it was constructed. The barrows form a visible element
in an area of Exmoor which is rich in prehistoric monuments.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 42
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of Somerset Archaelogical & Natural History Society' in Somerset Barrows, (1969), 42
SS 83 SW 3, National Monuments Record,
SS 83 SW 3, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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