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HER Number:MDV2439
Name:Emmets Post Barrow north-west of Blackaton Cross


Emmets Post a prehistoric bowl barrow to the north-west of Blackaton Cross with a boundary stone set in the north side. The mound was destroyed by quarrying on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2018. The name derived from a boundary stone inserted into the barrow in the late 19th or early 20th century.


Grid Reference:SX 567 631
Map Sheet:SX56SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 439226
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56SE/28
  • Old SAM County Ref: 427
  • Old SAM Ref: 34876
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX56SE41

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BOWL BARROW (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Emmets Post (Tumulus)' shown on 19th century map with a 'Stone' shown on the north-east side.

Worth, R. H., 1890, 12th Report of the Barrow Committee, 50 (Article in Serial). SDV346007.

Worth, R. H., 1902, 21st Report of the Barrow Committee, 136 (Article in Serial). SDV20971.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190, RAF/106G/UK/1190 RS 4256-4257 27-FEB-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363067.

A mound is visible as an earthwork.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950 - 1951, SX56SE41 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV345999.

Emmets Post tumulus with a modern boundary stone. Turf covered cairn diameter 10 metres by 1.1 metres high.

Ministry of Works, 1960, Emmets Post Round Barrow (Schedule Document). SDV346000.

Emmets Post round barrow 33 foot diameter by 3 foot high set in moorland with a crater in the top. Composed of stones and turf. Granite boundary stone set on the north side. Other details: Monument 427.

West Air Photography, 1975, WAP 11722, WAP 11722/5 18-NOV-1975 (BT 1715) (Aerial Photograph). SDV363329.

A mound is visible as an earthwork.

Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 165 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

Site visited in July 1972. Cairn, with hollow towards centre, surmounted by boundary stone inscribed 'LM' and 'SM'. Diameter 10 metres, height 1 metre.

Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV345762.

Department of Environment Field Monument Warden site visit 4th July 1983.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, SX56SE (Cartographic). SDV336987.

Visible and recorded.

Bayer, O. J., 2000, Archaeological Recording at Emmet's Post Round Barrow, Shaugh Prior (Report - Watching Brief). SDV346003.

Archaeological recording undertaken in 2000 prior to the construction of the protective buttress revealed that circa 1 metre of the base of the monument had been removed during widening of the quarry haul road. No artefacts or features of archaeological significance were identified.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2000, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV346002.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for the construction of a buttress against the exposed face on the north-west side of the monument.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2002, Bowl Barrow at Emmets Post (Schedule Document). SDV346001.

This monument includes a bowl barrow of Late Neolithic to Bronze Age date, located on a level hilltop with wide views across the Upper Plym Valley to the north west. The barrow survives as a low mound measuring 12 metres in diameter and up to 1.5 metres high, with a 2 metre wide, 4 metres long and 0.4 metres deep oval depression in the centre, most likely representing excavation in antiquity. Although no longer visible at ground level, a quarry ditch, some 2 metres wide, will encircle the mound, surviving as a buried feature. A 19th century boundary stone, Listed Grade II, inserted into the south side of the mound bears the letters 'SM' on its west side and 'LM' on its east, denoting the boundary between the setts of the Shaugh Moor and Lee Moor china clay companies. Bowl barrows are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age (2400-1500 BC). Despite partial early excavation and slight damage to its north-west side by a clayworks road the barrow survives well. Its mound may contain remains of a burial, while buried ditches will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the barrow and the landscape in which it was constructed. Other details: Monument 34876.

Passmore, A. J., 2003, Archaeological Recording during Drilling at Emmet's Post, Lee Moor (Report - Watching Brief). SDV346005.

Archaeological recording was undertaken of two exploratory drill holes at 'Lee Moor China Clay Works'and a pit was recorded.

Steinmetzer, M., 2009, Archaeological Evaluation at Headon South Tip and Emmet's Post, Lee Moor, Devon (Report - Evaluation). SDV347908.

A round bowl barrow, probably Early Bronze Age in date. The name 'Emmet's post' derives from a boundry stone inserted into the barrow late 19th or early 20th century. It is a scheduled ancient monument.

National Monuments Record, 2010, 439226 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346004.

Bronze Age round barrow, 12 metres in diameter and up to 1.5 metres high, of mainly earth construction with a half dozen spaced stones protruding from the perimeter suggesting a retaining circle. There is a large hollow in the centre and to one side is a Post Medieval boundary post demarcating the boundary between Lee and Shaugh Moors. The barrow is sharp sided and appears to be mainly of earth construction with a half dozen spaced stones protruding from the perimeter suggesting a retaining circle.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

'Tumulus' at 'Emmets Post' shown on modern mapping.

NERC, 2013, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: South Devon to Dartmoor, LIDAR SX5663 Tellus DTM 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013 (Cartographic). SDV361514.

A mound is visible as an earthwork.

Bayer, O., Simmonds, A., + Welsh, K., 2017, Excavation of an Early Bronze Age Round Barrow at Emmets Post, Shaugh, Prior, Dartmoor (Report - Excavation). SDV360862.

Oxford Archaeology carried out an excavation of an early Bronze Age barrow at Emmets Post, Dartmoor in advance of its destruction by quarrying. The investigation elucidated the sequence of construction of the monument, which comprised a primary turf mound and a central cairn that were subsequently buried beneath a larger secondary turf mound with a stone kerb. No human remains were found, although this is not unusual on Dartmoor, where unburnt bone does not survive due to acidity of the soil.
During September and early October 2014, the complete excavation of the round barrow at Emmets Post, in the parish of Shaugh Prior on the south-west edge of Dartmoor (NGR SX 5678 6320, Fig. 1). The mound had hitherto survived in a precarious situation, perched on a thin strip of land between two china clay quarries, but this piece of land was to be destroyed as the quarries were merged as part of an agreement under which Sibelco Europe Ltd, the operator of the quarry, relinquished its extraction and tipping rights in adjacent archaeologically sensitive areas. This entailed the complete destruction of the barrow, which was a Scheduled Monument (List Entry 1020566, legacy ID SM 34876), and so Historic England required that it should be excavated in its entirety in advance of quarrying works in order to mitigate its loss by the creation of a complete record.
The monument comprised a turf mound with a deep oval depression in the centre that was thought
to result from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. It took its name from a boundary stone
demarcating the boundary between Lee Moor and Shaugh Moor, which was set into the southern
edge of the mound. The strip of land on which the barrow stood lay at c 290 metres aOD on a small
fragment of open moorland that survived between Lee Moor and Shaugh Lake quarries. It occupied the crest of a gentle north-east-facing slope overlooking the valley of the Blackabrook, a tributary of the River Plym. Although partially obscured by china clay working, the site had extensive views across the south-western and southern edge of Dartmoor to the north, Plymouth Sound to the south-west, and the South Hams to the south and south-east.
Archaeological recording was undertaken on the site by Exeter Archaeology following accidental damage to the north-west edge of the mound by the construction of a quarry haul road. The exposed section across the edge of the mound was cleaned and recorded. It was estimated that approximately 1m of the base of the mound had been removed by the road. Other than the edge of the mound, no archaeological features or finds were recorded. In 2009 Exeter Archaeology carried out an archaeological evaluation to the south and east of Emmets Post barrow in an area bounded by Shaugh Lake and Lee Moor quarries and the former Cadover Bridge to Cornwood road. Archaeological features were limited to 19th or 20th century prospection pits.
An archaeological evaluation of the site was carried out in 2011 by AC Archaeology in order to provide information for Historic England (then English Heritage) to inform a decision on the granting of Scheduled Monument Consent for its complete excavation. The principal aim of the excavation was to determine whether the earthwork at Emmets Post represented a prehistoric barrow or was the result of more recent mining activity. A single trench was hand-excavated from the centre point of the monument to beyond its southern edge. The investigation confirmed that Emmets Post was a prehistoric barrow and identified a series of three sandy-silt soil layers thought to be the remains of the original construction. Loosely positioned kerbstones were identified around the inner and outer breaks of slope and on top of the lowest exposed soil deposits. The inner arrangement of kerbstones appeared to be coursed and the presence of a large stone on top of the upper mound deposit as well as the location of potential stone tumble within lower deposits was thought to suggest that the stone
kerbing was originally more extensive and perhaps had a cap. A linear feature identified during
excavation was not thought to be evidence for a ring ditch surrounding the barrow, and was most
likely to represent another phase of archaeological activity. No datable artefacts and little palaeoenvironmental material from a single bulk sample were recovered from the evaluation. Photographs taken immediately prior to the evaluation and during the late 1990s show substantial areas of disturbance to the southern edge of the barrow mound.
Prior to excavation the barrow comprised a grassed mound measuring c 10 metres in diameter with a
maximum height of 1 metres. It was irregular in form with steep sides and a large central depression c
3 metres in diameter and 0.5 metres deep. In addition to the eponymous Emmets Post, a single large granite fragment was visible on the northern edge of the mound. The position of the AC Archaeology
evaluation trench was visible as a slight depression in the turf on the southern edge of the
The barrow mound comprised three principal construction phases, comprising a primary turf mound, a stone cairn and a secondary turf mound (Fig. 4). No pre-barrow features were encountered cutting the natural deposit (506) beneath the mound.
The initial phase of barrow building consisted of a low flat-topped turf platform that was overlain by a central cairn. The lower deposit, which extended throughout most of the trench, was interpreted during excavation as a buried soil, but micromorphological evidence has since demonstrated that it was in fact part of the mound. The layer was 0.15 metres thick and was overlain by a more substantial deposit of mound material that measured c 10 metres in diameter and 0.3 metres thick, the two being separated by a thin lens of peaty material that was identified in the micromorphology column but not during excavation. This material comprised a relatively compact, dark grey/black, organic rich, silty clay with very occasional lenses of fine granite gravel. It is suggested that these gravel lenses are the weathered surface of the underlying bedrock adhering to the base of turves as they were stripped. As such it is suggested that the platform was constructed from relatively thick, peat-rich turves. The sub-oval cairn that was 0.4 metres thick and encompassed a slightly amorphous area 3.7 x 3 metres in extent. It was composed almost exclusively of quartz tourmaline fragments with much smaller quantities of granite and quartz. The cairn clearly overlay the primary platform but some of the larger blocks had settled into surface of the layer platform.
A large sub-circular depression (511, Figs 4, 6 and 8), over 2 metres in diameter and 0.4 metres deep, in the top of the barrow mound is considered to be evidence of an undocumented post-medieval antiquarian excavation, and most of the prehistoric pottery recovered from the mound came from its fill (510). The area of disturbance included a deposit containing a number of small quartz fragments and fragmentary sherds of prehistoric pottery (503), which occurred only within the eastern quadrant of the excavation and did not appear in the two principal sections across the mound. Also within the backfill of the excavation was a substantial slab of quartz tourmaline (508), cracked into three pieces but with overall dimensions of c. 4.5 x 3.3 x 0.5m, which may have originally been a capstone over the cairn. A stone spread (509) on top of the mound is likely to represent upcast material from cairn 502 that was generated by this event. (See report for full details).
The assemblage consists of 60 sherds. The material is very fragmentary with many of the sherds only crumbs. A few sherds are only moderately abraded but most are highly abraded, probably due to bioturbation and disturbance in the cairn. The sherds appear to come from only two vessels, with a few rather finer sherds possibly from a third vessel.
The fabric is gabbroic, made from clay from the Lizard in Cornwall. The fabric of both vessels is essentially the same with gabbroic clay from the same source. The high degree of weathering of the
included rock fragments, similar to that of the feldspar, suggests that they are an original component of the clay.
Two small pieces of worked flint and two pieces of burnt flint were recovered during processing of
bulk soil samples from the secondary barrow mound (504). Both pieces of worked flint are undiagnostic microdebitage with maximum dimensions of 18.3mm and 7.1mm respectively. Both
are struck from a translucent mid-grey flint. Neither piece retains any cortical surfaces. The two
pieces of burnt flint have maximum dimensions of 19.5mm and 6.9mm respectively and appear to
be refitting fragments of the same small light grey pebble. No naturally occurring flint exists on or close to the current site, implying that this material has been transported over a considerable distance. The closest source of pebble flint is likely to be the south Devon coast at least 10km to the south. The closest known sources of nodular flint are the remnant clay-with-flints capping on Haldon Hill, 25km to the north-east, or even further afield on the Black Down Hills in east Devon. It is unclear whether this material was derived from activity associated with the construction of the barrow mound or was incorporated accidentally as part of the turf used in the barrow mound.
Ten pieces of stone were retained during excavation. Three large adjoining pieces of hornfels slate
formed a distinctive slab (508). No obvious flaking was found to the main surfaces, but the edges had clearly been struck to form the clean lines apparent in some areas. Two further pieces of the same lithology were found in the cairn deposit. These had also been shaped and in one, the veins in the stone that enabled the slab to split naturally were readily apparent.
A single flake of impregnated tourmalinised granite ‘schorl rock’ from the cairn is the most
distinctive find (Fig. 11). It has two ventral faces, showing that it was struck from a face that had
already been struck. It does not show any signs of further working. The piece is of particular
interest because struck flakes of stones other than flint are rarely reported in this part of the country
and the author knows of no other local parallels. It is not of identical lithology to the large slab and
was thus not a product of the slab's shaping. Schorl rock occurs at the margin of the granite, and
thus around the edges of Dartmoor. The tourmalinised slate would be just outside the granite
Twelve sub-samples taken from monoliths 102 and 103 were submitted for palynological analysis,
comprising three sub-samples from the layer beneath the monument. The objective of the analysis was to confirm whether the turves used for the construction of the round barrow were all taken from a similar location and to determine whether detailed sub-sampling through 507 showed any indication of repeated pollen profiles, which could be interpreted as representing individual turves. The buried soil may provide information regarding the local and regional vegetation at or possibly before the time of construction of the barrow.
The assemblages are dominated by pollen of shrub and heath taxa, especially hazel-type (Corylus
avellana-type) and heather (Calluna). Tree pollen present includes common alder (Alnus) and relatively common oak (Quercus), with occurrences of birch (Betula), pine (Pinus), elm (Ulmus),
and lime (Tilia). Herb pollen is largely dominated by grasses (Poaceae), but other taxa also occur consistently, including dandelion-type (Taraxacum-type), ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata), cinquefoils (Potentilla-type) and daisy-type (Asteraceae). Spores of bracken (Pteridium) and polypody ferns (Polypodium vulgare) are present in all the sub-samples. The pollen assemblage suggests a mosaic of palaeoenvironments, dominated by hazel-type scrub woodland with possibly regionally developed alder woodlands in damper areas, and mixed woodland stands of oak, birch, elm and lime on better soils. There is evidence also for heather moorland, and some open grassland areas supporting a herb population. The herb flora, comprising pollen of plants such as docks/sorrels (Rumex), ribwort plantain, pollen of Apiaceae, devil's bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) and a single cereal-type pollen (if not attributed to pollen from a wild grass (Andersen et al. 1979)) may suggest some use of the landscape for pastoral and possibly arable use. Increased values for microcharcoal may suggest burning of woodland trees, possibly oak, alder and, in particular, hazel-type, as the pollen curves for these taxa decrease through the deposit. Bracken thrives in woods, heaths and moors and is often dominant over large areas, usually on acid dry soils.
Eleven soil samples (0.5–70 litres in vol.) were collected and assessed for wood charcoal and charred plant remains. Sampled contexts included the buried soil, the primary and secondary mounds, and the central deposit. The samples with charred plant remains came from the secondary mound and central deposit. The aims of the analysis were to confirm the range of plant remains and taxa present, and to examine how this material relates to the barrow and local area. There were very few charred plant
remains. The flots had large quantities of modern plant rootlets, indicating recent disturbance of the barrow deposits. Between 20 and 74 charcoal fragments were identified per sample. (See report for full details).
A total of 16 radiocarbon measurements are now available from Emmet’s Post. The scientific dating programme has highlighted the fact that the deposits contain both residual and intrusive material and therefore deriving a robust chronology for the construction of the primary and secondary mounds is not achievable. (See report for further details).

Google, 2019, Google Earth Pro, EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 08-AUG-2015 ACCESSED 20-NOV-2019 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363088.

The mound has been stripped for excavation.

Google, 2019, Google Earth Pro, EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 22-JUN-2018 ACCESSED 20-NOV-2019 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363088.

The mound has been destroyed.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2019-2020, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP) (Interpretation). SDV362982.

A mound is visible as an earthwork approximately 10m in diameter on aerial photographs of 1946 onwards and visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2013 at Emmets Post, Shaugh Moor. The mound is probably the remains of a barrow of Bronze Age date.
No evidence for an enclosing ring ditch was identified.
The mound was visible stripped for excavation on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2015.
The mound was destroyed by quarrying on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2018.

Bayer, O. J., 2020, Historic England Research Issue 15: Excavating an Early Bronze Age Barrow (Website). SDV363696.

In 2014 Oxford Archaeology (funded by Historic England and mineral company Silbelco), undertook the topographic survey and full excavation of Emmets Post barrow in advance of china clay quarry expansion. This was followed by a programme of post-excavation research funded by Historic England.
The full excavation of Emmets Post has given archaeologists a rare opportunity to reveal the complexity of one of Dartmoor’s Bronze Age funerary monuments. It has also enabled us to consider its post-medieval afterlife both as focus for antiquarian excavation and as a boundary marker. Information gained here will enable a richer understanding of hundreds of similar barrows on Dartmoor and beyond.

Excavation revealed that the barrow comprised four elements. The earliest consisted of a low, turf-built, flat-topped platform. Set centrally on this platform was a small stone cairn. Fragments of two Early Bronze Age Trevisker ware vessels (typical Early Bronze Age pottery from the area) and several quartz blocks were found within, or close to, the cairn. No human remains were recovered from the cairn. A more substantial turf mound covered both the cairn and most of the turf platform. The fragmentary remains of a probable kerb of granite blocks surrounded the base of the mound.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV20971Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1902. 21st Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 34. A5 Paperback + Digital. 136.
SDV273224Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 165.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336987Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. SX56SE. Air Photographs Unit. Map (Paper).
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV345762Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV345999Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950 - 1951. SX56SE41. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346000Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1960. Emmets Post Round Barrow. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV346001Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2002. Bowl Barrow at Emmets Post. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV346002Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2000. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV346003Report - Watching Brief: Bayer, O. J.. 2000. Archaeological Recording at Emmet's Post Round Barrow, Shaugh Prior. Exeter Archaeology Report. 00.39. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346004National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 439226. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV346005Report - Watching Brief: Passmore, A. J.. 2003. Archaeological Recording during Drilling at Emmet's Post, Lee Moor. Exeter Archaeology Report. 4904. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346007Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1890. 12th Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 22. Hardback Volume + Digital. 50.
SDV347908Report - Evaluation: Steinmetzer, M.. 2009. Archaeological Evaluation at Headon South Tip and Emmet's Post, Lee Moor, Devon. Exeter Archaeology Report. 09.109. A4 Stapled.
SDV360862Report - Excavation: Bayer, O., Simmonds, A., + Welsh, K.. 2017. Excavation of an Early Bronze Age Round Barrow at Emmets Post, Shaugh, Prior, Dartmoor. Oxford Archaeology. 6057. Digital.
SDV361514Cartographic: NERC. 2013. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: South Devon to Dartmoor. Digital. LIDAR SX5663 Tellus DTM 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013. [Mapped feature: #84618 ]
SDV362982Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2019-2020. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP). Historic England Research Report. Digital.
SDV363067Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/106G/UK/1190 RS 4256-4257 27-FEB-1946.
SDV363088Aerial Photograph: Google. 2019. Google Earth Pro. Various. Digital. EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 08-AUG-2015 ACCESSED 20-NOV-2019.
SDV363329Aerial Photograph: West Air Photography. 1975. WAP 11722. West Air Photography. Photograph (Paper). WAP 11722/5 18-NOV-1975 (BT 1715).
SDV363696Website: Bayer, O. J.. 2020. Historic England Research Issue 15: Excavating an Early Bronze Age Barrow. Historic England Research Issue 15. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV20150Related to: CAIRN in the Parish of Shaugh Prior (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7613 - Excavation of an Early Bronze Age Round Barrow at Emmets Post, Shaugh Prior, Dartmoor (Ref: 6057)
  • EDV8098 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey, Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (Ref: ACD2040)
  • EDV5318 - Evaluation at Crownhill Down Barrow Cemetery and Emmets Post Round Barrow
  • EDV5356 - Archaeological Evaluation at Emmets Post, Lee Moor

Date Last Edited:May 15 2020 3:23PM