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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1488271

Hob Uid: 1488271
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Withypool and Hawkridge
Grid Ref : SS8453035690
Summary : A possible water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s, as earthworks at Withypool. It is probably of a type known variously as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system. Such systems 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 : A possible water-meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen on aerial photographs of the 1940s, as very subtle earthworks on the south-east facing slopes above the River Barle at Withypool, centred on circa SS 84533569.
It is of a type found typically on the combe sides or hill slopes of Exmoor, known as a catch-work, ditch-gutter or field-gutter system, and covers an area of less than one hectare. Catch-works 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 features can be seen in operation on aerial photographs of 1947, but the source of water used by the system is not clear from the aerial photographs or maps available to the survey. (1-5)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4358-9 11-APR-1947
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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-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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Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1889
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Source Number : 5
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1903
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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 102
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