The Longstone is the tallest prehistoric standing stone within Exmoor National Park, dating back to the Neolithic period, 500 years ago, the same century Longstone Bed & Breakfast was built, although back then it would have been home to a family and their livestock! The Longstone standing approximately three meters tall above ground and believed by locals to be the same deep, is located between Longstone Barrow and Chapman Barrow, Challacombe, in rugged, prime Exmoor National Park landscape.
The word Longstone means standing stone, or a menhir dating back to the 17th century. Standing stones can be found across Britain, the focus of many a tale! With some believed to hold healing properties, others feared with stories of cursing powers!
Unlike other historical Exmoor landmarks and places of natural interest, such as Tarr Steps, Dunkery Beacon and The Valley of the Rocks who receive countless visitors each year. The Longstone is Exmoor’s hidden gem, with no carpark to drive to it, and very little mention in travel publications. Only accessible by foot or horse back!
Longstone Barrow is Exmoor’s largest prehistoric, turf covered, bowl barrow. Measuring 34m east to west, by 32.8m and is 2.7m high. The centre has been lost, leaving an irregular hollow. Still visible, surrounding the barrow is a ditch approximately 5.5m wide.
A Barrow is an ancient place of burial covered with a large mound of earth. Barrows were constructed in England from Neolithic 4000 BC until late pre-Christian AD 600 times. Barrows of the Neolithic Period were long and contained the various members of a family or clan, while those of the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 BC) were round in shape and were used to bury a single important individual, perhaps a chief or clan leader. The bodies were placed in stone or wooden vaults, over which large mounds of soil were heaped. Both types of barrows continued to be used in England until the advent of Christianity.
Chapman round barrows monument falls into eleven separate areas, which includes a prehistoric round barrow cemetery situated on a prominent ridge which acts as a watershed between several rivers including the Barbrook, River Barle, West Lyn River and the River Bray. The barrow cemetery survives as eleven circular mounds in a mainly linear arrangement which range in size from 14.7m to 32.6m in diameter and from 0.6m to 3.2m in height. The surrounding quarry ditches from which material to construct the mounds was derived survive as buried features up to 3m wide. One barrow has a 0.8m wide berm near its base and three others have apparent kerbs.
Five barrows have excavation hollows at their summits, one of which was opened by Thomas Antell in 1885 to quarry stone for field boundary repairs. Chanter carried out an excavation in 1905 on the largest barrow in the group which revealed a low stone built retaining kerb and a cremation burial. The excavation trench is still clearly visible. One barrow has had a circular mound with an ordnance survey triangulation pillar added to the top. This barrow cemetery is associated with other ritual monuments in the area.