The Brendon Hills form an elongated ridge located mainly within West Somerset, to the east of Exmoor. The terrain is deeply incised by streams and rivers running roughly southwards to the Haddeo River, a tributary of the River Exe. The area has been subjected to intense agricultural improvement over the last century and few archaeological sites remain upstanding; the area was regarded to have a generally low monument density prior to the survey.
Archaeology of the Brendon Hills
Lying at the heart of the Brendon Hills is an area with extensive remains of industrial features associated with past mineral extraction such as iron stone mining, and associated industrial activities. These features accounted for nearly 20% of the sites recorded.
The majority of new sites were post medieval agricultural features. In this part of Exmoor, catch meadow irrigation systems are common on the sides of stream and river valleys. These are systems of parallel linear field gutters aligned with the contours (akin to leats). Each system is fed by a pond in which a mixture of water and slurry is collected. This mixture then seeps down-slope out of the gutters, fertilising the pasture. At the request of the Exeter Field Office, all gutters not already recorded on the current OS base map were mapped. In total 188 of these water meadows were recorded.
One site initially thought to be the remains of a former garden earthwork were subsequently identified by the field survey as a potential Roman signal station, much of the site still visible as earthworks partially obscured by the buildings of a post medieval farm.
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