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HER Number:MDV110486
Name:Catch Meadow at Upcott Barton

Summary

The remains of a catch meadow of probable post-medieval to twentieth century date were visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards as roughly parallel narrow earthwork ditches on the south-west facing combe slopes to the adjacent to Upcott Barton, Thorverton. Catch meadows are usually found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream and passing it along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow from gutter to gutter, thereby irrigating the slopes below. The southern two thirds of the system has probably been levelled.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 923 039
Map Sheet:SS90SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishCadbury
Civil ParishThorverton
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTHORVERTON

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 (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1823, RAF/CPE/UK/1823 RP 3257-3259 04-NOV-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354994.

Linear earthwork ditches are visible.


Ordnance Survey, 1989, OS/89162, OS/89162 V 648-649 08-MAY-1989 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356894.

Linear earthwork ditches north and west of Upcott Barton remained visible.


Environment Agency, 1998-2012, LiDAR DSM data JPEG image (1m resolution), LIDAR SS9204 Environment Agency JPEG DSM 2005-2012 (Cartographic). SDV357034.

Linear earthwork ditches north and west of Upcott Barton remained visible.


Bluesky, 2006 - 2007, Bluesky aerial photographs 2006 - 2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV341189.

Linear earthwork ditches north and west of Upcott Barton remained visible.


Coles, B., 2011, Catch a Leat with your Camera (Article in Serial). SDV361905.

Three parallel leats of a former catchmeadow system are visible in the [northern] part of the field. The leats originally ran to the south of the modern fence line as well but this part of the field has been ploughed and reseeded. One ploughing is sufficient to remove all visible signs of a catchmeadow system.
Such leats or ditches once carried water from a stream or spring across a pasture. When blocked at the far end, the slightly warm water would overflow the downslope edge into the field. In springtime this would encourage the early growth of grass, invaluable at the end of winter. Sometimes the water was run through a stockyard above the leats to bring nutrients as well as war water to the pasture. Leats often run under current field boundaries suggesting that they are earlier in date, but their simple construction is such that they could be contemporary or later.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2014-2015, East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV356883.

The remains of a catch meadow of probable post-medieval to twentieth century date were visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards as roughly parallel narrow earthwork ditches on the south-west facing combe slopes to the adjacent to Upcott Barton, Thorverton.
Many catch meadow systems are believed to date to the post medieval period, although it is likely that they were first developed in the medieval period and often continued in use into the twentieth century. Catch meadows provided a simple, inexpensive and effective form of irrigation. When irrigation was required water was diverted from a source such as a pond, river, spring or spring-fed stream and passed along the meadow slopes via one or more of the gutters, which was then caused to overflow. The lower, roughly parallel gutters then ‘caught’ and redistributed water passing it evenly over the surface of a meadow below. The gently flowing water prevented the ground freezing in winter and encouraged early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock, particularly important during the hungry gap of the March and April.
In this instance the catch meadow probably tapped the stream that rises within and around Fursdon Wood.
The gutters north and west of Upcott Barton remained identifiable as earthworks on digital mosaics derived from aerial photographs taken up to 2007 and digital images derived from lidar data captured from 2005 to 2012. The gutters that made up the southern two thirds of the system, west and south-west of Upcott Barton were not clearly visible on images post-dating the 1960s and have probably therefore been levelled.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV341189Aerial Photograph: Bluesky. 2006 - 2007. Bluesky aerial photographs 2006 - 2007. Bluesky. Photograph (Digital).
SDV354994Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1823. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1823 RP 3257-3259 04-NOV-1946. [Mapped feature: #69918 ]
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
SDV356894Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1989. OS/89162. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). OS/89162 V 648-649 08-MAY-1989.
SDV357034Cartographic: Environment Agency. 1998-2012. LiDAR DSM data JPEG image (1m resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR SS9204 Environment Agency JPEG DSM 2005-2012.
SDV361905Article in Serial: Coles, B.. 2011. Catch a Leat with your Camera. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 110. A4 Stapled + Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6530 - The East and Mid-Devon Rivers Catchment NMP project (Ref: ACD613)

Date Last Edited:Nov 22 2018 2:49PM