Walking through the Past - Exmoor & Quantocks
Exmoor is an area of high land overlooking the Bristol Channel. It is now mostly heathland but has been being reclaimed for farming for over a century. The highest point is Dunkery Beacon at 519m.
The headlands have revealed evidence of Mesolithic settlement, the combination of coastal water and high ground seems to be a feature of most Mesolithic nomadic areas. They fished in summer and followed animals into the hills to hunt in later months.
There is little Neolithic evidence on Exmoor, but plenty of Bronze Age activity. There are stone circles and alignments, cairns and huts. The area has a large concentration of hillforts. Many are intervisible. The Romans employed their usual technique for mountainous areas they didn’t see the point in invading. The south of Exmoor is ringed with forts to keep an eye on comings and goings. On the north coast there are two fortlets with signal towers.
About the Quantocks
The Quantocks are a line of hills stretching from Taunton to the Bristol Channel. The views stretch from Exmoor and the Blackdowns to Wales. With a rich population of wildlife this was the first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain. The highest point is Wills Neck at 386m.
The moorland is littered with Bronze Age cairns. They appear on virtually every summit and long chains of them stretch along the ridges. There are several ancient tracks along and across the hills still in use today. They started out as drove routes to avoid the surrounding wetland. There is a high density of Iron Age hillforts and settlements. The coastline is great for fossil hunting.