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HER Number:MDV103105
Name:Water meadow north-west of Lower Trayne Farm

Summary

A water meadow of possible 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches to the north and west of higher Trayne Farm. Known locally as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, such water meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture with water diverted from a spring or stream and passed along series of roughly parallel water 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 538 461
Map Sheet:SS54NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishIlfracombe
Ecclesiastical ParishILFRACOMBE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (XIX to XX - 1890 AD to 1904 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (XIX to XX - 1890 AD to 1946 AD)

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 3168-9 11--JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Three catch meadow gutters are clearly visible as earthworks.


Next Perspectives, 2007, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5345 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350196.

The gutters cannot be seen as earthworks.


Next Perspectives, 2007, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5346 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350196.

The gutters cannot be seen as earthworks.


Next Perspectives, 2007, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5446 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350196.

The gutters cannot be seen as earthworks.


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 earthwork ditches and cropmarks to the north and west of higher Trayne Farm, with which it is probably associated. Four roughly parallel earthwork ditches are visible centred on circa SS53934600, following the contours on the steep west facing slope below the Farm. These gutters were probably supplied with water by a fifth gutter, possibly an extension of the fourth, highest west facing gutter, visible following the curve of the combe slope around to the north and east towards a spring fed stream that rises at circa SS54054606. This gutter plus one other are depicted, if not annotated, on the Ordnance Survey first and second edition 25 inch maps indicating the system predates circa 1880. The second north facing gutter is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s only as a diffuse cropmark. The west facing gutters, and a possible third lower north facing gutter also visible only as a diffuse cropmark, are not depicte on the historic maps. This might support the interpretation that this part of the system was built, or alternatively passed out of use, gradually. Two more widely spaced and longer gutters can be seen on the lower slopes, centred on circa SS53834615. These might have tapped the stream to the south-west. The upper gutters are not clearly visible on digital images derived from aerial photographs taken in May 2007, but the lower two remain visible. The north facing earthworks appear to have been levelled but those on the east facing slopes might survive beneath obscuring scrub vegetation.
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.

Sources / Further Reading

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
SDV349996Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1655. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 3168-9 11--JUL-1946. [Mapped feature: #62594 ]
SDV350196Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5346 03-MAY-2007.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Oct 31 2012 12:18PM