The Commons, Exmoor
Following disafforestation, manors gained control of their own commons yet, were not always successful in maintaining it. Disputes were taken to the courts, which maintained common rights and punished infringements. Individuals and groups of people were punished for abusing the commons. There was always a temptation to overstock to increase yields.
The communities of southern Exmoor had to know the boundaries of their commons. Some bounds were clearly marked such as the "Cornell" ditch that divided common rights at Anstey in the 1530s. Others had stones or trees at intervals that needed to be memorised.