Tinney's trackways, west of Sharpham Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014436

Date first listed: 20-May-1996


Ordnance survey map of Tinney's trackways, west of Sharpham Bridge
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Sharpham

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 national importance.

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 stable ground. 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 wide. 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,

End of official listing