MMO2310 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Exe Plain (Monument)


A large area of peat cutting, of probable post-medieval date, is visible as numerous sunken rectangular pits and irregular earthworks on Hoar Tor, Exe Plain and the western edge of Lanacombe.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A large area of peat cutting, of probable post-medieval date, is visible on aerial photographs as numerous sunken rectangular pits and irregular earthworks, covering an area of approximately 75 hectares on Hoar Tor, Exe Plain and the western edge of Lanacombe, Exmoor. The earthworks are centred on approximately SS 7647 4247 and are fairly uniform in size and shape, mostly consisting of rectangular sunken pits which measure up to 220 metres long by 50 metres wide. It is not clear whether the peat was extracted for domestic fuel, or for turfing enclosure walls; however, in places the cuttings lie in close proximity to 19th Century land improvement drains, and it is possible that they are also related to the drainage attempt of Exmoor by the Knight family in the mid 19th Century. Due to the vast number of pits visible on aerial photographs, only a representative sample has been transcribed, indicating distribution and form. Peat cutting is known to have continued on Exmoor until very recently, and may continue in places. Similar areas are visible to the north on Brendon Common, and the south on Dure Down. [1-5] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. MAM 13/77 113-14 (20 May 1977).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS 95026 098-99 (12 March 1995).
  • <3> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. P. 143.
  • <4> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. PP. 232-33.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183. [Mapped feature: #38794 ]
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.



Grid reference Centred SS 7639 4237 (1099m by 1079m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE159
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1475487

Record last edited

Oct 6 2020 3:56PM


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