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Section of the Abbot's Way trackway, 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Meare, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1795 / 51°10'46"N

Longitude: -2.8314 / 2°49'53"W

OS Eastings: 341979.764849

OS Northings: 142583.541806

OS Grid: ST419425

Mapcode National: GBR MD.5Y7J

Mapcode Global: VH7DD.WM04

Entry Name: Section of the Abbot's Way trackway, 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 June 1984

Last Amended: 19 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014432

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27990

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Meare

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument contains the remains of a section of Late Neolithic corduroy
timber trackway, located 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm. It was called the Abbot's
Way due to the location of a priory at Burtle and a former monastic
establishment at Westhay, between which the track was thought to run.
The monument is isolated in worked peat fields. In this area 33m of the track
was revealed in 1974, of which 10m were left in situ, in addition to 10m of
unexcavated track.
The Abbot's track was first noted in 1835, and in 1873 a section was excavated
by Dymond, revealing a structure of transverse split logs flanked by pegs or
stakes. He also noted that the pegs were attached by withy ties to
longitudinal stringers of birch, which lay along either edge of the track.
The track was rediscovered due to peat cutting in the 1960s, during which
time excavation was limited. However, multiple borings traced it for a
distance of 2560m, confirming a link between the sand `island' of Burtle and
the rock `island' of Westhay.
Further excavation in 1974 and 1979 confirmed the basic structure as being
formed of split logs or planks laid transversely, with slats or fragments of
planks between these, and a regular line of pegs along the outside edge.
Variations included the use of roundwood to fill in gaps between the main
Samples submitted for radiocarbon analysis give a date range between 2630-
2280 BC, placing it in the Late Neolithic period.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences or posts, though the ground
beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wooden trackways were constructed in the prehistoric period between the
Neolithic and the later pre-Roman Iron Age, primarily as communication routes
across wet areas of ground and as a means of access to the natural resources
of wetlands. Most excavated examples take the form of simple structures of
brushwood or hurdlework, although some are of more complex pile, plank and log
construction. Wooden trackways normally had a very short active lifespan,
leading to the clustering of tracks where a communications route was in
existence over a long period; some isolated examples are, however, recorded.
Because they were sited in wetland areas, trackways generally became buried by
the accumulation of peat soon after their construction, and they are now
generally recorded as a result of peat extraction, followed by survey and
excavation elsewhere along their length.
Approximately 75 examples of either trackways or groups of trackways have been
recorded in England. Because of the way in which they are discovered, this is
likely to be only a small proportion of those present in the prehistoric
period, and some of the recorded examples will have been destroyed or badly
damaged by desiccation of the organic components. Over half the recorded
examples are from the Somerset Moors.
Trackways yield information concerning woodworking, tools, woodland
management, and trading or communication routes. They are usually associated
with deposits containing well-preserved environmental data such as pollen,
beetle, and macro-plant remains, and they may be significant sources of
dendrochronological data. As a rare and diverse form of structure used
throughout the prehistoric period, all identified prehistoric wooden trackways
with surviving archaeological remains, would normally be considered to be of
national importance.

This section of the Abbot's Way wooden trackway 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm
exists as part of a longer trackway which has been badly damaged by peat
cutting activities. Much of the total length of the trackway has been
destroyed. Where excavated, it has provided much information regarding
structure, environment and woodland management. The track section lies within
the Somerset Levels and Moors, a wetland area of high archaeological value
which has seen rapid landscape change over the past 200 years as a result of
drainage and intensive peat extraction.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coles, J M, Hibbert, F A, Prehistoric Roads and Tracks in Somerset, England:1. Neolithic, (1968), 248-252
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way, , Vol. 2, (1976), 7-20
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
Coles, J M, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way 1979, , Vol. 6, (1980), 46-49
SMR entries, Honeygore 23790,axe 23048, flint 25245,

Source: Historic England

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