Timber trackways 850m east of Catcott Burtle Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014433
Date first listed: 15-Oct-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 08-May-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Sedgemoor (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 41142 43152
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
Excavation has confirmed that the Honeygore complex of Neolithic timber trackways represents the oldest known timber trackways linking Westhay and Catcott Burtle. The concentration of trackways associated with the Honeygore Track increases the likelihood that others are present within the area of the monument. The monument 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.
The monument contains sections of a number of prehistoric timber trackways
relating to the Honeygore complex; these take the form of Neolithic brushwood
and hurdle trackways linking the sand `island' of Catcott Burtle with the rock
`island' of Westhay. The Abbot's Way Track was seen in the 19th century to lie
to the south of the monument.
The most substantial trackway within the monument is the Honeygore Track, which consists of heavy brushwood bundles of birch stems and branches, which were laid longitudinally over frequent transverse stems. The track was underlain in places by brash of twigs, bark, leaves and general wood debris. Stakes were noted alongside and within the structure of the track, often in pairs. The stumps of alder trees were noted as occasionally being used to form the track, both in situ and imported. The track was generally 1.2m wide and 0.22m thick. It has been traced for a total length of 600m.
The Honeycat approached the Honeygore Track and consisted of light brushwood heaps or bundles dumped on the bog surface creating a 0.7m wide path. Heavier birch pieces lay to the side and within the body of the track, which overlay occasional transverse roundwood. Brash trimmings of twigs and leaves lay around the track.
The Honeybee Track differs in that it is predominantly a hazel hurdle trackway, made from panels of woven hazel brushwood, creating a track 0.5m-0.6m wide. The Honeydew Track was again a brushwood bundle structure, 1m-1.5m in width. The Honeypot Track ran north west-south east, a birch brushwood track, 0.75m-1m in width. It included some possibly coppiced hazel, but was mostly of birch brush and roundwood, with occasional pegs holding the bundles in place. The radiocarbon dates for the tracks indicate that the oldest track is the Honeygore, succeeded by Honeydew and Honeybee. The Honeycat Track ran parallel to Honeygore, and was not contemporary, whereas the Honeydew was probably a side track to the Honeygore. All of the tracks date to the Neolithic period (between 3650-2870 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 27991
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Godwin, H, Prehistoric Wooden Trackways in the Somerset Levels, (1960), 18-22
Coles, J M et al, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in A Neolithic Jigsaw: the Honeygore Complex, , Vol. 11, (1985), 57-61
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, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
SMR entry, Abbot's Way 23789,
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