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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1490668

Hob Uid: 1490668
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Withypool and Hawkridge
Grid Ref : SS8617032470
Summary : A water meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks on the western slopes of the Barle valley, in an area enclosed by North Barton Wood. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field-gutter system. 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 water meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks on the western slopes of the Barle valley, in an area enclosed by North Barton Wood centred at circa SS 86173247.
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.
One gutter is clearly visible, roughly following the contours of the east-facing combe slope, although it now appears to be in use as a footpath as marked on the current Ordnance Survey base map. A second gutter may be located downslope but was not clear enough to be transcribed. The marked course of footpath, continuing through the woodland to north-west and south-east, may reflect the course of the original gutter. (1-4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 4259-60 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500, 1890
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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.
Page(s) : 1
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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
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 20th Century
Monument End Date : 2000
Monument Start Date : 1901
Monument Type : Footpath
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (North Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 35785
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 83 SE 90
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