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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1465431

Hob Uid: 1465431
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Lynton and Lynmouth
Grid Ref : SS7155046630
Summary : A water meadow of probable 19th Century, of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible as a series of ditches or water channels on aerial photographs to the west of North Sparhanger, Lynton and Lynmouth 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 post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system was constructed on a west facing slope above the West Lyn River at circa SS 71554663, to west of North Sparhanger.
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. 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 may be an example of a ¿detached system¿, where the gutters are not directly connected to a farmstead. The head main gutters of ¿Integrated¿ systems pass through, or are otherwise connected to the farmstead, to pick up manure and subsequently distribute this liquid fertaliser on the slopes.
Nonetheless, this small watermeadow is probably associated with the farm at North Sparhanger. A more extensive system can be seen across the river on the east facing combe slopes of the West Lyn River.

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3070-1 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/95026 023-4 12-MAR-1995
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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 NW 149
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1465435
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