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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1477888

Hob Uid: 1477888
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS8088342013
Summary : Post-medieval ditches are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs forming an extensive drainage system of across the slopes of Beckham, Exmoor parish. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at improvement, possibly associated with the construction of Tom's Hill Farm around 1850. Many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but did not address the underlying issue of compacted ironpan soils and failed to provide adequate drainage for improvement. Similar drainage systems are visible in the surrounding areas, some draining into natural streams and water courses, others appearing to drain into contour leats. Many of the ditches appear to be associated with peat cutting, most of which may post-date the drains.
More information : A system of post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs, across the slopes of Beckham, Exmoor parish. The ditches were most likely cut as part of the Knight family's attempt at agricultural improvement of the former royal forest, possibly associated with the construction of Tom¿s Hill model Farm around 1850. Centred on approximately SS 80844195, these earthworks cover an area of approximately 20 hectares and form one of three relatively small and discrete drainage systems that feed into tributaries to the south of Long Combe. Two more can be seen nearby, one immediately to the east and west. The drains are arranged in two groups, one in a slightly irregular herringbone pattern at circa SS 80844195 and the other adapting natural streams at circa 80744219, both draining in to the same unnamed tributary to Long Combe.
Similar but even more extensive drainage systems are visible to the west towards Warren Farm, some draining into natural streams and water courses, others appearing to drain into the various contour leats.
According to Orwin, many miles of drainage ditches were cut across parts of Exmoor, but this technique did not address the underlying issue of compacted ironpan soils and failed to provide adequate drainage for improvement. (1-3)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR RAF 540/931 (F20) 3107-8 08-NOV-1952
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Source Number : 2
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/73109 939-40 29-APR-1973
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Source Number : 3
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Orwin, C.S. 1929 "The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest" London, Oxford University Press
Page(s) : 32-3
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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 : Drain, Drainage System
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 84 SW 234
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1477817
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1477851
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1477882
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1477889
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