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HER Number:MDV107561
Name:Peat Charcoal Burning Platforms at Langcombe Head


Site of at least eleven peat charcoal burning platforms at Langcombe Head


Grid Reference:SX 619 661
Map Sheet:SX66NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of possible prehistoric barrow surrounded by later peat stands at Langcombe Head

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHARCOAL BURNING PLATFORM (Constructed, XI to XIX - 1100 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

Butler, J., 1994, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West, 148-155, Map 50 (Monograph). SDV137656.

Newman, P., 2012, The Archaeological Legacy of the Carbonarii on Dartmoor – Interim Statement and Gazetter of Peat Charcoal Burning Sites, Langcombe Head (Report - Interim). SDV356948.

A cluster of at least eleven earthwork mounds which are likely candidates as 'Meiler' platforms.
The existence of a peat charcoal industry on Dartmoor has its origins in the 12th century or earlier. Peat charcoal was used for iron smithing and tin smelting from the Medieval period until the 19th century. It provided a major income for Dartmoor residents. Large areas of suitable peat would have been harvested and dried before being burned to produce charcoal. The platforms onto which these ‘meilers’ were constructed are the only field evidence for the process.
‘Meiler’ platforms comprise raised, usually circular, earthworks with level tops. Although similar to peat drying platforms they lack the peripheral drainage ditch and charcoal samples confirm their use. The level platform was prepared with circular tiers of dried peat bricks with horizontal vents to admit a controlled air flow.
Sites for peat charcoal burning were always on raised ground within areas of visible turf cutting and, on Dartmoor, between altitudes 465 metres and 545 metres OD. The cutting was often extensive and sometimes areas were denuded of peat. The platforms recorded so far are mostly organised in clusters at single locations suggesting that burning was undertaken at regional hubs.

Richards, A., 2014, Langcombe Hill (Personal Comment). SDV357001.

Newman gives a National Grid Reference of SX61926550 which is on Langcombe Hill. Langcombe Head is at SX61756616. The 465 metre contour at Langcombe Head is at SX61926610. This Grid Reference has therefore been used for this monument.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV137656Monograph: Butler, J.. 1994. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Three. Paperback Volume. 148-155, Map 50.
SDV356948Report - Interim: Newman, P.. 2012. The Archaeological Legacy of the Carbonarii on Dartmoor – Interim Statement and Gazetter of Peat Charcoal Burning Sites. South-West Landscape Investigations. Digital. Langcombe Head.
SDV357001Personal Comment: Richards, A.. 2014. Langcombe Hill. [Mapped feature: #2176 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV122892Related to: Charcoal burning platforms on Langcombe Hill. Shaugh Prior (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6556 - Survey of peat charcoal burning sites around Dartmoor Forest
  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley
  • EDV8148 - The Upper Plym Valley: The Management of an Historic Landscape
  • EDV8965 - Aerial survey of guardianship sites on Dartmoor

Date Last Edited:Apr 16 2024 4:17PM