MMO2011 - 19th Century water meadow south of Countisbury Village (Monument)

Summary

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.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

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]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 (F20) 3147-8 (11 July 1946).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 053-4 (12 March 1995).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1, 28-29.
  • <4> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7453 4953 (93m by 79m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74NW
Civil Parish COUNTISBURY, NORTH DEVON, DEVON

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW210
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1466857

Record last edited

Apr 12 2016 2:13PM

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