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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1488250

Hob Uid: 1488250
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Withypool and Hawkridge
Grid Ref : SS8495036200
Summary : Evidence for a simple water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s as earthworks to the north-east of Withypool. It is probably of a type known variously as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system. They were designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters, although simple examples consisting of only a single gutter are common. 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 : Evidence for a water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, as earthworks to the north-east of Withypool, centred on circa SS 84883590.
It is a simple example of a type known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system, found typically on the combe sides or hill slopes of Exmoor. These were designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters, although simple examples consisting of only a single gutter are common. 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 can be seen in operation on aerial photographs of 1947. To the north of the visible earthworks, evidence for further gutters can be seen in the form of a flush of water on the combe sides, indicating gutters in use. However, the earthworks themselves are not visible; it was common practice to dig gutters adjacent to field boundaries which often obscured the earthworks from view on the aerial photographs.
The system probably tapped the spring-fed stream that rises immediately to the east. It is not apparent from the aerial photographs alone to which holding this systems belonged.
The gutters are not visible on later aerial photographs and may have passed out of use. (1-5)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4356-7 11-APR-1947
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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 98
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