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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1473569

Hob Uid: 1473569
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Luccombe
Grid Ref : SS8744444457
Summary : A probable 19th century water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of ditches or water channels to the south-east of Pool Farm, Luccombe parish. Catchwork systems are usually found on 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 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. A single spring fed gutter or head main to the north of Pool Farm also probably acted as a simple water meadow.
More information : A probable 19th century water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of ditches or water channels to the south and east of Pool Farm, Luccombe parish, centred on circa SS 86584493. A single spring fed gutter or head main, 200 metres to the north of Pool Farm, at circa SS 87384451, also probably acted as a simple water meadow and although the gutter itself is only partially visible, it can be seen in operation, flooding the slopes to the north, on aerial photographs of 1946. It is probable this spring fed gutter was also associated with Pool farm.
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 one or more 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 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 a common feature of Exmoor systems.
The main water meadow recorded here was probably fed directly from Pool Combe, but it is not clear whether the water was passed through the farmyard to pick up manure prior to flooding the slopes. (1-6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106UK/1655 4090-1 (F20) 11-JUN-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/79013 255-6 17-APR-1973
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106UK/1501 4199-4200 (F20) 13-MAY-1946
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Source Number : 4
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : ENPA MAL IR 77013 088-089 20-MAY-1977
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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, Conjectural Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 84 SE 175
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1473560
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1473564
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