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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1465354

Hob Uid: 1465354
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Brendon and Countisbury
Grid Ref : SS7333746308
Summary : A small and relatively simple water meadow of probable 19th century, of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible as two ditches or water channels on aerial photographs to the north-east of Lyncombe wood, Brendon parish. 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 roughly parallel channels or gutters. 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 parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
More information : A small and relatively simple water meadow of probable 19th century, of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible as two ditches or water channels on aerial photographs to the north-east of Lyncombe wood, Brendon parish, at circa SS 73354631.
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 roughly parallel channels or gutters. This water meadow system was probably fed from a spring marked on the current Ordnance Survey base map, immediately to the east towards the top of Lyncombe. 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 parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
This system does not appear to be directly attached to a farmstead and is therefore probable a "detached" system which did not enrich the pasture with any additional fertiliser, other than that which was carried to it. (1-3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3051-2 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3073-4 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 3
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 : Levelled Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 74 NW 142
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