MSO10402 - Post-medieval peat cutting on Swap Hill (Monument)


An area of peat cutting of probable post-medieval date can be seen as numerous irregularly shaped pits and disturbed ground on Swap Hill, on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Irregular shaped, shallow and eroded peat cutting on Swap Hill, measure c0.2-0.25 metres in depth. A shell hole in one trench confirms a pre-war date. It is more extensive on the ground than can be seen in aerial photographs. [1] An extensive area of peat cutting on Swap Hill of probable post-medieval date can be seen as numerous irregularly shaped, densely packed pits and disturbed ground on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, centred on circa SS 8093 4263. The pits are mainly small and rectilinear in shape, but vary in size from less than 5 metres long and 2 metres wide, to large excavations over 90 metres in length and over 10 metres wide. The larger pits may more readily reflect the cumulative nature of peat cutting on Exmoor, where one family may cut the same peat beds or turbary, known locally as a 'turf', for generations as part of their commoner's rights. In total, this area of peat cutting covers over less than four hectares. Similar, but much more extensive cuttings can be seen to the north and east. Due to the difficult nature of the evidence, which can vary in appearance on aerial photographs from year to year, the transcription attempts only to convey the general area of the excavations and character of pits and should not be taken as a definitive transcription of the extent of the cuttings. Peat cutting has probably taken place on Exmoor from the medieval period, although the heyday was probably in the first half of the 19th Century. Small scale cutting probably continued in some places well into the twentieth century. [2-4] A study of the archaeology and history of peat exploitation on Exmoor’s moorlands provides additional background on the practice and sites. [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> Unassigned: Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset. 1982. [No title]. 5 July 1982.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3107-8 (8 November 1952).
  • <3> Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. 72, 232-3.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #38236 ]
  • <5> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1477942, Extant 13 July 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2494
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW244
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1477942
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 18813



Grid reference Centred SS 8091 4261 (285m by 189m)
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jul 13 2021 4:06PM


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