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HER Number:MDV103092
Name:Water meadow at Middle Cockhill Farm

Summary

A water-meadow of possible 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as roughly parallel earthwork ditches on the combe slopes to the south-west and east of Middle Cockhill Farm. Known locally as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, 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 a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters, which were caused to overflow when irrigation was required. Their use was particularly important during the hungry gap between March and April.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 550 455
Map Sheet:SS54NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBerrynarbor
Ecclesiastical ParishBERRYNARBOR

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthworks of former Catch (Water)meadow at Middle Cockhill Farm

Other References/Statuses

  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (XIX to XX - 1801 AD to 1956 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (XIX to XX - 1801 AD to 1956 AD)

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

The catchmeadow gutters are depicted but not annotated.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

The catchmeadow gutters are depicted but not annotated.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1631, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1631 1101-1102 08-JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349549.

Catchmeadow gutters are visible as earthworks.


Royal Air Force, 1956, RAF/82/1451, NMR RAF/82/1451 F22 0060-0061 12-JUL-1956 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349052.

The catchmeadow gutters remain visible as earthworks, but appear in poor condition.


Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 1882 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

The 1889 and 1904 Ordnance Survey maps suggest the presence of a catchwork system here. Two water channels depicted aligned northeast-southwest.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S., 2011 - 2012, North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV349018.

A water-meadow of possible 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as a three roughly parallel earthwork ditches centred on circa SS54904548 on the combe slopes to the south-west of Middle Cockhill Farm, with which it is probably associated.
Such water-meadows, known as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are 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 visible gutters appear to be laid out to tap a spring-fed stream which flows from the south-west, each tapping the watercourse in turn. The system probably irrigated an area of less than 1.5 hectares. The gutters are depicted but not annotated on the Ordnance Survey first and second edition 25 inch maps, which indicate that they continued through the farmyard at Middle Cockhill and continued eastwards along the combe, towards the settlement formerly known as Lower Cockhill. This eastwards extension might have operated as an ‘integrated’ catchmeadow system from Middle Cockhill.
They remain visible on aerial photographs of 1956 but appear somewhat eroded in condition. They are not clearly visible on later aerial photographs available to the survey, but might survive as earthworks obscured by scrub vegetation.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV339712Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J.. 2007. The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.22 (rev.1). A4 Stapled + Digital. No. 1882.
SDV349018Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S.. 2011 - 2012. North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. ACD383/2/1. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV349052Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1956. RAF/82/1451. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/82/1451 F22 0060-0061 12-JUL-1956.
SDV349549Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1631. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1631 1101-1102 08-JUL-1946. [Mapped feature: #62580 ]

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6132 - North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty NMP Project

Date Last Edited:May 10 2018 4:31PM