MMO2011 - 19th Century water meadow south of Countisbury Village (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
- None recorded
A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs as at least two water channels on the northwest facing slope of South Hill, to the south of Countisbury. The water channels, also known as gutters, are centred on circa SS 7452 4953. Catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via a series of channels or gutters. This water meadow system is unlikely to have been fed from the spring at circa SS 7446 4951, as it is downslope from the gutters, but it is probable a second spring issues closer to the gutters. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, 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 the March and April. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of roughly parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems. This system is an example of a `detached system', where the water meadow distributes only what fertiliser is carried to it. [1-4] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. 
- <1> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3147-8 (11 July 1946).
- <2> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 053-4 (12 March 1995).
- <3> SEM7396 Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1, 28-29.
- <4>XY SMO7556 Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173. [Mapped feature: #38934 ]
- <5> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1466857, Extant 10 January 2022.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 7453 4953 (93m by 79m) Aerial Survey|
|Civil Parish||COUNTISBURY, NORTH DEVON, DEVON|
Related Monuments/Buildings (0)
Related Events/Activities (2)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1466857 (Original Monarch entry: 1466857)
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW210
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1466857
Record last edited
Jan 10 2022 3:46PM
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