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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1488184

Hob Uid: 1488184
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exford
Grid Ref : SS8408538674
Summary : A possible simple water-meadow of post-medieval date is visible as an earthwork channel to the north-east of South Ley. They form a type of water-meadow known variously as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system. Such water-meadows are typical of Exmoor and 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 one or more 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.
More information : A possible simple water-meadow of post-medieval date is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork channels to the north-east of South Ley on south-east facing slopes above the River Exe, at circa SS 84093868.
It is probably a simple variation on the type known as catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter systems, which are found typically on combe or hill slopes. They are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via channels or gutters. When more than one gutter was present, they were cut in a roughly parallel arrangement. When irrigation was required the feeder gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow downslope from gutter to gutter, thereby irrigating the pasture. 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.
From the aerial photographs and map evidence available to the survey, it is unclear in this instance from where the system was supplied with water. (1-3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3281-2 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 1
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
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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-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 NW 89
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