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Sections of the Sweet Track and Post Track, 650m east of Canada Farm

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Sections of the Sweet Track and Post Track, 650m east of Canada Farm

List entry Number: 1014439

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: Sedgemoor

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Shapwick

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Jan-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Apr-1996

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27979

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

The Early Neolithic Sweet and Post Tracks are the oldest known wooden trackways in Britain, possibly in Western Europe, and have provided a wealth of evidence about woodland and woodworking activities. They are located 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, endangering the preservation and survival of the tracks due to changes in water levels and environmental conditions.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument contains the well preserved organic remains of sections of two Early Neolithic timber trackways, the Sweet Track, and its predecessor, the Post Track. They are located within the Brue Valley, and aligned north-south. The Sweet Track ran from Westhay island in the north to the base of the Polden Ridge in the south, a length of 2km. Discovered in 1970, the Sweet Track was excavated in a number of areas between 1970 and 1993. Its basic structure consisted of longitudinal rails separating pairs of crossed pegs driven into the unstable surface either side. These supported the raised oak plank walkway 40cm above the rails. Some planks were held in place by a peg through or beside them. A number of flint, ceramic and organic artefacts were found during the excavation. Prior to the construction of the Sweet Track, an earlier structure, the Post Track, was present and was probably used for access to the Sweet Track during its construction. The Post Track consisted of a marker post every 3m, with heavy planks of lime or ash connecting them. Rarely pegged, the planks were not raised off the marsh surface. It appeared to have been dismantled, and used to contribute to the Sweet Track. A few weeks work would have supplied the 2000m of rails, 6000 pegs and 4000m of planking for the Sweet Track. It is suggested that two groups of at least half a dozen adults each could then have built the track in a day. The monument is situated between two major lengths of excavated track, sites R (Railway) and F (Factory), which produced a great quantity of well preserved wooden artefacts indicative of a settlement site. Investigations within the area of the scheduling were undertaken in 1981 and 1982. Extensive pollen, macro-plant, tree ring, woodworking and beetle analysis has been undertaken. Dendrochronological work shows that the timbers for the Sweet Track were felled in the winter/spring of 3807/6 BC and that the track was probably built in one episode soon afterwards. The felling date for the timbers for the Post Track is 3838 BC, some 30 years earlier. The radiocarbon dates for the Sweet Track gave a range of between 4050-3800 BC. A length of the Sweet Track has been reconstructed within the area of the scheduling, in a part of the Nature Reserve. 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, Sweet Track to Glastonbury, The Somerset Levels in Prehistory, (1986), 41-84
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, Sweet Track to Glastonbury, The Somerset Levels in Prehistory, (1986), 24-113
Coles, J M, Orme, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in The Sweet Track 1980, , Vol. 7, (1981), 6-11
Coles, B J, Dobson, M J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Calibration of Radiocarbon dates from the Somerset Levels, , Vol. 15, (1989), 64-69
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Ten Excavations along the Sweet Track (3200 bc), (1984), 4-45
Coles, J M, Coles, B J, 'Somerset Levels Papers' in Ten Excavations along the Sweet Track (3200 bc), (1984), 4-45
Hillam, J et al, 'Antiquity' in Dendrochronology of the English Neolithic, (1990), 210-219
Hillam, J et al, 'Antiquity' in Dendrochronology of the English Neolithic, (1990), 210-219
Other
SMR entries, Sweet Track 10739, 23552, 11000 Post Track 10740,
SMR entry 10740,

National Grid Reference: ST 42355 40466

Map

Map
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014439 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2017 at 09:12:34.

End of official listing