Tinney's trackways, west of Sharpham Bridge
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014436
Date first listed: 20-May-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 46708 38088
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
Tinney's Ground, to the east of the monument, contained multiple trackways which have been totally removed by peat cutting. The monument to the west of Tinney's Ground will contain the undisturbed continuation of these Bronze Age wooden trackways towards the Polden Hills, these being rare and potentially well preserved brushwood structures. 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.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the continuation of a number of prehistoric timber
trackways excavated in a peat field to the east known as Tinney's Ground. The
trackways are Bronze Age in date and were built to cross a raised bog between
the Polden Hills and Glastonbury. There is no visible surface indication of
the monument, but brushwood has been recorded in the banks of the South Drain
between the two fields which contain the monument.
Tinney's Ground was systematically cut for peat during the 1970s;
archaeological recording of the site began in 1973 and continued until the
cutting stopped in 1993. The most intensive period of recording and
excavation took place from 1973 to 1979, the Bronze Age levels being almost
completely removed during this time.
Nine tracks were recognised, TIN A-J (not I) as well as thousands of pieces of
timber, brushwood and stakes from over 260 excavations which took place during
peat cutting operations. All the finds lay within the range of 2.75m-3.10m OD.
Three continuous tracks, A-C, were noted, all of a similar alignment. Track
TIN A (upper) was traced for 200m from the western edge of the field to the
north east. It consisted of longitudinal alder brushwood overlying transverse
pieces of alder and a central deposit of brash, held in place by heavy rails
along the edge of the track. Lying below this was a previous track
constructed of reused planks overlying a compacted mass of wood.
Track TIN B was traced for 200m, of ordinary pegged brushwood construction for
much of this length, but exhibited a plank bedded in brushwood at one point.
Track TIN C was seen for 140m, again of pegged brushwood, lying between TIN A
and B, on the same general alignment of north east-south west.
These three tracks appeared to run continuously, but tracks D-J represent
short stretches of structures laid down specifically in response to local
conditions on the bog surface, possibly crossing wet patches or pools between
The construction of TIN D, 40m in length, varied from a scatter of roundwood
containing oak slats and bundles of alder, to brushwood. Visible for 60m, TIN
E was made of densely packed alder brushwood held in place by short pegs and
may be part of the same track as TIN F. TIN G was 30m long and made from
heaps of roundwood. The shortest track, TIN H, may have consolidated a wet
patch of ground, being made of brushwood and visible for just 15m. TIN J was
similar to TIN D, consisting of bundles of brushwood forming a track 0.5m
A number of track junctions suggest contemporaneity.
There has been extensive analysis of environmental remains. Pollen analysis
indicates that the hill slopes had supported pasture land and fields for
cultivation, while beetle (coleoptera) studies support indications of animal
husbandry. Evidence of woodland management, tool marks and dating have
resulted from analysis of alder and oak from the trackways. The radiocarbon
dates fall into two distinct groups, five spanning between 1410-1210 BC, and
four between 1270-1040 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: 27975
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Coles, J M et al, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Multiple Trackways from Tinney's Ground, , Vol. 4, (1978), 47-81
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Tinney's Ground 1978 and 1979, , Vol. 6, (1980), 60-68
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-66
Girling, M A, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Indications from Coleoptera Re: Tinney's Brushwood Complex, , Vol. 8, (1982), 64-66
Morgan, R A, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Tree Ring Studies in the Somerset Levels - Tinney's Ground, , Vol. 6, (1980), 69-72
Morgan, R A, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Tree Ring Studies in the Somerset Levels - Tinney's Ground, , Vol. 4, (1978), 82-85
SMR Records: Godwins 25283, 2 stakes 25295,
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