|Hamish - I found this on the barrow at the Somerset Historic Environment Record:
"The site is named "Big Tree" from an elm which stood on it until c1960. The mound now resembles a [round?] barrow, but the S end may have been removed when the A362 was made."
Strachey records the barrow as "Modbarow" in his 1737 map, and (spelling obviously not of great importance to him) said "Madborough on Buckland Down is a large round tumulus.. At Madbarrow the Sherriffs Turn* is still kept which shows it a place of remark". Strachey did not mention any stones (as you'd imagine he would if he'd seen them).
*the Sherrif's turn, I believe, was like a county court. But outdoors.
Skinner, however, who visited in 1825, was told that three upright stones had once been there. He was also told that burials had been found.
..I have before noticed in my journals that a large tumulus on Buckland Down had three stele or upright stones placed so as to form a triangle; they were, as my informant said, who assisted in breaking the stones for the road[!], as high as a man on horseback, that is about the height of that under our present consideration at Orchardley (Orchardleigh).(Quote from PSASv67, info also from website link below).
I also read a recentish bit of folklore connected with the site - from Proc Som Arch Soc 87, from 1941. The 'Big Tree' was blown down during a severe gale [rather knocking the 'c1960' date on the head] "and after a lapse of several years is still lying as it fell untouched.. 'It has not been removed' the writer was recently informed, 'because it is on a burial place'." We can only speculate whether this was the actual or presumed reason for the tree not being removed.
More on the finds at
Posted by Rhiannon
23rd April 2005ce
Edited 17th August 2005ce