HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV103194
Name:Water meadow north-west and south of Smythen Farm

Summary

A water-meadow of possible medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches on the combe slopes to the north-west and south of Smythen 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 556 445
Map Sheet:SS54SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBerrynarbor
Ecclesiastical ParishBERRYNARBOR

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

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

The water meadow is partly depicted


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

The northern section of the water meadow is not depicted.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 3046-3047 11-JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Narrow earthwork ditches are visible to the north-west and south of Smythen Farm.


Next Perspectives, 2007, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5544 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350196.

The gutters to the north-west of Smythen Farm are obscured by tree cover but those to the south remain visible as subtle but grassed over 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. 1879 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

The 1889 Ordnance Survey map suggests the presence of a catchwork system here (depicted as water channels running northwest/southeast).


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 medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches centred on circa SS55494473 and SS55664447, on the combe slopes to the north-west and south of Smythen Farm. The water meadow gutters are partly depicted on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 inch map, to the north and south of the former farmstead of Smithson Farm, with which was probably associated.
Such water-meadows, known as catchwork, catch-meadow or field-gutter systems, are usually 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 water meadow is laid out to tap a spring-fed stream that rises to the south-east of Smythen Farm, and is desgined to irrigate the south facing slopes of this small combe and part of the the Sterridge Valley to the north west, into which the stream feeds. As the gutters are partly depicted, but not labelled, on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 inch map the water meadow clearly predates the late 19th century. However, Smithson Farm is recorded as being medieval in origin, so it is possible the water meadow is significantly earlier in date. The northern section is not depicted on the Second Edition map which might support the interpretation the system had begun to pass out of use by the first decade of the 20th century. The southern portion of the system remains visible as low earthworks but the northern gutters are obscured by modern plantations on digital images derived from aerial photographs taken in May 2007.

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. 1879.
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 3046-3047 11-JUL-1946. [Mapped features: #62680 ; #62681 ]
SDV350196Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5544 03-MAY-2007.

Associated Monuments

MDV70687Related to: Smithson Farmstead, Berrynarbor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Aug 19 2016 12:48PM