More about Commons Rights

More about Commoners’ Rights and Duties

A large part of the Quantock Hills is ‘Commons land’,

Common land is land owned by one person over which another person (a Commoner) has certain rights (such as grazing his animals or cutting bracken for livestock bedding). This is an ancient custom going right back to mediaval times.

Rights of common can include:

  • HERBAGE: grazing sheep or cattle
  • TURBARY: taking peat or turf
  • ESTOVERS: taking wood, gorse or furze
  • PISCARY: taking of fish
  • PANNAGE: eating of acorns or beechmast by pigs

On the Quantocks the main right exercised is herbage. A number of farmers graze sheep and some ponies on the common. The farmers have to check their stock regularly to ensure they are healthy. They will also take all their sheep off the common twice a year. This is to shear (remove the coats called fleeces) the sheep and give them a thorough inspection.

  • A group of Commoners at round-up.
    A group of Commoners at round-up.

The main Quantock Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has to be managed in a sensitive manner. Those farmers who have rights of common entered into a Countryside Stewardship Scheme which subsidises the farmers for grazing their sheep on the Quantock Common.