NEW FINDINGS ON EXMOOR’S MIRES, MINILITHS AND MONUMENTS

Results of recent archaeological research on Exmoor are due to be presented at the National Park’s annual Archaeology Forum on Saturday 13 October 10am – 4.30pm at Brushford Parish Hall.

Archaeological research on Exmoor’s peatlands, undertaken as part of the Exmoor Mires Partnership, will showcase a multi-disciplinary study of the prehistoric landscapes and settlements of Codsend Moor.

An analysis of the efforts of the Knight Family to ‘improve’ the former Royal Forest will look at the palaeo-environmental evidence and compare the field remains with old letters and other documents from the Knight family uncovered in an attic in 2016. Speakers include Prof. Ralph Fyfe and Havananda Ombashi from the University of Plymouth and Ross Dean, Hazel Riley and Dr Martin Gillard.

In the afternoon, the results of a survey examining the condition of Exmoor’s oldest structures, known as ‘miniliths’, will be presented. In the face of them being threatened by off-road vehicles, erosion, vandalism, grazing animals and even moorland vegetation, the National Park was awarded funding from Historic England to appoint an intern in 2017 to catalogue and thoroughly investigate the condition of the stones.

Jack Fuller, the intern who carried out the investigation, said: “Exmoor’s standing stones are more than 4,000 years old, yet we’re still discovering new things all the time. The survey included more than 140 sites, and even led to the discovery of new stones, which just goes to show how much more there still is to learn about Exmoor’s fascinating past.”

It’s thought Exmoor’s standing stone monuments originate from some time between the Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age (c.3000-1500BCE).  Many are under half a metre tall, with some barely protruding the surface of the turf and include rows, circles and a variety of other shapes. Dr Sandy Gerrard’s talk will shed light on how Exmoor’s stone rows compare with those from around Britain. To conclude,  Exmoor National Park Authority archaeologists will present a summary of other recent work, along with the final year results of a project to restore some of our most recent historic assets: traditional black and white signposts.

There are still two or three tickets remaining for the 18th Exmoor Archaeology Forum. They cost £17 each, including a buffet lunch. For more information and to book a place search “archaeology forum” on the Exmoor National Park Website – www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk – or call 01398 322289.