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HER Number:MDV35903
Name:Bow Henge


Class II henge recorded as crop mark during aerial reconnaissance in 1984. Oval in shape, circa 60-70 metres by 40-50 metres, with entrances in east and west sides. Field walking produced 826 pieces of flint and chert with a high ratio of arrowheads.


Grid Reference:SS 707 016
Map Sheet:SS70SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBow
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBOW

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SS70SW29
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS70SW/68
  • Old SAM County Ref: 1026
  • Old SAM Ref: 28633

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HENGE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2201 BC (Between))

Full description

Griffith, F. M., DAP/GF, 3A-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337384.

National Monuments Record, SS7001, 1-2,4-5,9-10,12-21,23-33,36-50 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337390.

NMR, SS70SW29 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV337388.

National Monuments Record, SS7107, 2-3,13-14 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337391.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/AE, 4-7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337378.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/BE, 1-2A, 10-11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV274725.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/BF, 4-7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV267543.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/BN, 6-7A (Aerial Photograph). SDV267547.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DC, 1-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337382.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DF, 9-12A (Aerial Photograph). SDV337383.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, A Nemeton in Devon?, 121-4 (Article in Serial). SDV224842.

The site is located in the centre of a concentration of '-Nymet' place-names as well as other ceremonial features. The whole complex appears to represent a focal area of ritual activity. Although finds are Neolithic it is probable that the henge survived into Iron Age and Roman times, for traces of the external bank are even now faintly apparent. Other details: Plate 24.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, Some Newly Discovered Ritual Monuments in Mid Devon, 310-315 (Article in Serial). SDV278864.

During aerial reconnaissance in 1984 the cropmark of a class II henge was identified by F. M. Griffith near Hampson Cross. Overall dimensions circa 70m east-west by 40m north-south. Entrances to west and east, with a large pit at the north east ditch terminal. Very faint traces of external bank visible as parching. Within the henge, an irregular ovoid of about 19 large deep pits was seen as cropmarks. The site lies on a low spur, and a flattened area can be seen on the ground. The first class II henge west of Dorchester, (unless Castilly, Bodmin is one).
During fieldwalking of the site, by members of the Devon Archaeological Society in 1984, 826 flint and chert pieces were picked up. Some Mesolithic pieces, including four microliths, were found, but overall the assemblage was consonant with a later Neolithic date and the high ration of arrowheads to scrapers reinforces the interpretation of the site as 'special' or ceremonial.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/IY, 2,2A,3,4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV234652.

Harding, A. F. + Lee, G. E., 1987, Henge Monuments and Related Sites (Article in Serial). SDV337392.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, DAP/KU, 5, 5A (Aerial Photograph). SDV53186.

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 25 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Griffith, F. M., 1989, DAP/LN, 4-5 (Aerial Photograph). SDV53187.

Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/QA, 10 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337396.

Simpson, 1991, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV337376.

Condition stable. Field under regular cultivation. Other details: Photo AA16.

Horner, B., 1992, DAP/VC, 20-22 (Aerial Photograph). SDV122366.

Gerrard, S., 1996, 139588 (Un-published). SDV337377.

Henge forming the focal part of a complex of ritual and funerary monuments located around the village of Bow. It also lies within an area of Devon which has concentrations of the placename 'Nymet', thought to have some Celtic sacred implication. The henge itself is oval and measures 60m by 50m across the outer edges of the ditch and encloses an area of 45m by 40m. Traces of an outer bank have also been recorded on the aerial photo taken in September 1984 although dimensions for these were unclear. The typology of the features present at the henge have enabled its identification as a class II henge. The henge is seen to have two opposing entrances, one on each of the east and west sides, although the one to the east is considerably narrower owing to the presence of a terminal pit at the east end of the north ditch. The orientation of the entrances lies just west south west to east north east of a true east-west line. Within the henge an irregular ovoid of approx 19 pits were identified from the aerial photos, which seem to enclose an area of 30m east-west and 17m north-south. The presence of a flattened platform up to 0.2m high is visible on the ground to confirm its location. Fieldwalking in the area of the henge has produced 826 flint and chert pieces with a high ratio of arrowheads and scrapers, indicative of a late Neolithic date.

Miller, A., 1996, Untitled Source (Interpretation). SDV338628.

Horner, B., 1997, DAP/ABM, 9, 10 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337386.

Griffith, F. M. + Horner, B., 1997, DAP/ABQ, 1-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337387.

Bath Archaeological Trust, 2003, Planning Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief of Bow (Report - Watching Brief). SDV337397.

Griffiths, F. M. + Wilkes, E., 2005, Bow Henge: Geophysical Survey Greyscale Plot (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV361031.

Geophysical survey image of Bow Henge. A long linear feature, possibly a footpath south-east of the henge, appears to respect the boundary of the henge. This feature may be visible on the 2010 getmappig aerial photos. Entrance on the west side of the henge is very prominent when compared to the east entrance. Some internal features may also be present. (Comments made by Marrina Neophytou).

Morris, B., 2019, Hampson Farm, Bow, Mid Devon: Evaluation (Report - Evaluation). SDV363099.

South West Archaeology Ltd. was commissioned to undertake an archaeological evaluation across a Scheduled Monument at Bow in Mid Devon containing a Class II Henge and a pair of Prehistoric enclosures. The programme of works was designed to record the thickness of the topsoil and subsoil, to assess the current state of the monuments in order to draw up an appropriate management strategy for the site, and to facilitate long-term monitoring of their condition.

The principal purpose of this evaluation was to determine the depth of topsoil and subsoil across the site and, insofar as was possible, determine whether recent ploughing had damaged the uppermost level of the archaeological features revealed. In addition to this functional purpose it represented an opportunity to investigate and characterise archaeological features of national importance that had hitherto only been investigated via non-intrusive methods.

The henge ditch was determined to be much more substantial than the cropmarks and geophysical survey would have suggested: even accounting for the fact it was not trenched at 90° to the feature it is likely to be eight to ten metres wide. The number and density of features encountered outside the henge is also something of a surprise; this is most clearly demonstrated in Trench 2, but the fact that Test Pit 4 may have clipped the corner of a feature to the south of the henge (and therefore one under the henge bank?) would imply the distribution also extends to the south. While it is entirely possible some of these features are natural (i.e. burrows, tree-throws etc.), clear, identifiable features were present and this implies that the henge at Bow has more in common with the rather better understood monuments in Wessex than previously appreciated. The absence of dating evidence is, however, acknowledged in this context. The density of features would imply the geophysical survey and cropmark evidence underestimates the archaeological potential of the site.

On the eastern part of the site, Trenches 3 and 4 revealed the ditch of the larger enclosure and several internal and external features. It is possible that the enclosure was bivallate but this is not corroborated by the geophysical survey or the cropmark evidence. The trench clipped the edge of what may prove to be a Bronze Age sunken-featured structure, together with several other probable features. Trench 4 was difficult to work and interpret due to the ingress of water: the ditch of the smaller enclosure was not identified, but several postholes and a small pit were identified towards the southern end of the trench. Despite the absence of excavation, stratified finds have been recovered and these afford some measure of dating evidence. In addition, the opportunity was taken to recover charcoal from the surface of two features, a pit in Trench 1 and a posthole in Trench 4 to set aside for scientific dating in the future.

40+ features were identified in the trenches, including a surprisingly large number of features outside and to the north of the henge and across the fills of its ditch. None of these features could be fully characterised as they were not excavated. A limited but useful volume of stratified archaeological material was recovered. In particular, the work appears to demonstrate that the henge did not exist in isolation and that there is an intriguing post-abandonment narrative to the monument.

Relatively few finds were recovered due to the sampling strategy employed. None of the features identified were excavated, and thus finds came from the monitoring and the cleaning of the sections and bases of the trenches and test pits. Surface finds were also collected where observed. The post-medieval assemblage contained both North Devon and South Somerset medieval and post-medieval pottery, together with white refined earthenware and 19th-20th century vessel glass. The assemblage of Prehistoric pottery was very small, an undiagnostic but possibly Gabbroic fabric. Interestingly, most of the pottery associated with the monuments appears to be early medieval (i.e. Saxon-Norman or slightly later) granitic fabrics rather than Prehistoric; however, all these sherds were highly abraded and largely undiagnostic, and it is possible they represent fine earlier Neolithic fabrics . The largest single class of material was flint, some of which was stratified, but largely comprised of waste flakes. There was one clear blade and a broken core, but little to provide closer dating than Neolithic-Early Bronze Age. Several rounded granite pebbles, some broken, from Trench 3 are of interest given the location of the site relative to Dartmoor (pot boilers?).

The evaluation has fulfilled the principal objective of the work. It has determined that the soils covering the site, while fairly shallow, do include the minimum sustainable buffer required to resume arable cultivation across most of the site with the exception of the north-east corner of the field. The COSMIC assessment of the field would indicate the site to be at low risk of damage, again excepting the north-east corner, where the clearest examples of plough damage were recorded. It is therefore recommended that, if cultivation were to resume, the north-east corner of the field is either excluded from cultivation or else tillage methods are modified to reduce the impact. Furthermore, the gateway here could be closed to reduce erosion through vehicle traffic.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV122366Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1992. DAP/VC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 20-22.
SDV224842Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. A Nemeton in Devon?. Antiquity. 59. Photocopy. 121-4.
SDV234652Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/IY. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2,2A,3,4.
SDV267543Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/BF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4-7.
SDV267547Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/BN. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6-7A.
SDV274725Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/BE. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-2A, 10-11.
SDV278864Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. Some Newly Discovered Ritual Monuments in Mid Devon. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 51. A4 Stapled. 310-315.
SDV337376Site Visit: Simpson. 1991. Devon Post-Reconnaissance Fieldwork Project. Not Applicable.
SDV337377Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 1996. 139588. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown.
SDV337378Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/AE. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4-7.
SDV337382Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-4.
SDV337383Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9-12A.
SDV337384Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. DAP/GF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3A-6.
SDV337386Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1997. DAP/ABM. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9, 10.
SDV337387Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M. + Horner, B.. 1997. DAP/ABQ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-8.
SDV337388National Monuments Record Database: NMR. SS70SW29. NMR Index. Unknown.
SDV337390Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. SS7001. NMR Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 1-2,4-5,9-10,12-21,23-33,36-50.
SDV337391Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. SS7107. NMR Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 2-3,13-14.
SDV337392Article in Serial: Harding, A. F. + Lee, G. E.. 1987. Henge Monuments and Related Sites. British Archaeological Reports. 175. A4 Bound.
SDV337396Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/QA. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10.
SDV337397Report - Watching Brief: Bath Archaeological Trust. 2003. Planning Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief of Bow. Bath Archaeological Trust Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV338628Interpretation: Miller, A.. 1996. RCHME Aerial Photograph Primary Recording Project. Digital.
SDV361031Report - Geophysical Survey: Griffiths, F. M. + Wilkes, E.. 2005. Bow Henge: Geophysical Survey Greyscale Plot. Bournemouth University. Digital.
SDV53186Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. DAP/KU. Devon Aerial Photograph. 5, 5A.
SDV53187Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LN. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4-5.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 25.

Associated Monuments

MDV58648Related to: Angle-Backed Bladelet (Find Spot)
MDV35899Related to: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Bow (Monument)
MDV56737Related to: Linear ditch and bank, Bow (Monument)
MDV21137Related to: Nemeto Statio, North Tawton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7549 - Geophysical Survey: Bow Henge, field to west of Hampson Cross, Bow
  • EDV8166 - Evaluation: Hampson Farm, Bow, Mid Devon (Ref: 190515)

Date Last Edited:Oct 17 2019 9:53AM