Chanter’s Barrow

This is the easternmost barrow of the eleven Chapman Barrows which we have named Chanter’s after the the Reverend Chanter who carried out an excavation over 100 years ago and published some drawings at the time. On site it is easy to see where the trench was driven into the mound, but it is not clear what is slumping, what is backfill and what is original mound.

There are lots of questions about this site and an excavation would help to answer them but that is a very big undertaking that requires lots of funding and permissions so a non invasive geophysical survey was carried out on two of the Chapman Barrow group and Longstone Barrow.

This work was led by Jimmy Adcock for GSB Prospection over two fieldwork seasons (Apr-May 2014 and Apr 2015). Scheduled Monument Consent was obtained for this work as all of the barrows subject to survey are scheduled. Volunteers assisted in carrying out three geophysical techniques: Magnetometry, Resistivity and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). This survey work represented the first time that GPR had been carried out on Exmoor’s archaeology and presented outstanding results, particularly on Chanter’s Barrow.

The survey of Chanter’s Barrow recorded a ring-shaped anomaly approximately 25m in diameter, albeit with a slight elongation to the southwest. Direct correlation between all three techniques [Magnetometer, Resistance and GPR] suggest this to be the original ring cairn beneath the barrow. There is no evidence for a ditch encircling the mound or the ring cairn. The origin of the oval southwest extension is unclear: it could be the way the monument was originally built, the result of soil creep or possibly the dumping of spoil from the 1905 excavations, undertaken by Reverend Chanter. GPR has identified reflectors on both the northern and southern sides of the barrow (just within the circuit of the ring cairn) which are believed to have archaeological potential. East of the barrow a horseshoe-shaped cairn has produced a strong magnetic response which could indicate burning. The layout of the stones and the presence of further edge-laid examples at the centre of the ‘horseshoe’ arc is reminiscent of Burnt Mounds identified in many other Bronze Age landscapes. The size and setting (not close to any obvious watercourse) perhaps temper this interpretation and the possibility that it is a feature made at the time of the 1905 excavations cannot be ignored.

Chanter’s section drawing of the barrow
GPR data showing internal stone structure of Chanter’s barrow

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