Prehistoric timber trackways, 670m SSE of Parchey Bridge
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Sedgemoor (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 35497 37162
Reasons for Designation
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
The wooden trackways 670m SSE of Parchey Bridge are a concentration of well preserved organic structures, as yet undated, 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.
The monument includes the remains of sections of a number of prehistoric
timber trackways, located at the base of a spur of higher land, Sutton Hams,
The tracks were first noted during improvement work to the King's Sedgemoor Back Ditch in the spring of 1979. This ditch runs parallel and east of King's Sedgemoor Drain. There is 40m of land between the two, which rises slightly centrally.
There were seven timber structures noted, (Sutton 1-7). All were visible in both banks of the ditch, except for two which were only noted in the west bank. The tracks all radiated approximately westward from the spur of Sutton Hams.
The tracks were seen obliquely in section. Enough could be seen at the time of the exposure to determine their basic structure. The trackways in the eastern bank were higher than those in the west, following the slope of the land towards the high ground of Sutton Hams.
Sutton 1 consisted of hazel brushwood over spaced transverses. One heavier longitudinal was noted beneath the transverses. Sutton 2 lay below this by 0.12m-0.16m of peat, consisting of hazel brushwood longitudinals secured by three pegs across the width.
Sutton 3 was predominantly of hazel and alder roundwood and brushwood longitudinals, with a split willow log, flat side up, secured by pegs. Sutton 4 was also of brushwood and roundwood, pegged, over more brushwood. It also included a squared oak timber, 0.13m x 0.13m. Sutton 5 was mainly of hazel roundwood, showing axe marks, with brushwood below.
Sutton 6 was seen obliquely, as a mattress of brushwood with roundwood. The main structure was of roundwood and logs, with some transverse timbers. Sutton 6a was thought to join it. Sutton 7 comprised roundwood and brushwood longitudinals which were secured by pegs, and sloped up with the rising ground towards the Sutton Hams spur.
A number of flint and bone artefacts were found in the associated spoil.
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Norman, C, Clements, C, 'Sutton Hams trackways' in Prehistoric Timber Structures on King's Sedgemoor:Some Recent Ds, , Vol. 123, (1979), 5-18
SMR entries, Wood finds 12125, Chedzoy Moor Drove Rhyne track 10435,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing