MMO2534 - 19th Century peat cutting north of Larkbarrow Farm (Monument)


An area of peat extraction thought most likely to date to the 19th Century was noted as large, irregularly shaped pits on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Evidence of peat cutting can be seen as large, irregularly shaped pits on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, covering an area of circa 2.5 hectares approximately 400 metres to the north of Larkbarrow Farm at circa SS 8206 4333. The pits are irregularly shaped but appear to be associated with drainage ditches of probable nineteenth century date, and it is probable that the peat cutters opportunistically exploited these linear earthworks following their abandonment, probably in the second half of the 19th Century. The expansion of the relict drainage ditches resulted in the pattern of earthworks now visible. They are mostly rectilinear in plan and often display a stepped edge 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. The identifiable pits vary in size but range up to 25 metres wide and over 70 metres in length. 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] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [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. N.B. The GIS data recorded against Monument 1478350 on the NRHE database is in the shape of a small diamond. This is clearly an error. The correct GIS data appears to have been recorded against record 1478356, which also includes textual data from 1478372. The GIS data for 1478356 has therefore been added to this record (MMO2534). [7,8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3065-6 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3060-1 (8 November 1952).
  • <3> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 72, 232-3.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped features: #47399 1478356; #47400 1478356]
  • <5> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2017. Agricultural Reclamation at Larkbarrow Farm, Exmoor. Exmoor Mires Partnership ELB17 Project Report.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478350, Extant 19 July 2021.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 19 July 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW283
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478350



Grid reference Centred SS 8206 4335 (150m by 273m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (7)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 19 2021 11:51AM


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