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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1477774

Hob Uid: 1477774
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exford
Grid Ref : SS8285541090
Summary : A ditch visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs to the east of Wellshead Plantation, and probably used as a footpath, may be the remains of a nineteenth century water channel of a type known as a leat or field gutter, possibly forming a simple water meadow known as a catchwork or field-gutter system. These are usually found on combe 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.
More information : A ditch visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs to the east of Wellshead Plantation may be the remains of a nineteenth century water channel of a type known as a leat or field gutter, possibly forming a simple water meadow known as a catchwork or field-gutter system. The earthwork can be seen for approximately 575 metres from circa SS 82824136 to SS 82824081. The gutter probably directly tapped water from Allcombe Water at a point roughly 50 metres to the north, which returned to the river via a feeder stream at its southern end.
Such catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe or hillsides 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.
The channel had probably gone out of use for irrigation by the publication of the First Edition Ordnance Survey map in 1889 and was subsequently used as a footpath.
(1-3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 3067-8 13-MAY-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1889
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Source Number : 3
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 Channel, 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 84 SW 224
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 974866
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