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HER Number:MDV17714
Name:Prehistoric barrow cemetery to west of Matford Barton, Exminster


Bronze Age barrow cemetery with at least nine barrows in a linear arrangement to the west of Matford Barton. Seven are periodically visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs taken between 1946 and 2010, and one of these also survives as an earthwork mound visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946 and on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2012.


Grid Reference:SX 921 891
Map Sheet:SX98NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishExminster
Ecclesiastical ParishALPHINGTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 447948
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX98NW/11
  • Old SAM County Ref: 10625
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX98NW31
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BARROW CEMETERY (Early Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 2200 BC to 700 BC)

Full description

Moon, K, 12/2013, Land South-West of Exeter, Alphington, Devon, Issue No. 2 (Report - Evaluation). SDV355653.

Ring ditches that were investigated in trenches 22 and 25 appear to be part of the Scheduled barrow cemetery previously identified on the slopes on either side of the Matford Brook. While no artefacts were recovered from either of the ring ditches, the discovery of redeposited cremated human bone at the base of the ditch in trench 22 supports the interpretation of that feature at least as a prehistoric burial mound. The cremation deposit seems to have been redeposited in the base of the ring ditch, possibly as a result of erosion or disturbance of the adjacent former barrow. No internal features or deposits were found inside either of the ring ditches. The barrow seems to have been eroded by ploughing to the extent that only the ditches survive.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1412, RAF/106G/UK/1412 RP 3252-3253 13-APR-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352504.

A pale curvilinear cropmark and an earthwork mound are visible.

Royal Air Force, 1963, RAF/543/2332, RAF/543/2332 2F21 0102-0103 26-JUL-1963 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354847.

Three pale circular cropmarks are visible.

Cambridge University Collection, 1975, CUC/BTS, 42-44 (Aerial Photograph). SDV119928.

Other details: 42 and 44 in HER.

Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photography, 1975, CUCAP BTS, CUCAP BTS043 03-JUL-1975 (Aerial Photograph). SDV358912.

Seven dark circular cropmaks are visible, two of which have dark central cropmarks. One is very much larger and less regular than the others. Transcription based on this source.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1982, SX98NW31 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343372.

1 Bowl barrow and cropmarks of ring ditches
2 Oblique air photographs show a circular ditch circa 40 metres in diameter with a central ditch circa 8 metres diameter.
3 Line of four ring ditches aligned noth-west to south-east extending circa 100 metres.
4 The cropmark area now lies within an enlarged pasture field. The largest crop mark is a sub-circular mound 41 metres east to west and 58.5 metres north to south and is up to 1.5 metres high on its southern side. It appears to have slipped or have been ploughed into the present shape.
5 Together with the other ring marks it may represent a large ditched bowl barrow.

Griffith, F. M., 1982, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV343370.

Between Chudleigh Road and Matford Barton. A large circular cropmark, circa 45 metres diameter, is shown on 1975 aerial photograph with central circular feature circa 10 metres diameter is recorded. Running west from this feature is a string of six ring ditches (all with continuous unbroken ditches) of varying diameters. This may be a ritual or cemetery site, in view of the fact that none of the features has an 'entrance'. The field is shown as 'Castle Park' on the Tithe Map, suggesting that at least the large feature at one time stood above ground level.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/AR, 7-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV340445.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DJ, 1-2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343377.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DK, 11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343378.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/S, 11-12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV338093.

Aerial photographs show another possible ring ditch at SX92158910, south of the large circular feature.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EZ, 6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV286402.

Griffith, F. M., 1989, DAP/NR, 14 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343379.

Department of Environment, 1991, Linear Round Barrow Cemetery at Castle Park, Alphington (Schedule Document). SDV343375.

Linear round barrow cemetery at Castle Park lies 200 metres west of Matford Barton near the brow of a slope which descends southwards to Matford Brook. It consists of a group of at least nine barrows in linear arrangement, extending for some 150 metres westward from the largest barrow. Apart from the largest barrow the cemetery is a flat site revealed by aerial photography. The eastern barrow is 44 metres by 40 metres in diameter by 1.5 metres high. Aerial photographs show it has a perimeter ditch and a central circular feature approximately 10 metres in diameter. This central feature is thought to be a burial. When ploughed the soil is stonier in this area than the rest of the field. The other eight barrows are visible from aerial photographs but cannot be traced on the ground. They appear as a closely but irregularly spaced linear group of ring ditches from circa 4 metres to circa 16 metres in diameter. Round barrow cemeteries date to the Bronze Age (2000 - 700BC) comprising rubble or earthen mounds covering single or multiple burials. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time and exhibit diversity of burial rite, plan and form.

Griffith, F. M., 1995, DAP/XU, 10 (Aerial Photograph). SDV319230.

Griffith, F. M. + Horner, B., 1997, DAP/ABP, 15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV338797.

Tyler, K., 2009, Archaeological Excavation at Matford Barton, Exminster, 1 (Report - Excavation). SDV343380.

Other details: Figure 1.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 112 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

Next Perspectives, 2010, Aerial Photography for Great Britain, Next Perspectives PGA Imagery SX9289 22-MAY-2010 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356259.

A pale curvilinear cropmark is visible.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 104 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 109 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Extensive significant problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2014-2015, East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV356883.

Seven of the prehistoric burial mounds are visible as circular cropmarks on aerial photographs, spanning the period between 1946 and 2010. Most are in a roughly linear alignment with one located over 200 metres to the south (recorded separately as MDV113020). Six appear to be small in size at between 7 and 15 metres diameter, the ring ditch circa 1 metre wide. The easternmost is largest, comprising a central cropmark 14 metres in diameter, but of variable tone, within a sub-circular ditched enclosure of 55 to 58 metres diameter and up to 4.5 metres wide. Within this easternmost feature an earthwork mound survives and is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946 and on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2012. The cropmarks are most clearly visible on aerial photographs taken in the summer of 1975, when they are least obscured by cropmarks of geological origin.

Devon County Council, 2019, Google Earth Aerial Photograph Pilot Project, GE68 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363341.

(SX 92187 89187) Enclosure, ring ditches and linears east of Waybrook Cottage. Barrow cemetery MDV17714 visible on the 2018 Google Earth aerial photograph. Enclosure, ring ditches including MDV113020 and linears including MDV105733 also visible. Bronze Age to Romano-British in date.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV119928Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1975. CUC/BTS. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 42-44.
SDV286402Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EZ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6.
SDV319230Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1995. DAP/XU. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10.
SDV338093Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/S. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 11-12.
SDV338797Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M. + Horner, B.. 1997. DAP/ABP. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 15.
SDV340445Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/AR. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-8.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 112.
SDV343370Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1982.
SDV343372Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1982. SX98NW31. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343375Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1991. Linear Round Barrow Cemetery at Castle Park, Alphington. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV343377Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DJ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-2.
SDV343378Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DK. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 11.
SDV343379Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/NR. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 14.
SDV343380Report - Excavation: Tyler, K.. 2009. Archaeological Excavation at Matford Barton, Exminster. Exeter Archaeology Report. 09.37. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 104.
SDV352504Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1412. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/106G/UK/1412 RP 3252-3253 13-APR-1946.
SDV354847Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1963. RAF/543/2332. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/543/2332 2F21 0102-0103 26-JUL-1963.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 109.
SDV355653Report - Evaluation: Moon, K. 12/2013. Land South-West of Exeter, Alphington, Devon, Issue No. 2. Oxford Archaeology. 5794. Digital + A4.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #82089 ]
SDV356259Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2010. Aerial Photography for Great Britain. Aerial Photography for Great Britain Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Imagery SX9289 22-MAY-2010.
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV358912Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photography. 1975. CUCAP BTS. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photography. Photograph (Paper). CUCAP BTS043 03-JUL-1975.

Associated Monuments

MDV113020Parent of: Ring Ditch South-West of Matford Barton (Monument)
MDV132613Related to: Barrow to west of Matford Barton, Exminster (Monument)
MDV10020Related to: Castle Park Field Name west of Matford Barton (Monument)
MDV17723Related to: Complex Ditched Enclosure on Knowle Hill (Monument)
MDV60783Related to: Linear feature north-west of Matford Barton, Exminster (Monument)
MDV58489Related to: Linear Feature south-west of Knowle Hill (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5459 - CREMATION (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)

Associated Events

  • EDV4558 - Excavation at Matford Barton, Exminster
  • EDV6352 - Land South-West of Exeter, Alphington (Ref: 5794)
  • EDV6530 - The East and Mid-Devon Rivers Catchment NMP project (Ref: ACD613)

Date Last Edited:Apr 1 2022 10:39AM