Wooden trackways on Chilton Moor, 300m west of Station Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2019 at 12:46:11.
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
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
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