Corduroy Road – copying the past

Flanders Moss NNR


We were road building on Flanders Moss this week, corduroy road building.


With our trusty band of volunteers adding a winning combination of brains and muscle to the staff team, we set to work to make a very boggy part of an access track onto Flanders passable for quad bikes and tracked vehicles. We had got a price from a contractor to building a bridge but with tightening budgets we decided that surely we could do as well for nothing. So we cut a load of Scots pine regeneration that needed to be removed from the moss anyway, snedded the trunks and transported them to the crossing point. There the volunteers set to and constructed a road strong enough to enable the machinery to pass over without sinking in. The trunks lie parallel to each other, held together by stobs at each end and this platform spreads the weight of any machinery going over.

We are not sure how long it will last but seeing as the materials cost nothing even if it lasts a year then it has been value for money and a fun tasks for us and our volunteers.


Here is the team on the finished structure. I then had the honour of being the first to drive a vehicle over it, our iron horse low ground pressure load carrying vehicle, and it worked fine.
Everyone in the team help carrying wood for the structure.

But of course this isn’t a new idea.

5000 years ago people living in the area were doing a very similar thing. 20 years ago a 4500-5000 year old Neolithic platform was excavated about 2 miles to the south of our road. This was constructed partially of round timber laid in the same way and the platform was built on the edge of what was then a much more extensive area of wetland and bog. The suggest is that this ancient platform was used for groups to gather on the bog edge before and after hunting expeditions into the historic Flanders Moss.

And at a similar time roads of exactly the same design as ours were being built on the Avalon Marshes in Somerset to allow people easy access across huge wetlands.

So we can’t claim credit for the idea but just the delivery.

See more information :

Excavation of a Neolithic Wooden Platform, Stirlingshire
By Clare Ellis, Anne Crone, Eileen Reilly and Paul Hughes

Parks of Garden, a Neolithic site in southern Scotland, is located within a thin wedge of peat which abuts a ridge of glacial moraine that stretches across the Upper Forth river valley. The site comprises a rapidly constructed small wooden platform dating to 3340-2920 cal BC, within the Early Neolithic period of Scotland. The platform may have functioned as a transitory hunting hide and as a preparation area for hunting and gathering expeditions across the fen and into the salt-marshes of the local environment.





Clare Ellis

AOC Archaeology The Schoolhouse, 4 Lochend Road, Leith, Edinburgh

pages 51 – 66

Click to access vol_23_text.pdf

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1 Response to Corduroy Road – copying the past

  1. Pingback: Doing things the old way? – Nature-Watching in Europe

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