MMO2525 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Black Mires (Monument)


An extensive area of peat cutting apparently overlain by the course of the Simonsbath to Porlock Mineral railway, and possibly dating to the 18th or 19th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Evidence of peat cutting can be seen as densely grouped irregularly shaped pits on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards. The pits cover an area of nearly 2.5 hectares centred on circa SS 84184352, on a north facing spur on the slopes of Black Mires Hill, above Weir Water, Porlock Allotment. The pits are closely spaced and possibly intercut, displaying 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. Several of the pits to the south of the group appear to be overlain by the course of the Simonsbath to Porlock Mineral railway. If this is the case, they are therefore probably of possible 18th or early 19th Century date. However, further fieldwork is required to establish the relationship between to two features. 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. (1-4) This was surveyed during a measured field survey in 2013, undertaken as part of the Dig Porlock project, run by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme. [6] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [7] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4084-6. 11/07/1946.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3054-5. 08/11/1952.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8443/3/289 (SF1459). 01/03/1979.
  • <4> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 72, 232-3.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #38923 ]
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2013. Dig Porlock: Earthwork surveys on Porlock Allotment. 3, 11, 12, 16.
  • <7> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478245, Extant 19 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8417 4351 (139m by 261m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW274
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478245

Record last edited

Jul 19 2021 2:19PM


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