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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1485099

Hob Uid: 1485099
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exford
Grid Ref : SS8627038790
Summary : An extensive water-meadow of probable 19th century date, of a type known as a catch-work or field gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the west of Stone Farm. 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 visible gutters cover an area of up to 20 hectares and more may be present but not visible on the available aerial photographs. However, a difficulty exists in identifying the true extent of this system. There is clearly a close relationship between the holdings of Stone and Prescott to the north-west and it is unclear from the photographs alone precisely where the division between the two lies. It is probable that the water-meadows for both farms were laid out contemporaneously and there was almost certainly an element of cooperation required in the maintenance and operation of the systems. The extent of the system here identified with Stone is therefore somewhat arbitrary and based on the aerial evidence alone; further work is required to identify the true extent or the farm holdings.
More information : An extensive water-meadow of probable 19th century date, of a type known as a catch-work or field gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the west of Stone Farm at circa SS 86273879.
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.
Approximately 30 gutters are visible at Stone covering an area of up to 20 hectares, cutting the line of several field boundaries, extant and relict. It is probable that more are present but not visible on the available aerial photographs. However, a difficulty exists in identifying the true extent of this system. There is clearly a close relationship and some interaction between the holdings of Stone and Prescott to the north-west and it is unclear from the photographs alone precisely where the division between the two water-meadows lies. It is probable that the water-meadows for both farms were laid out contemporaneously and there was almost certainly an element of cooperation required in the maintenance and operation of the systems. The extent of the system here identified with Stone is therefore somewhat arbitrary and based on the aerial evidence alone; further work is required to identify the true extent or the farm holdings. (1-6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3278-9 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 54/2821 (F63) 156-7 27-APR-1964
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Source Number : 3
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SS 8638/9 (NMR 24928/20) 12-FEB-2008
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Source Number : 4
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SS 8639/1 (NMR 24928/25) 12-FEB-2008
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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-Sep
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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 123
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 974646
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