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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1491900

Hob Uid: 1491900
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS8056033640
Summary : A series of roughly parallel water channels are visible on aerial photographs as earthworks at Litton Farm, about 400metres to the south-east of Withypool Cross. They form a type of water meadow of probable 19th century date 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 series of roughly parallel water channels are visible on aerial photographs as earthworks at Litton Farm, formerly Crooked Post, centred on circa SS 80563364 about 400metres to the south-east of Withypool Cross
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.
The water meadow is located at the head of a shallow combe and supplied with water by two springs, one to the east of the farm and one to the south.
The system is visible at least partially in use on aerial photographs taken in 1964 but by 1973 they appear unused and in need of maintenance. (1-5)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 4250-1 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 543/2821 (F61) 0253-4 27-APR-1964
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Source Number : 3
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/73086 702-3 17-APR-1973
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Source Number : 4
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 : 5
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 : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 34373
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 83 SW 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