The Archaeology of Hill Farming on Exmoor

BookThe Archaeology of Hill Farming on Exmoor

The Archaeology of Hill Farming on Exmoor

English Heritage


October 15th, 2014





The story of hill farming on Exmoor is told here for the first time through archaeological evidence newly revealed after two years of systematic survey work. This compelling narrative of human endeavour against a beguiling, yet harsh landscape takes the reader from the pioneer farmers of the medieval period through to the inexhaustible energy of the Victorian ‘improvers’ who transformed the landscape of Exmoor. The focus of the book is the battle – and it is a battle – to make the wastes and moorland of this upland landscape as productive as possible.

Meticulous survey work is presented showing how nearly 700 years of ‘reclamation’ on the royal forest of Exmoor, its surrounding commons and its hill farms, has helped to shape the landscape of Exmoor National Park. This includes recent air photographs, reconstructions, detailed plans and maps.

This book will appeal to those who know and love Exmoor; those with an interest in hill farming and how the uplands have been farmed through time; and those who wish to know more about Victorian innovation.

This beautifully illustrated volume from English Heritage is the result of two years of meticulous field survey work. ... The use of aerial photographs, reconstructions and detailed maps and plans make this an attractive as well as informative volume for those interested in history both of Exmoor iteself and more generally, hill farming and the role of Victorian innovation.
Rural History Today

... provides a perspective that combines an important narrative of the 'big picture', with nuanced, detailed and effective local case studies, and is worth reading to enrich any trip to this much-visited location.
Agricultural History Review

... this exceptionally well illustrated survey ...
British Archaeology

This is a well-written and handsomely-produced book, splendidly illustrated and evidently the result of much dedicated research.
Joe Bettey, Somerset Archaeology & Natural History

... a readable and illuminating study of how Exmoor was exploited from medieval times onwards.
Bob Silvester, Medieval Settlement Research

Clwyd-Powys Archaeolgical Trust

... an authoritative account of a diverse and challenging upland landscape which repays detailed examination.
Hazel Riley, Landscape History

If you want an example of outstanding interdisciplinary publishing, this is it. ... In a short review it is impossible to do justice to the quality of the evidence and its assessment by the authors. ... The quality of the illustrations - full colour throughout - is outstanding, and, overall, this is an exemplary example of how to publish landscape research.
Stephen Rippon, Medieval Archaeology

Univeristy of Exeter

Author Information

Cain Hegarty is an aerial survey investigator. Rob Wilson-North is Conservation Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Section 1 The royal forest
Section 2 The commons
Section 3 The farmland
Primary sources