Section of the Abbot's Way trackway, 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014432

Date first listed: 22-Jun-1984

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Apr-1996


Ordnance survey map of Section of the Abbot's Way trackway, 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 17:41:31.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Meare

National Grid Reference: ST 41979 42583


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 national importance.

This section of the Abbot's Way wooden trackway 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm exists as part of a longer trackway which has been badly damaged by peat cutting activities. Much of the total length of the trackway has been destroyed. Where excavated, it has provided much information regarding structure, environment and woodland management. The track section 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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument contains the remains of a section of Late Neolithic corduroy timber trackway, located 500m WSW of Honeygar Farm. It was called the Abbot's Way due to the location of a priory at Burtle and a former monastic establishment at Westhay, between which the track was thought to run. The monument is isolated in worked peat fields. In this area 33m of the track was revealed in 1974, of which 10m were left in situ, in addition to 10m of unexcavated track. The Abbot's track was first noted in 1835, and in 1873 a section was excavated by Dymond, revealing a structure of transverse split logs flanked by pegs or stakes. He also noted that the pegs were attached by withy ties to longitudinal stringers of birch, which lay along either edge of the track. The track was rediscovered due to peat cutting in the 1960s, during which time excavation was limited. However, multiple borings traced it for a distance of 2560m, confirming a link between the sand `island' of Burtle and the rock `island' of Westhay. Further excavation in 1974 and 1979 confirmed the basic structure as being formed of split logs or planks laid transversely, with slats or fragments of planks between these, and a regular line of pegs along the outside edge. Variations included the use of roundwood to fill in gaps between the main planking. Samples submitted for radiocarbon analysis give a date range between 2630- 2280 BC, placing it in the Late Neolithic period. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences or 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: 27990

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coles, J M, Hibbert, F A, Prehistoric Roads and Tracks in Somerset, England:1. Neolithic, (1968), 248-252
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way, , Vol. 2, (1976), 7-20
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, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Abbot's Way 1979, , Vol. 6, (1980), 46-49
SMR entries, Honeygore 23790,axe 23048, flint 25245,

End of official listing