HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1488154

Hob Uid: 1488154
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exford
Grid Ref : SS8427039140
Summary : A water-meadow of probable post-medieval date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the north-west and south-east of Fords, Exford parish. It appears to be a variation of a type known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system. Catch-work water-meadows are usually found on combe or hill slopes. They 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 March to April. In contrast, this system is situated on the east bank of the River Exe, almost on the very bottom of the valley floor with only a marginal drop in elevation possible between gutters. It may be a hybrid system, operating like both a catch-work and a bedwork system, more typical of lowland situations.
More information : A water-meadow of probable post-medieval date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the north-west and south-east of Fords, formerly Higher Mill Farm, Exford parish, centred on circa SS 84273914.
It appears to be a variation of a type known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system, possibly a hybrid system operating like both a catch-work and a bedwork system.
Catch-work water-meadows are usually found on combe or hill slopes. They 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.
In contrast bedworks are more typical of lowland situations and broad river valleys. They operated by diverting water from a major watercourse, either by damming or a weir, and distributing it from a head channel over a gentle gradient via a complex system of sluices and parallel carrier channels.
The primary function of both types of water-meadow was to cover the ground with a moving film of water to prevent the ground from freezing during the winter and raise the temperature of the grass in the spring, thereby encouraging early growth. This was particularly important during the hungry gap of the March and April.
The low lying situation of this system is somewhat unusual, but it appears to be of sufficient elevation, dropping between roughly 270 and 265 metres above Ordnance Datum, to allow the required flow of water. (1-4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4281-2 11-APR-1947
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 543/2821 (F63) 0159-160 27-APR-1963
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
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-Apr
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
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) : 23-29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

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 NW 85
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