MSO7138 - Post-medieval or modern peat cuttings on The Chains (Monument)


An area of abandoned peat cuttings is visible as rectangular and irregular sunken areas. They are suggested to be post-medieval or modern in date were and used for domestic fuel purposes, or possibly for turfing enclosure field walls.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An area of abandoned peat cuttings (about 50 metres diameter centred at SS 7389 4145) some 475 metres above Ordnance Datum, in rough grassland on the southern slopes of The Chains. They are evident as rectangular and irregular angled sunken areas, 0.3 metres to 0.5 metres deep, of varying sizes. It is not clear if these cuttings were for domestic use as a fuel or merely for turfing the enclosure field walls. The depth of the cuttings and the mass in the area suggest the former. Their date is uncertain but they are probably 19th Century or early 20th Century. [1] A large area of peat cutting, of probable post-medieval date, is visible on aerial photographs [2] as numerous small pits and irregular earthworks on moorland southeast of The Chains Barrow, covering an area of approximately 10.5 hectares. The earthworks are centred on approximately SS 738 414 and are of a variety of shapes and sizes, from square pits measuring 5-6 metres, to less regularly shaped and curved pits up to 50 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 [3]. Similar areas are visible along The Chains to the southeast and southwest. [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> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 3 May 1995.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 926-28 (29 April 1973).
  • <3> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. P. 47, 143.
  • <4>XY Archive: English Heritage. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped feature: #38899 ]
  • <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. 1044510, Extant 18 January 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 7379 4138 (525m by 372m)
Map sheet SS74SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO499
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO12394
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW159
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1044510
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35589

Record last edited

Jan 18 2022 1:51PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.