MMO2524 - 19th Century peat cutting above Black Mires (Monument)


An extensive area of peat cutting which probably dates to the 19th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Evidence of peat cutting of probable 19th Century date can be seen as irregularly shaped pits on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards. Two types of pit are visible along a north to south spur on the north facing slopes of Black Mires, above Weir Water, Porlock Allotment, in total covering an area of nearly 8 hectares centred on circa SS 8394 4368. On the lower, northern slopes the pits are closely spaced and possibly intercut, displaying both curved and stepped sides in plan, which has been interpreted as evidence of sustained and systematic peat cutting, perhaps by several generations of the same family in a preferred location, as part of their commoners' rights. To the south on the higher slopes, around circa SS 8378 4344, the pits are much narrower, a little as two metres wide, but up to 60 metres long. These may be evidence of smaller scale extraction or prospecting for new peat beds. Several of these appear to abut or cut the course of the Simonsbath to Porlock Mineral railway and are therefore probably mid-nineteenth century in date. Due to the difficult nature of the evidence, which can vary in appearance on aerial photographs from year to year, the transcription attempts only to convey the general area and character of the excavations and should be taken only as indicative of the extent of individual pits. The heyday of peat cutting on Exmoor was in the first half of the 19th Century, although cutting probably took place on a smaller scale from the medieval period well into the 20th Century. (1-3) A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [4] An individual peat cutting was noticed during a walk over survey by Cornwall Council at SS 83827 143452. It measured 17 metres by 2 metres and up to 0.3 metres deep. [5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 4066-7 (13 May 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4084-6 (11 July 1946).
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #38922 ]
  • <4> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <5>XY Report: Kirkham, G. and Taylor, S.. 2008. Exmoor Mire Restoration Project: Archaeological Survey on Moorland Areas at Alderman's Barrow Allotment, Blackpitts-Exe Head, North Twitchen, Roosthitchen and Verney's Allotment. Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Service (Projects). p. 10; no. 11. [Mapped feature: #44833 Individual Peat Cutting., ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478240, Extant 19 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 83884 43638 (339m by 526m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW273
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478240

Record last edited

Jul 19 2021 2:35PM


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