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HER Number:MDV110604
Name:Catch Meadow South and East of Bidwell Farm and Bidwell Cottages

Summary

The earthwork remains of a catch meadow of probable post-medieval to early twentieth century date were visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s as roughly parallel narrow ditches on the slopes of a narrow, east-facing combe, south and east of Bidwell Farm and Bidwell Cottages.
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 catch meadow gutters have probably mostly been levelled.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 947 030
Map Sheet:SS90SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSilverton
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBICKLEIGH
Ecclesiastical ParishSILVERTON

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 3253-3254 04-NOV-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354994.

Curvilinear ditches are visible as earthworks.


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

The earthwork remains of a catch meadow of probable post-medieval to early twentieth century date were visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s as roughly parallel narrow ditches on the slopes of a narrow, west-facing combe, south and west of Great Pitt Farmhouse, Silverton.
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 March and April.
The system was probably supplied with water from stream that flows east to west, towards the Exe, along the combe bottom immediately to the south. It is possible the gutters were an outlying part of a larger catch meadow immediately to the south of Great Pitt Farmhouse (MDV108280).
The gutters were not visible as earthworks on later images available to the survey and it is likely that the catch meadow earthworks have been levelled.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV354994Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1823. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1823 RP 3253-3254 04-NOV-1946. [Mapped feature: #70032 ]
SDV356883Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. 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:Mar 24 2015 2:32PM