MMO2538 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Stowey Allotment (Monument)


An area of peat cutting most likely to date to the early to mid 19th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Evidence of peat cutting can be seen as large, irregularly shaped pits and disturbed ground on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, covering an area of over 23 hectares of Stowey Allotment, South Common, centred on circa SS 8080 4452. The visible pits are very extensive and irregularly shaped, often displaying a one or more curved or stepped edges. In combination with the pits size, these characteristics have been interpreted as evidence of sustained and systematic peat cutting, perhaps by several generations of the same family returning to a preferred location and expanding an existing cutting. Identifiable pits can be seen as small as 5 metres across, but the majority of the pits are over 45 metres wide, with the largest single feature measuring over 175 metres north to south. Between the transcribed pits, areas of disturbed ground indicate the presence of further earthworks not readily identifiable or coherent enough to transcribe from aerial photographs. Due to the difficult nature of this 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 the peat cuttings. 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 20th Century. [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] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4080-1 (11 July 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 4064-5 (8 November 1952).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA JAS 059-060 (29 August 1985).
  • <4> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 72 and 232-3.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #38944 ]
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1478375, Extant 19 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8087 4439 (605m by 1068m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW287
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1478375

Record last edited

Jul 19 2021 10:47AM


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