MMO2684 - Probable 19th Century water meadow south of Wootton Courtenay (Monument)

Summary

A possible water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs immediately to the south of the village of Wootton Courtenay.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A possible water meadow of probable 19th century origin is visible on aerial photographs immediately to the south of the village of Wootton Courtenay, centred on circa SS 9348 4280. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is carried along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters and when irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow from gutter to gutter, 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. Only one possible water channel, or gutter, can be seen as an earthwork on aerial photographs of the 1940s, centred on circa SS 9334 4281. This gutter probably tapped directly the stream immediately to the north. Although no further gutters can be seen, convincing evidence for the irrigation of a larger area, upslope to the south, is provided by aerial photographs of the 1980s, on which the system is in use and water can be seen flowing from unseen gutters, irrigating the combe slopes below South View. Up to 3 hectares may have been irrigated by this system, but the source of the water supply for this larger area of irrigation is unknown. [1-4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3200-1 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA JAS/85041 086-7 (29 August 1985).
  • <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 94 SW. MD002186. [Mapped feature: #32458 ]

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 9346 4281 (348m by 262m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS94SW
Civil Parish WOOTTON COURTENAY, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SW147
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1482600

Record last edited

Aug 17 2020 9:27PM

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