Sections of the Sweet Track and Post Track, 250m ESE of Station House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 42590 41139

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.

Extensive excavations have proved that the Sweet and Post Tracks are the earliest Neolithic wooden trackways in Britain, possibly in Western Europe. They are located within the wetlands of the Somerset Levels and Moors, an 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 contains a section of two Early Neolithic wooden trackways, the Post Track and the Sweet Track, which are located in the Brue Valley, midway between the `island' of Westhay in the north and the base of the Polden Ridge in the south. Discovered in 1970, the Sweet Track was excavated in a number of areas between 1970 and 1993, and has been traced for 2km. 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 excavations. Prior to the construction of the Sweet Track there was an earlier structure, the Post Track, which was probably used for access to the Sweet Track during its construction. On the same basic alignment, 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 Extensive pollen, macro-plant, tree ring, woodworking and beetle analysis has been undertaken. Dendrochronological work shows that the Sweet Track timbers were felled in the winter or early spring of 3807/6 BC, and that the track was probably built in one episode soon afterwards. The Post Track timbers were felled in 3838 BC, some 30 years earlier. The radiocarbon dates for the Sweet Track gave a range of between 4050-3800 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.


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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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