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HER Number:MDV103204
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 north-east facing combe slopes to the south of Bowden Wood. 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 563 447
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. Map object based partly on this source.


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

The water meadow is not depicted.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF CPE/UK/1980, NMR RAF/CPE/UK/1980 4108-4109 11-APR-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV350276.

Narrow earthwork water channels or gutters are visible on the west facing combe slopes south of Bowden Farm. Map object based partly on this source.


Next Perspectives, 2001, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5544 03-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349376.

The gutters remain partly visible albeit in poor condition.


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 north-east facing combe slopes to the south of Bowden Wood.
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 flows northwards immediately to the east. The gutters clearly visible on the 1946 aerial photographs represent only a small section of the complete water meadow. The full system is depicted, but not annotated, on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 inch map and the water meadow therefore predates the late 19th century. Two possible short gutters not depicted on the Ordnance Survey first edition 25 inch map can be seen on the aerial photographs as earthworks to the north and south of the main, mapped gutter. What is not apparent on the aerial photography, but is depicted on the Ordnance Survey first edition map, is that this central main gutter continues eastwards across the hill slope and runs north and west alongside the inside of the field boundary for over 300 metres before making a right-angle turn to the north-east, to run along the contour for nearly 80 metres. This would have allowed the same water source to irrigate a much larger area, including the slopes directly above Bowden Farm. Bowden Farmhouse is recorded as dating to the fifteenth or sixteenth, so it is possible the water meadow some considerable time prior to the nineteenth century.
The system is not depicted on the Ordnance Survey Second Edition 25 inch map and might therefore have passed out of use by circa 1904. The main gutter remains visible on digital images derived from aerial photographs taken in May 2001 but does not appear to have been maintained and might be in use as a trackway.

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).
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
SDV349376Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2001. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS5544 03-MAY-2007.
SDV350276Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/CPE/UK/1980 4108-4109 11-APR-1946.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Nov 16 2012 11:30AM