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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1500374

Hob Uid: 1500374
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Withypool and Hawkridge
Grid Ref : SS8456030820
Summary : A water-meadow of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthwork water-channels to the south of Shircombe Farm, with which it was possibly associated. The gutters form a type of water-meadow known as catchwork, catch-water 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 earthwork water-channels centred on circa SS 84563082, south of Shircombe Farm, with which it was possibly associated.
The gutters form a type of water-meadow known as a catchwork, catch-water or field-gutter system. Such water-meadows are commonly found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring, stream or river. The water was carried along the slopes by the gutters and when irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow from gutter to gutter, thereby evenly irrigating the slopes. This film of water prevented the ground freezing during the winter and raised the temperature of the soil in the spring thereby encouraging an early growth of grass, particularly important during the hungry gap of March and April.
The gutters have probably been levelled by 1976. (1-4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR NMR RAF 106G/UK/1420 (F20) 3458-9 15-APR-1946
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR MAL 76068 044-5 04-AUG-1976
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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.
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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.
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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 : Levelled Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 83 SW 125
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