Ancient Monuments

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Wooden trackways on Chilton Moor, 300m west of Station Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Chilton Polden, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1804 / 51°10'49"N

Longitude: -2.8766 / 2°52'35"W

OS Eastings: 338819.246403

OS Northings: 142711.73472

OS Grid: ST388427

Mapcode National: GBR MB.5YWV

Mapcode Global: VH7DD.3L2H

Entry Name: Wooden trackways on Chilton Moor, 300m west of Station Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014437

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27976

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Chilton Polden

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Church of England Parish: Polden Wheel

Church of England Diocese: Bath and Wells


The monument includes four fields containing lengths of six Neolithic timber
trackways which were recorded during drainage operations in 1968 and
excavations in 1969. All have a similar alignment, from the sand island of
Burtle, south west towards the Polden Hills, crossing the wetlands of Chilton
The trackways exist 40cm-70cm below ground level, with no visible trace at
ground level. The monument is divided by the South Drain, and each field is
surrounded by smaller drainage ditches.
Thirteen brushwood trackways were recorded in the immediate vicinity during
the drainage operations and excavations. The trackways were numbered 1-13,
numbers 4,5,6,11,12 and 13 being concentrated within the area of this
scheduling. They were mainly of birch brushwood construction.
Bore holes were sunk in an attempt to trace the extent of all the trackways.
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 were traced for up to 200m, whereas 11, 12 and 13 were only
minor exposures. To the west of the monument the intersection of two
contemporary Neolithic trackways, Chilton 1 and 2, was revealed.
The trackways are all associated with the early development of fenwood; raised
bog peat is almost totally absent in this area. Samples taken at the time of
the excavation have been analysed for pollen and the vegetational sequence has
been established. Two radiocarbon dates for Chilton 1 and 4 give a date range
for the tracks of between 3650-3500 BC.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences and 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.

Excavation has shown that the Chilton trackways are well preserved organic
structures dating to the Neolithic period, with good potential for the
survival of environmental and structural evidence. They lie 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 cutting.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coles, J M et al, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Prehistoric Roads and Tracks in Somerset, England:2. Neolithic, , Vol. XXXVI, (1970), 125-151
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
SMR entries: 11711 flint, 10944 ring-ditch, 11712 house platform,

Source: Historic England

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