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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 926211

Hob Uid: 926211
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Brendon and Countisbury
Grid Ref : SS7386246584
Summary : Earthworks on an east facing slope to the south of South Cheriton Farm, previously identified as cultivation terraces, are now thought to be part of an extensive water meadow system of 19th century date that extends eastwards towards Farley Water. Known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, this type of water meadow is usually found on steep combe sides and is designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides 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. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
More information : SS 7382 4660. McDonnell (1) depicts a complex of low earthworks, possibly a hollow way and house platforms visible on air photos (2). (1-2)

The fields to the S of South Cheriton Farm, an area of about 2ha centred at SS 7375 4656, have been under improved pastureland for many years. The remains of a series of about 6 cultivation terraces, 10m to 15m wide and about 1.5m maximum height, cross the E-facing slope in a N/S direction.

At SS 7372 4661 a short length of hollow way leads to the modern farm buildings.

No trace of house platforms was identified.

No survey action. (3)

Earthworks to the south of South Cheriton Farm, centred on circa SS 73754656 on an east facing slope, were previously identified as cultivation terraces. These earthworks are now thought to be part of an extensive water meadow system of 19th century date that extends eastwards for over 200 metres towards Farley Water, and is actually centred on circa SS 73854657.
Known locally as a catchwork or field-gutter system, this type of water meadow is usually found on steep combe sides and is designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides 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. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems.
The earthworks originally recorded above are probably the remains of gutters which had already been plough damaged by 1947. The gutters to the east have been similarly levelled by 1995.
(4-6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : McDonnell R, CRAAGS Exmoor AP Survey 1977-85
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3050-1 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Sainsbury I S, 25-OCT-94, RCHME Field Investigation
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Source Number : 4
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS95026 057 12-MAR-1995
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Source Number : 5
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 : 6
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) : 28-29
Figs. :
Plates :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval, Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Water Meadow
Evidence : Levelled Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SS74NW67
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 18010
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MDE11721
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 74 NW 61
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1464948
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1464988
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1464993
Relationship type : General association

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