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HER Number:MDV107566
Name:Peat Charcoal Burning Platform on Zeal Plains

Summary

Site of at least one peat charcoal burning platform on Zeal Plains

Location

Grid Reference:SX 650 662
Map Sheet:SX66NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • Peat Burning Platform (Constructed, XI to XIX - 1100 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

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

At least one definite 'meiler' platform in a disturbed area to the south-east of Red Lake clay pit. Other more amorphous earthworks in the vicinity may also prove to be 'meilers' though as yet unverified. The platform was transected by the builders of the Zeal Tor Tramway in the 19th century.
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.

Newman, P., 2018, Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet) (Cartographic). SDV361913.

Newman, P., 2018, The Upper Erme Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, Appendix 1 (Report - Survey). SDV362921.

At least one definite meiler platform in a disturbed area south-east of Red Lake clay pit. Other more amorphous earthworks in the vicinity may also prove to be meilers, though are as yet are unverified.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV356948Report - Interim: Newman , P.. 2012. The Archaeological Legacy of the Carbonarii on Dartmoor – Interim Statement and Gazetter of Peat Charcoal Burning Sites. Digital. Zeal Plains. [Mapped feature: #2180 ]
SDV361913Cartographic: Newman, P.. 2018. Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet). GIS ShapeFile. Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6556 - Survey of peat charcoal burning sites around Dartmoor Forest
  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley

Date Last Edited:Sep 27 2019 9:39AM