Wooden trackways on Chilton Moor, 300m west of Station Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Wooden trackways on Chilton Moor, 300m west of Station Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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.

Sedgemoor (District Authority)
Sedgemoor (District Authority)
Chilton Polden
National Grid Reference:
ST 38800 42639, ST 38840 42797

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.

Excavation has shown that the Chilton trackways are well preserved organic structures dating to the Neolithic period, with good potential for the survival of environmental and structural evidence. They lie 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 cutting.


The monument includes four fields containing lengths of six Neolithic timber trackways which were recorded during drainage operations in 1968 and excavations in 1969. All have a similar alignment, from the sand island of Burtle, south west towards the Polden Hills, crossing the wetlands of Chilton Moor. The trackways exist 40cm-70cm below ground level, with no visible trace at ground level. The monument is divided by the South Drain, and each field is surrounded by smaller drainage ditches. Thirteen brushwood trackways were recorded in the immediate vicinity during the drainage operations and excavations. The trackways were numbered 1-13, numbers 4,5,6,11,12 and 13 being concentrated within the area of this scheduling. They were mainly of birch brushwood construction. Bore holes were sunk in an attempt to trace the extent of all the trackways. Tracks 4, 5 and 6 were traced for up to 200m, whereas 11, 12 and 13 were only minor exposures. To the west of the monument the intersection of two contemporary Neolithic trackways, Chilton 1 and 2, was revealed. The trackways are all associated with the early development of fenwood; raised bog peat is almost totally absent in this area. Samples taken at the time of the excavation have been analysed for pollen and the vegetational sequence has been established. Two radiocarbon dates for Chilton 1 and 4 give a date range for the tracks of between 3650-3500 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Coles, J M et al, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in Prehistoric Roads and Tracks in Somerset, England:2. Neolithic, , Vol. XXXVI, (1970), 125-151
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
SMR entries: 11711 flint, 10944 ring-ditch, 11712 house platform,


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

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