MSO10391 - Peat Cutting, Elsworthy (Monument)


An extensive area of peat cutting of probable 19th century date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards on the upper slopes of Elsworthy.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Shallow and eroded rectangular peat cuttings, up to 0.5 metres deep, but generally much less, occur on nearly all parts of Elsworthy and the ridge to the west. The cuttings vary from small, 5 by 5 metres, to long cuttings that are up to 60 metres in length. These features are much more extensive than the aerial photographic evidence suggests. All these features occur on the Ashcombe soil series. (1) An extensive area of peat cutting of probable 19th century date can be seen as irregularly shaped pits and disturbed ground on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, centred on circa SS 80544114. The most clearly visible pits vary in size from less than 5 metres in length to almost 200 metres long, and probably represent the deepest features. The longest pits are clearly opportunistically exploiting the excavations of the failing drainage system to gain access to the peat, and therefore were probably cut during the second half of the 19th century. More extensive but shallower workings are probably present, but are visible only as a disturbed ground surface. 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 area and general character of the clearest excavations, and should not be taken as a definitive indicator of the extent of the peat cuttings. (3-5) A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor National Park Field Survey. 29/11/1982.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1946. RAF Black and White Vertival Aerial Phoograph.
  • <3> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3162. 11/04/1947.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 979-80. 29/04/1973.
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.



Grid reference Centred SS 8054 4120 (1095m by 375m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2480
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1477898
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 18801

Record last edited

Aug 18 2015 2:48PM


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