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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1465775

Hob Uid: 1465775
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Brendon and Countisbury
Grid Ref : SS7472048480
Summary : A probably 19th century water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system is visible as a ditch or water channel on aerial photographs, on the combe-side above Barton 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.
More information : A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system was constructed on a north-facing combe-side above Barton Wood, centred on circa SS 74724848, 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 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 is commonly seen on Exmoor systems, but this is a simple system with a single gutter or head-main. The source of the water is unclear, but the First Edition Ordnance Survey map, upon which the gutter is marked, indicates that a spring may be hidden within the tree line at circa SS 74794845.
It is not apparent from the aerial photographs alone which farm the water meadow is associated with. However, the absence of any visible structures in its vicinity indicates that it is probably a detached water meadow, which distributed only what fertiliser was carried to it.
It can be seen operating in April 1972, and the earthwork is still visible on aerial photographs of 1995.
(1-6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4046-7 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72065 071 15-APR-1972
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/95026 055-6 12-MAR-1995
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Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1889
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Source Number : 5
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 : 6
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 NW 176
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