For five years from 1976 to 1980 the archaeology and environment of a block of landscape centred around Shaugh Moor on south-west Dartmoor were analysed prior to the destruction of some of the evidence by china clay working. The investigations began in 1976 with a survey of the field monuments and the initiation of soil, vegetation, small mammal and phosphate studies in addition to the search for peat deposits of sufficient antiquity. From 1977 the programme was determined by the encroachment of the quarries and other works, so that early in that year a group of cairns were excavated (site 10) and subsequently the first of two seasons work on a walled enclosure (site 15) was initiated. The excavation of the enclosure was completed in 1978 and in that year it was also necessary to undertake a small investigation near the northern edge of the project area on the Trowlesworthy cross-dyke (site 202) and near its southern edge on Wotter Playground (site 201). Settlements and field systems were surveyed and excavated on Wotter Common in 1979 and these investigations were completed in 1980 when the Saddlesborough Reave, which crosses the centre of the project area from east to west was also surveyed in detail and sampled by excavation.
More field work could have been undertaken on threatened areas and indeed a limited operation was undertaken in 1981 on the Saddlesborough Reave to confirm some points of detail. Instead, it was thought best to conclude the project after five years, to complete the publication of the results and to allow mature consideration of these so as to generate a new set of questions.
At an early stage the decision was taken to publish the work as a series of annual reports in these Proceedings rather than as a single monograph. The first report (Wainwright et al. 1979) set out the simple research design for the project and contained accounts of the 1976 survey and of the excavation of the cairn group.