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Timber trackway site, 700m west of Honeygar Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Meare, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1812 / 51°10'52"N

Longitude: -2.8341 / 2°50'2"W

OS Eastings: 341795.222262

OS Northings: 142776.270381

OS Grid: ST417427

Mapcode National: GBR MD.5XFC

Mapcode Global: VH7DD.TKLT

Entry Name: Timber trackway site, 700m west of Honeygar Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 June 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014434

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27992

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Meare

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument contains the organic remains of sections of two Neolithic timber
trackways, the Honeygore Track and the Abbot's Way. The monument is located
on the Westhay Level, 700m to the west of Honeygar Farm.
The tracks are both thought to extend from the sand `island' of Catcott Burtle
in the west to the rock `island' of Westhay in the east.
The line of the Honeygore Track has been traced by bore-holes through the
northern field of the two included in the scheduling. It consists of birch
brushwood and roundwood longitudinals, laid over frequent transverse stems.
The upper layers were occasionally covered in brushwood, and twigs, bark,
leaves and general wood debris lay around and below the track. Stakes
occurred within and alongside the track, sometimes in pairs. The track has
been dated by radiocarbon between the range 3650-3500 BC.
There are a number of other brushwood structures associated with the Honeygore
Track, namely the Honeycat, Honeybee, Honeydew and Honeypot Tracks.
The Abbot's Way Track is so named because of a priory at Burtle and a former
monastic establishment at Westhay, between which it was thought to run.
The substantial corduroy track consists of transverse birch and alder planks,
with birch, ash and hazel pegs at regular intervals along the outside of the
planks. Stringers or longitudinals of birch occasionally lay over the planks,
giving an effective width of 1m. The planks are overlain in places by slats
and fragments of planking.
The track has been traced west to east for a distance of over 2.5km from
Westhay to Catcott Burtle. The radiocarbon date range is between 2630-2280 BC.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, posts and troughs, 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.

The timber trackway site 700m west of Honeygar Farm includes the organic
remains of sections of two Neolithic timber trackways, the Honeygore Track and
the Abbot's Way. These are located within the Somerset Levels and Moors, a
wetland area of high archaeological value, which has seen rapid landscape
change in 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), 22-23
Godwin, H, Prehistoric Wooden Trackways in the Somerset Levels, (1960), 18-22
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way, , Vol. 2, (1976), 7-20
Coles, J M et al, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in A Neolithic Jigsaw: the Honeygore Complex, , Vol. 11, (1985), 51-61
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, (1989), 64-69
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, (1989), 64-69
Coles, J M, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way 1979, , Vol. 6, (1980), 46-51
Other
Honeygore 23790, flint 25245, axe 23048,
SMR entries, Abbot's Way 23789, flint 25245, axe 23048,

Source: Historic England

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