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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1470534

Hob Uid: 1470534
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS7309640228
Summary : A post medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks in a field to the south-west of Driver Farm, Exmoor. A series of approximately parallel gutters were used to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. This system does not appear to be connected to any local farmyards, suggesting that this was a detached system which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure or other fertilisers. It seems probable that the water meadow was constructed around the same time as Driver Farm, about 1845.
More information : A post medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks in a field to the south-west of Driver Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7312 4016, four roughly parallel ditches are visible located on a fairly steep south facing slope. The ditches run approximately east-west along the contours of the slope and appear to drain into an un-named tributary of the River Barle at SS 7318 4021.
This system does not appear to be connected to any local farmyards, suggesting that this was a detached system which only distributed water to the fields and not liquid manure or other fertilisers. It seems probable that the water meadow was constructed around the same time as Driver Farm, about 1845. Frederic Winn Knight, the owner of the Exmoor Forest after 1841 and builder of Driver Farm, employed a land agent named Robert Smith who was considered an expert in water meadow systems, and constructed many of them across Exmoor. Smith may have introduced water meadows at Driver to boost flagging interest in the farm lets on Exmoor (3).
Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters were used to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. Most catchwater meadows are believed to date to the post medieval period, although it is possible that they were first developed in the medieval period (1-3).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 4146-47 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Cook, H and Williamson, T 2007 "Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation" Windgather Press, Cambridge page(s) 1-7, 28-29
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Source Number : 3
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Orwin, C.S 1929 "The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest" Oxford University Press, London, page(s) 54-55, 77
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1830
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 SW 186
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