MSO10391 - 19th Century peat cutting at 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. The mapped area is not definitive.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

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. [1,2] 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 8054 4114. 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. The heyday of peat cutting on Exmoor was probably in the first half of the 19th Century, although small scale cutting probably continued well into the 20th century. [3-6] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [7] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor National Park Field Survey. 29 November 1982.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: 1946. RAF Black and White Vertival Aerial Phoograph.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3162 (11 April 1947).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 979-80 (29 April 1973).
  • <5> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. p72, 232-3.
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #38244 ]
  • <7> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1477898, Extant 13 July 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2480
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW237
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1477898
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 18801



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

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 13 2021 5:05PM


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