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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1485045

Hob Uid: 1485045
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exford, Winsford
Grid Ref : SS8579137524
Summary : Fragmentary water channels visible on aerial photographs as earthworks indicate the presence of one of more post-medieval water-meadows, of a type known as catch-work or field-gutter system, on the north facing slopes of Road Hill above the River Exe. Such water meadows are typically 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 from gutter to gutter, 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. The gutters recorded here do not form a coherent pattern and it is unclear with which farmstead they may be associated. It may therefore be what is known as a detached system.
More information : Fragmentary water channels visible on aerial photographs as earthworks indicate the presence of one of more post-medieval water-meadows, of a type known as catch-work or field-gutter system, on the north facing slopes of Road Hill above the River Exe. Centred approximately on SS 85903756, the gutters are fed by two spring-fed streams, tributaries to the Exe, that flow downslope past Court Copse and Road Copse.
Such water meadows are typically 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 from gutter to gutter, 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.
Three gutters centred on circa SS 85863763, may form an unusual valley floor catch-work system, which may be earlier in date than the remainder of the system, which is typically 19th century in appearance.
The extent of the system is extended up-slope to the northern edge of Court Copse, as it is possible to infer the presence of a gutter from a visible flow of water without seeing the earthwork itself.
However, it is unclear with which farmstead this system was associated, if indeed it is a single system as it crosses the Exford-Winsford parish boundary, and it may therefore be what is known as a detached water meadow. (1-3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 54/2821 (F62) 157-8 27-APR-1964
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Source Number : 2
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) : 01-May
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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 Meadow
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 83 NE 117
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