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Sections of the Sweet Track and Post Track, 250m ESE of Station House

A Scheduled Monument in Meare, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1666 / 51°9'59"N

Longitude: -2.8224 / 2°49'20"W

OS Eastings: 342592.182245

OS Northings: 141139.4876

OS Grid: ST425411

Mapcode National: GBR MF.6SW3

Mapcode Global: VH7DF.1Y71

Entry Name: Sections of the Sweet Track and Post Track, 250m ESE of Station House

Scheduled Date: 2 January 1976

Last Amended: 13 June 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014831

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27980

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Meare

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument contains a section of two Early Neolithic wooden trackways, the
Post Track and the Sweet Track, which are located in the Brue Valley, midway
between the `island' of Westhay in the north and the base of the Polden Ridge
in the south.
Discovered in 1970, the Sweet Track was excavated in a number of areas between
1970 and 1993, and has been traced for 2km. Its basic structure consisted of
longitudinal rails separating pairs of crossed pegs driven into the unstable
surface either side. These supported the raised oak plank walkway 40cm above
the rails. Some planks were held in place by a peg through or beside them. A
number of flint, ceramic and organic artefacts were found during the
excavations.
Prior to the construction of the Sweet Track there was an earlier structure,
the Post Track, which was probably used for access to the Sweet Track during
its construction. On the same basic alignment, the Post Track consisted of a
marker post every 3m, with heavy planks of lime or ash connecting them. Rarely
pegged, the planks were not raised off the marsh surface. It appeared to have
been dismantled and used to contribute to the Sweet Track
Extensive pollen, macro-plant, tree ring, woodworking and beetle analysis has
been undertaken. Dendrochronological work shows that the Sweet Track timbers
were felled in the winter or early spring of 3807/6 BC, and that the track was
probably built in one episode soon afterwards. The Post Track timbers were
felled in 3838 BC, some 30 years earlier. The radiocarbon dates for the Sweet
Track gave a range of between 4050-3800 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.

Extensive excavations have proved that the Sweet and Post Tracks are the
earliest Neolithic wooden trackways in Britain, possibly in Western Europe.
They are located within the wetlands of the Somerset Levels and Moors, an 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

Sources

Books and journals
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, Sweet Track to Glastonbury, The Somerset Levels in Prehistory, (1986), 41-113
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Sweet Track 1980, , Vol. 7, (1981), 6-11
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, Coles, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Ten Excavations along the Sweet Track (3200 bc), (1984), 4-45
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Ten Excavations along the Sweet Track (3200 bc), (1984), 5-45
Hillam, J et al, 'Antiquity' in Dendrochronology of the English Neolithic, (1990), 211-219
Hillam, J et al, 'Antiquity' in Dendrochronology of the English Neolithic, (1990), 210-219
Other
Coles, JM & Coles, BJ, Sweet Track to Glastonbury, The Somerset Levels in Prehistory, (1986)
SMR entries, Sweet Track 23552, 10739 Post Track 10740,
SMR entry 10740,

Source: Historic England

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