MMO2767 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Horcombe (Monument)


A large area of peat cutting is visible on aerial photographs as numerous small pits and irregular earthworks, possibly extracted for domestic fuel or turfing enclosure walls. It was most likely abandoned in the late 19th or 20th Century.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A large area of peat cutting, of probable post-medieval date, is visible on aerial photographs as numerous small pits and irregular earthworks on Horcombe, south of the River Barle, Exmoor and covering an area of approximately 8 hectares. The earthworks are centred on SS 7433 3822 and are of a variety of shapes and sizes, from square or rectangular pits measuring 10 metres across, to less regularly shaped, curved or branching trenches up to 60 metres across. Due to the vast number of pits visible on aerial photographs, only a representative sample has been transcribed, indicating distribution and form. It is likely that these cuttings were worked mainly in the mid to late 19th Century, following the acquisition of the former Royal Forest by the Knight family. Prior to that date this area would have been within the forest boundaries. Peat cutting is known to have continued on Exmoor until very recently, and may continue in places. A similar area visible to the east may have been in use at the same time; the pattern of pits and trenches are quite similar. [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]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73087 619-20 (17 April 1973).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96507 44-45 (30 March 1996).
  • <3> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P. 232-33.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189. [Mapped feature: #38948 ]
  • <5> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.



Grid reference Centred SS 7434 3821 (397m by 437m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS73NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW107
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1484458

Record last edited

Aug 19 2020 1:59PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.