MMO2930 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Horsen Hill (Monument)


A large area of peat cuttings on Horsen Hill. 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.

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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 24 hectares on Horsen Hill, Exmoor. The earthworks are centred on SS 7926 3556 and are of a variety of shapes and sizes, from square pits measuring 7 metres across, to less regularly shaped, curved pits up to 65 metres across. Due to the vast number of pits visible on aerial photographs, only a representative sample has been transcribed, indicating distribution and form. Peat cutting is known to have continued on Exmoor until very recently, and may continue in places. In places the peat cuttings are overlain by post-medieval field boundaries, suggesting that they predate the enclosure of the land around Horsen Hill. [1-3] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [4] The remains of peat cutting cover an area 700 metres east to west by 150 metres north to south on the summit of Horsen Hill. The remains comprise numerous irregular and subrectangular hollows up to 0.5 metres deep. [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. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4367-68 (11 April 1947).
  • <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: #38951 ]
  • <4> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <5> Report: Riley, H.. 2016. Archaeological walkover survey: Horsen, Exmoor. 12.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1487423, Extant 23 November 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7925 3558 (1264m by 542m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE133
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1487423

Record last edited

Nov 23 2021 1:25PM


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