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HER Number:MDV3168
Name:Peatworks at Rattlebrook Head


The remains of 19th and 20th century peat processing buildings at Rattlebrook Head. There are four buildings, the best preserved measuring 13 metres by 11 metres externally.


Grid Reference:SX 559 870
Map Sheet:SX58NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Structural remains of 19th and 20th century peat working buildings at Rattlebrook Head and tramway leading onto the moor

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX58NE43
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX58NE/1
  • Pastscape: 1063654
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PEAT WORKINGS (XIX to Mid 20th Century - 1870 AD to 1950 AD? (Between))

Full description

Minchinton, W., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV2310.

West of england compressed peat company works, rattlebrook head. In 1901, a plant was set up to carbonise peat to make it into a commercial fuel. Similar to coal, this fuel had a combustion rate too rapid to make it economical to use. Only a few ruins remain of the works, but the extensive peat beds can be seen at kitty tor. The plant was extensive and expensive, and a branch railway several miles long was built by the company to connect their works with the main line of the sw railway at bridestowe station. Very little of the prepared peat was sold, and the works became idle after a few years and fell into decay (minchinton).

RCHM APP 1985, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253237.

Peat cutting visible and recorded (rchm app 1985).

1906, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253238.

'rattlebrook peat works' shown on os 6" (1906) map.

1965, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253239.

'rattlebrook peat works (disused)' shown on os 6" (1965) map.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253240.

Radford, d. /tda/21(1889)208/the natural storage of water on dartmoor.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253241.

Minchinton, w. /industrial archaeology in devon/(1973)26.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253242.

Copeland, g. W. /tda/84(1952)329/21st report of the plymouth branch.

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV253243.

Aph=raf cpe uk 2082/4374(19/5/1947).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253244.

Des=os 6"(1906)map sheet 88ne.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV253245.

Des=os 6"(1965)map.

COPELAND, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV33318.

Company was formed in 1878 for the extraction of peat and railway line laid in 1879. The enterprise was never very successful but some peat is still dug for agricultural use. Old ruined works at the end of the line (copeland).

English Heritage, 2005, Industrial Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV346396.

National Monument Record, 2016, Pastscape, Accessed 22/09/2016 (Website). SDV359354.

Four ruined buildings associated with peat extraction and processing lie at Rattlebrook Head, at SX 5596 8708. Building 1 is the best preserved, measuring 13m by 11m externally. It has exterior walls of dresed granite blocks, standing up to ten courses high, with maximum dimensions of 1.8m high and 1m wide. The interior walls, of bricks stamped "Martin Leemoor", survive up to seven courses high. The infill is of mortar and granite rubble. A gap 0.6m wide in the centre of the western wall may be a window opening; a gap of similar dimensions in the centre of the eastern wall may be for access to the baulk road to the peat cutting areas on Kitty Tor. The remains of six possible brick-built vaults survive on the floor of this building; there are some iron ties in the walls.
Building 2 is badly damaged. Its external dimensions are 13m by 8m. The walls are of dresed granite blocks, up to two courses high, and measure up to 1.5m high (externally) and 0.8m wide. Associated debris suggests that the upper part was built of pre-fabricated concrete with iron girders. In the centre of this building are the remains of a metal ined brick stoke-hole, which has an internal diameter of 1.3m. Building 3, immediately to the south of building 2, has external dimensions of 12m by 8m. Its walls survive as one course of granite blocks, up to 1.3m high and 0.4m wide. In the southwestern corner a concrete block with two iron bolts is set into the concrete floor, forming the base for some kind of machinery. Immediately to the west of this building is a small concrete apron, 5m by 3m. Between buildings 2 and 4 are the remains of two brick sheds.
Building 4 measures 10m by 7m externally. Its walls are of dressed granite blocks, standing up to eight courses high, and measuring 0.8m in height and 0.5m in width. To the south is a circular concrete apron; a rectangular concrete structure to the west may cover a storage tank. Building 5, a concrete base measuring 11m by 5m, may be the remains of a pre-fabricated drying shed.
To the east of buidling 1 a baulk road runs out for some 400m to the peat sutting areas on the western slopes of Kitty Tor and Amicombe Hill. It is constructed of wooden baulk timbers, set 0.8m apart and infilled with granite blocks, on a causeway 1.5m wide.
A railway (SX 58 NW 29) connected the peatworks to the main railway line at Bridestowe. The line of the track is now used as a military road (citing Riley, H., Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments in England Field Investigation, 17/08/1994).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV2310Migrated Record: Minchinton, W..
SDV253237Migrated Record: RCHM APP 1985.
SDV253238Migrated Record: 1906.
SDV253239Migrated Record: 1965.
SDV253240Migrated Record:
SDV253241Migrated Record:
SDV253242Migrated Record:
SDV253243Aerial Photograph:
SDV253244Migrated Record:
SDV253245Migrated Record:
SDV33318Migrated Record: COPELAND.
SDV346396Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Industrial Survey Information. English Heritage. Digital. [Mapped features: #87195 ; #87196 ]
SDV359354Website: National Monument Record. 2016. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. Accessed 22/09/2016.

Associated Monuments

MDV128736Related to: Bleak House, Rattle Brook (Monument)
MDV39665Related to: Tramway at Rattlebrook Peat Works (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jul 7 2020 3:58PM