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Timber trackways 850m east of Catcott Burtle Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Burtle, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1846 / 51°11'4"N

Longitude: -2.8435 / 2°50'36"W

OS Eastings: 341141.57193

OS Northings: 143156.221584

OS Grid: ST411431

Mapcode National: GBR MD.5MFH

Mapcode Global: VH7DD.NHM7

Entry Name: Timber trackways 850m east of Catcott Burtle Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 October 1976

Last Amended: 8 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014433

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27991

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Burtle

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Church of England Parish: Polden Wheel

Church of England Diocese: Bath and Wells

Details

The monument contains sections of a number of prehistoric timber trackways
relating to the Honeygore complex; these take the form of Neolithic brushwood
and hurdle trackways linking the sand `island' of Catcott Burtle with the rock
`island' of Westhay. The Abbot's Way Track was seen in the 19th century to lie
to the south of the monument.

The most substantial trackway within the monument is the Honeygore Track,
which consists of heavy brushwood bundles of birch stems and branches, which
were laid longitudinally over frequent transverse stems. The track was
underlain in places by brash of twigs, bark, leaves and general wood debris.
Stakes were noted alongside and within the structure of the track, often in
pairs. The stumps of alder trees were noted as occasionally being used to form
the track, both in situ and imported. The track was generally 1.2m wide and
0.22m thick. It has been traced for a total length of 600m.

The Honeycat approached the Honeygore Track and consisted of light brushwood
heaps or bundles dumped on the bog surface creating a 0.7m wide path. Heavier
birch pieces lay to the side and within the body of the track, which overlay
occasional transverse roundwood. Brash trimmings of twigs and leaves lay
around the track.

The Honeybee Track differs in that it is predominantly a hazel hurdle
trackway, made from panels of woven hazel brushwood, creating a track
0.5m-0.6m wide. The Honeydew Track was again a brushwood bundle structure,
1m-1.5m in width. The Honeypot Track ran north west-south east, a birch
brushwood track, 0.75m-1m in width. It included some possibly coppiced hazel,
but was mostly of birch brush and roundwood, with occasional pegs holding the
bundles in place. The radiocarbon dates for the tracks indicate that the
oldest track is the Honeygore, succeeded by Honeydew and Honeybee. The
Honeycat Track ran parallel to Honeygore, and was not contemporary, whereas
the Honeydew was probably a side track to the Honeygore. All of the tracks
date to the Neolithic period (between 3650-2870 BC).

Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and posts, though the
ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Excavation has confirmed that the Honeygore complex of Neolithic timber
trackways represents the oldest known timber trackways linking Westhay and
Catcott Burtle. The concentration of trackways associated with the Honeygore
Track increases the likelihood that others are present within the area of the
monument. The monument 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

Sources

Books and journals
Godwin, H, Prehistoric Wooden Trackways in the Somerset Levels, (1960), 18-22
Coles, J M et al, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in A Neolithic Jigsaw: the Honeygore Complex, , Vol. 11, (1985), 57-61
Coles, J M et al, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Some Neolithic Brushwood Structures 1984-1985, , Vol. 14, (1988), 34-43
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
Other
SMR entry, Abbot's Way 23789,

Source: Historic England

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