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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1466857

Hob Uid: 1466857
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Brendon and Countisbury
Grid Ref : SS7452049530
Summary : A probable water meadow of 19th century date, of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible as two parallel ditches on aerial photographs, to the south Countisbury village. Catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel water 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.
More information : A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs as at least two water channels on the north-west facing slope of South Hill, to the south of Countisbury. The water channels, also known as gutters, are centred on circa SS 74524953.
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 is unlikely to have been fed from the spring at circa SS 74464951, as it is downslope from the gutters, but it is probable a second spring issues closer to the 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 roughly parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
This system is an example of a `detached system¿, where the water meadow distributes only what fertiliser is carried to it. (1-4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3147-8 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/95026 053-4 12-MAR-1995
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Source Number : 3
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 : 4
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 210
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