A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
March 22, 2023
Amicombe Hill Peat Cutters’ Bond Stones
Historical records suggest the lifespan of the Rattlebrook Head Peat Works ran from around 1867 through to 1931 following the first sett licence being granted in January 1867. At that time a Doe Tor sett licence was also granted and the two setts combined. The main peat extraction (but not all) was undertaken to the east of the Rattlebrook and the peat / turf ties from the works can be easily discerned from most vantage points from near Dunna Goat Tors to the tramway embankment. The Rattlebrook was (more or less) the western boundary of the extraction with the eastern boundary being (more or less) from a point 500m north east of Rattlebrook Head following a line, past Kitty Tor to a point around 1km south east of Bleak House.
An entry in the Dartmoor Historic Environment Record records that there is a standing stone on Amicombe Hill at the south east corner of the aforementioned peat extraction area. The record further states that there was a further recumbent stone 5m away and that these were most likely erected by Peat Cutters. With this information, the author’s visit to the area not only discovered the aforementioned stones but also a third upright stone approx 40-50m away, which hadn’t been previously recorded. With further research, the author has established that these three stones lie on the eastern boundary of the main peat extraction area thus suggesting they may well represent the boundary and all three stones are Peat Cutters Bond Stones.
Domestic and Industrial Peat Cutting on North-Western Dartmoor, Devonshire: An archaeological and historical investigation – Dr Phil Newman
M.Gillard, 2018, Standing stone at Amicombe (Correspondence). HER Reference SDV363717
ADDENDUM: Approx 9 months after this post was originally published the author read and article in the Dartmoor News, Issue 192, Dec 2023 / Jan 2024 (pages 20-22), which was titled “Amicombe Hill Peat Cutters’ Boundstones”. The article referenced this post but intriguingly suggested that there were six boundstones (or bondstones) on Amicombe Hill not just the three covered in the original post. The article stated : “Returning to Kitty Tor, you will pass markers 4-6, which can be found at SX56946 86773, SX56951 86782 and SX56965 86797. Running to the east away from the turf ties, there may be more of these supposed markers as there appears to be a line of them here. None rise high above the ground”. With this information, the author decided to investigate and add to the original post.
Having now visited the 6 possible peat cutter boundstones, in the authors humble opinion only numbers 1-3 would be strong contenders as marker stones by virtue of their ‘look’ and location on the boundary of the 2009 turf tie lidar plots. The author, on the balance of probability would discount markers 4-6 due to their ‘look’ (earthbound and very low to the ground) and their location (away from the turf ties). Of course, many artefacts on the moor are down to personal interpretation and opinion. The author would not wish to be disrespectful to others interpretations / opinions, especially the author of the Dartmoor News article and suggests if any readers of this post visit the area they draw their own conclusions.