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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1461451

Hob Uid: 1461451
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Brendon and Countisbury
Grid Ref : SS7761147433
Summary : A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch-meadow system can be seen as a series of ditches or channels on aerial photographs, on an east facing valley side between Slocombeslade Wood and Fellingscott Farm.
More information : A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch-meadow system is visible on aerial photographs as five or more water channels radiating out onto the west facing valley side from Fellingscott Farm, Brendon parish. The extensive water channels, also known as gutters, are centred on circa SS 77624760 but in total cover an area of over 3 hectares.
Catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via a series of channels or gutters. This water meadow system was possibly fed from two sources; from a point up the valley to the north of Slocomslade at circa SS 77484713 and a spring adjacent to Fellingscott Farm itself. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, thereby irrigating the slopes. This film of water prevented the ground freezing during the winter and raised the temperature of the grass in the spring, thereby encouraging early growth, particularly important during the hungry gap of the March and April. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of roughly parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
This system is also possibly an example of an `integrated system¿, where the water is passed though the farmstead to pick up manure and subsequently distribute this liquid fertaliser on the slopes.
Although similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th century, this water meadow is probably 19th century or later in origin. As can be seen on the 1947 photographs, this and other water meadows in this area continued in use well into the 20th Century (see NMR UID 1461355, 1461359, 1461364, 1461327 and 1461438). (1-5)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4040-41 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 540/853 (F20) 3013-4 29-AUG-1952
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/95026 116-7 12-MAR-1995
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Source Number : 4
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Taylor, C. (2007) The Archaeology of Water Meadows, in Water Meadows; History, Ecology and Conservation, eds. Cook. H. & Williamson, T.
Page(s) : 1
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Source Number : 5
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Cook. H. & Williamson, T. (2007) Introducing Water Meadows, in Water Meadows; History, Ecology and Conservation, eds. Cook. H. & Williamson, T.
Page(s) : 28-29
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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 : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 74 NE 120
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1461364
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1461438
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1461355
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1461359
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1461327
Relationship type : General association

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