MMO2524 - Peat Cutting, Black Mires above Weir Water (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 nineteenth 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 83944368. On the lower, northern slopes the pits are closely spaced and possibly inter-cut, 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 83784344, 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 nineteenth century, although cutting probably took place on a smaller scale from the medieval period well into the twentieth 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 17m by 2m and up to 0.3m deep. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 4066-7. 13/05/1946.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4084-6. 11/07/1946.
  • <3> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184.
  • <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. p. 10; no. 11. [Mapped feature: #44833 Individual Peat Cutting., ]



Grid reference Centred SS 83884 43638 (339m by 526m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1478240

Record last edited

Jul 27 2018 8:44AM


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