A huge Roman iron factory has been unearthed at a remote spot on the southern edge of Exmoor.
Scientists believe the site near Brayford would have supplied markets right across the Roman Empire... continues...
A large circular earthwork is visible on Parracombe Common consisting of a bank and internal ditch which has been interpreted as a henge or a disc barrow. The earthwork forms an enclosure measuring 40 metres in diameter with a bank 3.4 metres wide by 0.4 metres high. It has an internal ditch 0.3 metres deep, and has been bisected by a hedge bank. There was no visible evidence of an entrance during field investigation in 1993. The monument is clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in 1952, but by 1972 it has been severely damaged by ploughing and other agricultural activity. Too much of the monument has been either obscured or destroyed to allow the various claims as to the monument's nature to be evaluated purely on the basis of the surviving field evidence. On the aerial photographs from 1952, however, it most closely resembles a disc or saucer barrow.
Just had a short break in north Devon, walking on Exmoor; along the coastal path from Lynton; and the green paths around some of timeless, unspoilt villages. I was aware before going that apart from Bronze Age barrows there was no exceptionally impressive prehistoric archaeology on Exmoor – we did manage to find the Long Stone and associated barrows, Longstone Barrow and Chapman Barrows. The Long Stone stands in very boggy land about half way between them. A local man who worked in the Exmoor Visitor’s Centre down in Lynmouth told us he understood there was as much of the stone beneath the surface as there was above – the stone stands approximately three metres high (nine feet) and slim in width.
We started our walk by walking uphill towards the Pinkery Exploration Centre from Goat Hill Gate where there is a small road side parking area. The path up to Pinkery Pond was by and large a good one – once at the top it became considerably cooler and windier in the autumn sunshine. We then followed the fence line path to Wood Barrow Gate where we had to climb over a tricky barbed wire fence as the actual path was on the other side of the fence. At this point our progress was watched by a herd of Highland cattle as this was true moorland. The ground very boggy – good walking boots essential (I was very glad I changed my mind about going up there in light walking shoes). We stopped for a bit at the Long Stone Barrow to have a drink and a snack before going over to the Long Stone, which is quite well camouflaged against the moorland grass. It’s an intriguing stone and we couldn’t help speculating about why it was there, I imagine its purpose is closely related to the large barrows on either side of it. As we retraced our steps back to Pinkery Pond we saw a pair of red deer in the distance, one of them definitely a stag. Walking downhill into the warm afternoon sunshine following the course of a moorland stream made our walk an enjoyable experience indeed.
To the west of Haytor Vale alongside the B3387 – you can’t miss it!
There are a couple of car parks you can choose from, the main one has an information centre and toilets. I bought the E.H. site guides for Merrivale, Hound Tor DMV and Grimspound from the shop.
I don’t know if this site is appropriate to be included on TMA but as other rock outcrops are I assume it is? If not, apologies to the Eds who I am sure will delete anyway!
This is a significant landmark and I am sure it will have been as much a curiosity for the ancients as it is for visitors today.
The walk up to the Tor isn’t that far but it is a little steep. The weather wasn’t so good today and a cold wind and light drizzle took the edge off the visit. There are handy steps carved into the rocks which make climbing to the top a lot easier than it would otherwise have been. There are great all round views to be had but due to the weather the view was limited to ‘only’ several miles.
This is a great place to visit when in the area. I just love these rock Tors – great places to explore!
Twitchen Barrows (Tumuli) [O.E.] (1)
Tumulus at 'A' approx. 35ft diam. - 5ft 6ins in height.
Tumulus at 'B' approx 60ft diam - 5ft 6ins in height. (2)
W barrow sited at SS 80313226, visited by Grinsell 26.10.59. Hole at Centre. "Two stones lying outwards, perhaps from some internal structure" (a). E barrow sited SS 80403226, visited by Grinsell 26.10.59. On heath and mutilated. (3-4)
SS 80323225. A grass covered round barrow 14.0 m in diameter and 1.7 m high. Excavation hollow in centre, but Clarke's stones not visible in centre or perimeter.SS 80413225. A grass covered round barrow 20.0 m in diameter and up to 1.7 m high. The broad top has been excessively dug into by way of pits and trenches.Both barrows are in reclaimed pasture.OS 1:2500 surveys revised. (5)Scheduled 672 (6)
Twitchen Barrows, a pair of prehistoric round barrows, are centred at SS 80383225, at the east end of the summit of Twitchen Ridge.
The westerly barrow, centred at SS 80323225, consists of a circular mound 11.5m in diameter and 1.4m high. A possible excavation trench, 2.2m wide, 3.4m long and 0.3m deep has been driven into the summit from the south. It has been exploited by an animal scrape. There is no trace of an encircling ditch around the barrow.The easterly barrow, centred at SS 80413225, measures 19.4m north-south by 23.1m west-east and is 1.3m high. It has been extensively robbed, and is bisected by a zig-zagging robbing trench 0.5m deep running roughly west-east. To the north of this the barrow appears largely intact, whilst to the south the surface is uneven and very disturbed.Both barrows are covered in close cropped grass and lie within improved pasture. Loose stone is scattered on the surface and may be associated with modern field clearance. (7)
Both mounds are clearly visible on aerial photographs from the 1940s onwards. On photographs taken on recent aerial reconnaissance flights the damage to the monuments is clear. (8-9)
A: SS 72533760; B: SS 72553757 )C: SS 72583754;D: SS 72743756 ) Tumuli (NR) (1)
A: "High Bray No 10", bowl barrow seen by Grinsell in April 1949. R Rainbird-Clarke, in 1938, records a ditch with causeway 3 paces wide on E, where traces of outer bank. Diameter 24 paces,height 3'.
B: "High Bray No 11", bowl barrow seen by Grinsell in April 1949. Diameter 13 paces, height 4'.
C: "High Bray No 12", bowl barrow seen by Grinsell in April 1949. Diameter 18 paces, height 2'.
D: "High Bray No 13", bowl barrow seen by Grinsell in April 1949. Diameter 23 paces, height 2 1/2'.(2)
Surrounded by shallow trench 5' wide lying within the margin of barrow. (Possibly not original (2).) Outer edge marked by circle of stones 67' in diameter, largest being 36" x 11 " x 9" high; 12 stones still extant. (3)
"A". A flat topped bowl barrow, 23.0 metres in diameter and 0.7 metres high with an 0.3 metre deep trench cut into the top of the slopes on the north side (see "D").
"B" SS 72543756. A bowl barrow up to 16.0 metres across and 1.0 metre high.
"C" SS 72563755. A spread bowl barrow up to 20.0 metres across and with an average height of 0.7 metres.
"D" SS72733755. A mutilated bowl barrow 28.0 metres in diameter and up to 0.7 metres high. An 0.3 metre deep trench has been dug into the top of the slope similar to "A" and SS 73 NW 5,'8'. Were these trenches dug to remove the retaining stones for road mending and hedging? Only a few of the stones noted by authority 3 are visible and these are at trench level. Published survey 1:2500 revised. (4)
Four barrows described above are clearly visible on aerial photographs as earthworks on moorland north of North Twitchen, Brayford. The Devonshire HER has identified a fifth barrow, while aerial survey undertaken in 2008 for Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme has identified a possible sixth. Possible ditches can be seen on aerial photographs as cropmarks surrounding barrows A and D, but these may be the trenches described above.
NB The Devon HER has numbered the barrows differently. The HER numbers for each barrow are as follows. A; 725, B;724, C;723 and D; 722. (5).