MSO10465 - Post-medieval peat cutting east of The Chains (Monument)


A large area of peat cutting is closely associated with an area of 19th Century drainage, and was most likely abandoned in the late 19th or 20th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 7351 4183. Roughly circular peat cutting activity in the area of aerial photographic plots to the east of the Chains Barrow. Approximately 8 metres in diameter and 0.2 metres deep, water filled with eroded and Molinia covered sides. [1] A large area of peat cutting, of probable post medieval date, is visible on aerial photographs [2,3] as numerous small pits and irregular earthworks immediately south of The Chains Barrow, and covering an area of approximately 11 hectares. The earthworks are centred on SS 734 417 and are of a variety of shapes and sizes, from square pits measuring 8 to 10 metres, to less regularly shaped, curved pits up to 90 metres across. The cuttings are closely associated with a number of 19th Century drainage ditches, believed to be part of the Knight family's improvement attempt during the 19th Century. 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 [4]. Similar areas are visible to the east and west. [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: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 21/9/1995.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3151-53 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/2082 3106-08 (19 May 1947).
  • <4> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. P. 47, 143.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped feature: #38908 ]
  • <6> Report: Riley, H.. 2014. Turf Cutting on Exmoor: An archaeological and historical study - project report.



Grid reference Centred SS 7344 4176 (515m by 411m)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO2167
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW 198
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1470637
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 22789

Record last edited

Feb 3 2021 11:38AM


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