MMO2928 - Post-medieval peat cutting between Long Holcombe and Hangley Cleave (Monument)


A large area of peat cutting, of probable post-medieval date, is visible as numerous small pits and irregular earthworks on moorland between Long Holcombe and Hangley Cleave, Exmoor.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

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 covering an area of approximately 16 hectares. The earthworks are centred on approximately SS 7587 3599, on moorland between Hangley Cleave and Long Holcombe, and are of a variety of shapes and sizes, from square pits measuring 8 metres across, to less regularly shaped, curved pits up to 50 metres across. It is not clear whether the peat was extracted for domestic fuel, or for turfing enclosure walls. The cuttings were most likely abandoned in the late 19th or 20th Century. Peat cutting is known to have continued on Exmoor until very recently, and may still continue in places. Similar areas are visible to the east on Long Holcombe. [1-3] An extensive area of eroded peat cutting is visible on the ridge. They are irregular, rectangular cuttings between 20 and 30 centimetres deep, and vary in size from 10 metres by 6 metres to longer sides of up to 20 metres. [4] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [5] The most common features encountered were abandoned peat cuttings. These were usually subrectangular, and varied in size from long rectangular cuttings c.3 by 20 metres in extent, to nearly square cuttings c.8 by 10 metres. The cuttings were concentrated on the higher, flatter areas of the moor, although isolated groups were observed elsewhere. There did seem to be some variation in the age of the cuttings, based on an assessment of definition and recolonisation by molinia. The cuttings on the northern part of the moor were less well defined, and had been completely recolonised, whereas feature definition and plant species variation was much more evident on the higher and more remote parts of the moor. [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: Meridian Air Maps. 1982. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 2326-27.
  • <2> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. 232-3.
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190. [Mapped feature: #37862 ]
  • <4> Report: McDonnell, R.. 2008. Hangley Cleave: Report on an Archaeological Walkover Survey. 3, feature number 6.
  • <5> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <6> Report: Bray, L., Green, T., Wapshott, E. + Walls, S.. 2011. Emmett's Grange, Exmoor, Somerset: Management plan and archaeological assessment. Appendix 1, p40.
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1487415, Extant 23 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE131
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1487415
  • Report Site Reference: 381 SEM7641



Grid reference Centred SS 7590 3600 (796m by 430m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Nov 23 2021 1:21PM


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