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HER Number:MDV103203
Name:Water Meadow South of Bowden Farm

Summary

A water-meadow of probable post-medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches on the west-facing combe slopes to the south of Bowden 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 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 559 448
Map Sheet:SS54SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBerrynarbor
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBERRYNARBOR

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CATCH MEADOW (Post Medieval to XIX - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WATER MEADOW (Post Medieval to XIX - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

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

The water meadow is depicted but not annotated.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1655 4133-4134 11-JUL-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349996.

Narrow earthwork water channels or gutters are visible on the west facing combe slopes south of Bowden Farm.


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

he gutters remain visible albeit in poor condition.


Next Perspectives, 2007, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5644 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350196.

The gutters remain visible albeit 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. 1880 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

The 1889 Ordnance Survey map suggests the presence of a catchwork system here, more or less confirmed by arrow indicating direction of flow on 1904 Ordnance Survey map.


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

A water-meadow of probable post-medieval to 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onward as earthwork ditches on the west-facing combe slopes to the south of Bowden 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 and could have irrigated as much as 2.4 hectares of combe side. The gutters are depicted, but not annotated, on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 inch map and the water meadow therefore predates the late 19th century. However, Bowden Farmhouse is recorded as dating to the fifteenth or sixteenth, so it is possible the water meadow is significantly earlier in origin.
The gutters remain visible on digital images derived from aerial photographs taken in May 2007 but do not appear to have been maintained and might be used as trackways.

Sources / Further Reading

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. 1880.
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 4133-4134 11-JUL-1946. [Mapped feature: #62690 ]
SDV350196Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5644 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:Aug 19 2016 12:49PM