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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1099675

Hob Uid: 1099675
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS7745636591
Summary : A post medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks south-east of Wintershead Farm, Exmoor. A series of approximately parallel gutters were used to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Wintershead, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields.
More information : A post medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as aseries of earthworks across fields south-east of Wintershead Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7744 3665, several gutters are visible stretching across a steep south-west facing slope above an un-named stream. The gutters extend across five fields, covering an area of some 16 hectares. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Wintershead Farm, and possibly Wintershead cottage as well, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields.
Most of the Exmoor "improvement farms" constructed in the mid-19th century have some form of water meadow system; the land agent employed by the family, Robert Smith, was considered an expert in water meadows, and constructed a great number of them within the former Royal Forest.
Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. Most catchwater meadows are believed to date to the post medieval period, although it is possible that they were first developed in the medieval period (1-4).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Francis P 1984 A Survey and Description of the catch meadow irrigation systems
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 4449-50 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 3
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Cook, H. and Williamson, T. 2007 "Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation" Windgather Press, Cambridge page(s) 1-7, 28-29
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Source Number : 4
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Orwin, C.S. 1929 "The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest" Oxford University Press, London page(s) 55, 77
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Water Meadow
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 34366
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO6928
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 73 NE 32
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01