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HER Number:MDV103112
Name:Water meadow north and south of Warmscombe Farm

Summary

A water meadow of possible post-medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches to the north and south of Warmscombe Farm. Known locally as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, such water meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are supplied with water by warm springs or streams.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 534 454
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 (Post Medieval to XX - 1540 AD to 1946 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (Post Medieval to XX - 1540 AD to 1946 AD)

Full description

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

The carriage gutter to the south of the farm is depicted.


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

The carriage gutter to the south of the farm is depicted.


Ordnance Survey, 1930 - 1939, Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV336668.

Water courses deriving from the stream are visible.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 4129-4130 11-JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Three catch meadow gutters are clearly visible as earthworks to the north of the farm and one to the south. Map object based on this source.


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

The gutters to the north of Warmcombe farm appear in poor and unmaintained condition.


GetMapping, 1999 - 2000, Millennium Map 1999-2000 Getmapping (Aerial Photograph). SDV321648.

Water courses deriving from the stream are visible on the 1999 aerial photograph.


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

A number of the gutters can be seen as earthworks.


Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 1839 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

The Ordnance Survey map of 1889 shows two water courses deriving from the stream that were still visible on the 1999 aerial photograph.


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 post-medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches and cropmarks to the the north and south of Warmscombe Farm, with which it is probably associated.
Known locally as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, such water meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes. They irrigate the pasture slopes with water diverted from warm springs or streams by passing it along a the top of the slope in a water channel or ‘headmain’ and, when irrigation was required, causing the channel to overflow, the water passing evenly own the slope via a series of lower roughly parallel water channels or ‘gutters’.
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.
One water channel can be seen to the south of the farm, and three to the north and west.
The water channel to the south is depicted on the Ordnance Survey First and Second Edition maps of circa 1890 and 1904-6 and remains clearly visible on aerial photographs of 1946, at which time it appears to have been recently maintained. It remains visible as an earthwork on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2007 although appears grassed over, but is depicted in the current Ordnance Survey digital basemap as a water channel and labelled as ‘leat (disused)’. This label is probably erroneous, the earthwork more likely to be a ‘carriage gutter’, a channel made specifically to provide the farm with water for use in irrigation, but which could operate as a simple catch meadow if required.
The gutters to the north and west of the farm probably comprise the catch meadow proper. It probably operated as an ‘integrated’ catch meadow, one which took the manure from the farmstead and mixed this with water to create liquid manure which could then be distributed on the slopes. The lowest, westernmost gutter might also have provided a secondary water supply, directly tapping the stream to the south-west of the farm. These gutters are not depicted on the Ordnance Survey First Edition map of the 1880s-1890s and might have passed out of use by this time. Visible on aerial photographs of July 1946 they are less clear on aerial photographs of July 1956 and are barely apparent as very subtle earthworks on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2007. Only the lowest gutter is depicted on the current Ordnance Survey digital basemap as a water channel, but is erroneously labelled as ‘drain’.


Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Only the gutter to the south of the farm and the lowest gutter to the north are depicted, though mislabelled as a leat and drain respectively.


Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Map object based on this source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV321648Aerial Photograph: GetMapping. 1999 - 2000. Millennium Map 1999-2000 Getmapping. Millennium Map. Photograph (Digital).
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).
SDV336668Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1930 - 1939. Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Fourth 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. 1839.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
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.
SDV349996Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1655. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 4129-4130 11-JUL-1946.
SDV350196Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5345 03-MAY-2007.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Aug 19 2016 10:42AM