MMO2482 - 19th Century water meadow at Orchard Bottom (Monument)

Summary

A water meadow of a type known as a catchwork or field-gutter system is visible on aerial photographs. It may date to the mid 19th Century, and may be associated with Westermill or Castle Farms to the south.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of a type known as a catchwork or field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards as a series of parallel water channels or gutters cut into the east facing slopes at of Sparcombe Water head at circa SS 8188 4113. It was probably created as part of the extensive agriculatural improvements in this area initiated by the Knight family in the mid 19th Century, and may be associated with Westermill or Castle Farms to the south. The system is composed of two leats of gutters approximately 250 metres long that probably tapped directly into Sparcombe Water to the north. Although located in an area named as Orchard Bottom on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1889, there is no evidence that the earthworks are associated with an extant orchad. Indeed, such catchwork systems are specifically intended to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via one or more channels or 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 March and April. The gutters remain visible on aerial photographs of 1973. [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. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 543/2821 (F64) 0163-4 (27 April 1964).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 942-3 (29 April 1973).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #32577 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1477905, Extant 20 July 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8184 4111 (153m by 301m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS84SW
Civil Parish EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW239
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1477905

Record last edited

Jul 20 2021 11:23AM

Feedback?

Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.