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Barrow / Cairn Cemetery

Nearest Town:Williton (1km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   ST074417 / Sheet: 181
Latitude:51° 9' 59.31" N
Longitude:   3° 19' 28.41" W

Added by Rhiannon

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Visited 19.7.11
One of those sites where I pulled up and realised I had been here before!
This time however the grass was low so it was easier to see the Barrow marked on the O/S map. The Barrow is visible from the field gate next to the large lay by.
It is approximately 1 metre high x 20 metres wide.
I disturbed a rabbit whilst walking across the field.

The site no longer appears to be a 'nature reserve'.
Posted by CARL
26th July 2011ce

Visited 3.7.10
Very easy to visit. Opposite Danefield school on the B3191 is a large layby (presumably for parents to park whilst doing the school run?). Next to the parking area is a metal field gate. The barrow can be seen easily from this gate. Quite a large diameter (10 metres?) but only about 1 metre high. The grass in the field was waist high with plenty of nettles. I couldn't see any other barrows in the surrounding fields - possibly due to the height of the grass? The O/S map only shows one barrow. There is a sign on the gate stating 'no public access - nature reserve'.
Posted by CARL
5th July 2010ce
Edited 5th July 2010ce


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A mile inland, close to Wiliton, is a field, or rather several fields, known as Battlegore, traditionally, as its name implies, the scene of a battle. In them are the remains of three large mounds, though one is now ploughed nearly level with the field, and another has been reduced by one-half by a hedgerow. The largest is close to the road.

From time immemorial the tale has been handed down that here the Danes fought with the Wessex men. A tradition, also unfortunately dating from time immemorial, states that much armour and many weapons have been discovered in these fields. But who found them, and what became of them, is as unknown as their period and fashion. The only weapon taken from the spot that I have seen is a remarkably fine bronze celt which would go some way to show that it was a British rather than a Danish battleground.

Collinson refers to 'several cells composed of flat stones, and containing relics,' as having been found in these tumuli, to which he gives the name of Grab-barrows. From this it would appear that they were chambered tumuli. I venture to think, however, that he is mistaken, except perhaps with regard to the mound now nearly levelled, inasmuch as neither of the existing barrows have been properly explored.

Close to the barrow near the road are two enormous stones, the one lying on its side, the other leaning against the hedge, as well as a third and smaller block, nearly concealed by brambles. As there are no similar blocks in the vicinity, they must have been brought here for some definite purpose, perhaps to mark the grave of some notable chieftain. Or, perchance, they are, as certain antiquaries opine, the supports of a British cromlech. The local story is that they were cast there from the Quantocks by the devil and a giant, who had engaged in a throwing match. The print of Satan's hand still marks the leaning stone.

This stone was upright some forty or fifty years since. It was toppled against the hedge by some young men anxious to test the truth of the legend that it was immovable.
From'An exploration of Exmoor and the hill country of West Somerset' by John Lloyd Warden Page (1890).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th December 2011ce

One night during one of their last incursions, the Danes raided and burnt Watchet, and then they streamed inland plundering and burning as they went. The Saxons managed to ambush them at what is now known as Battlegore - many were killed though some escaped back to their ships. The mound at the site has long been called the burial place of the Danes.

According to Berta Lawrence, in 'Somerset Legends' (1973).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th August 2005ce

This is what happened after the episode at the Whit stones. It was some time later, after the Devil had dried out a bit, but he was still feeling embarrassed and angry. He and the Giant met up on the hill above West Quantoxhead for the next round of their throwing competition. He had his eyes to the ground to find a suitable stone when before he could react, the giant had picked his up and thrown it right over to Battlegore, six miles away. "It'll be your turn now," the giant said.

Well Old Nick was dancing with rage because he'd missed his chance to cheat. And perhaps his temper made his hand shake becuase when he'd thrown his stone, the giant's was further off. "Now," says the giant, "It's your promise to go away from round here, and never come back no more. But as no one don't trust you, I'll make sure." And he picked up the devil by his tail again and waded out into the Severn Channel until he was up to his armpits. Then he gave him a good swing, three times round his head, and let go. He probably hit the water somewhere near the West Indies - wherever, he had a good long swim back. He's back now of course, but you won't see him in Somerset because he doesn't want to bump into the giant.

(retold from Ruth Tongue's version heard in Minehead in the 50s, in 'Folktales of England' Briggs/Tongue 1965)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th August 2005ce

I've read something a bit confusing about the remains of the prehistoric tomb being connected with a 10th Century battle, but according to legend they were thrown here in a contest between the Devil and a giant as mentioned in Rhiannon's post. On the leaning stone the Devil’s handprint can apparently be seen but I've not yet been to this site.... pure joy Posted by pure joy
21st March 2003ce
Edited 21st March 2003ce


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The map only shows one 'tumulus' but actually there are three round barrows here and some stones. The round barrows are, as you'd expect, Bronze Age, but it may be that the stones come from an earlier Neolithic long-barrow. The area contains (judging by the map) the confluence of two little streams - if that's of any significance.

According to L and R Adkins's field guide to Somerset Archaeology, there are two red sandstone stones nearly 2m long, and two smaller ones. The site was excavated in 1931, when they found what could have been socket holes for the larger stones, and a number of smaller stones - so perhaps it could have been the entrance to a long barrow, though no burials were found here. A female urn cremation was found in one of the round barrows.

Past names for the site have been Grabburrows ('grave barrows'), Gradborough, and Bytelgore.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd February 2003ce
Edited 30th December 2011ce