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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1490449

Hob Uid: 1490449
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Dulverton
Grid Ref : SS8810032460
Summary : A small water meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the south of Lower Spire Cottages, Dulverton parish. It is unclear from the aerial photographs alone whether the system was associated with Lower Spire Cottages or is part of a much larger water-meadow system to the west associated with Liscombe Farm. Such water meadows are usually 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, 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.
More information : A small water meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the south of Lower Spire Cottages, at circa SS 88103246.
This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field-gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is carried along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters and 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 and April.
It probably tapped a tributary to the River Barle that flows to the south of the water-meadow. However, it is unclear from the aerial photographs alone whether the system was associated with Lower Spire Cottages or is part of a much larger water-meadow system to the west associated with Liscombe Farm. If it is a stand-alone system it is very small, covering less than one hectare slopes. As this stream also supplied elements of the Liscombe Farm system, a degree of organisation would have been required between settlements. The gutters cannot be seen on aerial photographs of 1972. (1-4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 106G/UK/1944 3164 23-JAN-1947
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72314 435-6 16-AUG-1972
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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.
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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) : 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 SE 70
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