MMO2884 - Post-medieval drainage ditches on Sherdon (Monument)

Summary

Post-medieval drainage ditches are visible as earthworks. They were most probably cut during the mid 19th Century as part of the Knight family's attempt at agricultural improvement in this area.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An area of regular post-medieval drainage ditches is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks on Sherdon, Exmoor. They were most probably cut during the mid 19th Century as part of the Knight family's attempt at agricultural improvement in this area. Centred at approximately SS 7940 3593, the majority of the ditches run diagonally across both sides of a valley or small combe, arranged in a "herringbone" pattern, and directing water into the small stream. A larger channel curves down from the summit of Sherdon and Horsen Hill to connect with the stream at its source. Similar drainage systems can be seen in many areas within the former Royal Forest of Exmoor, but according to Orwin, most failed to provide adequate drainage for the land to be enclosed. Orwin also refers to the Knight's land agent, Robert Smith, who advocated the construction of so-called "sheep drains" on the boggy ground to provide grazing land for cattle and sheep. [1-3] An extensive drainage system lies to the NE of Horsen Hill. The ditches run along the contours to drain into a larger channel which itself flows into a tributary stream of the River Barle. A curving ditch runs from SE/NW across the slope above the ditches and flows into the main drainage channel of the system. The upper section of this contour or head drain is silted up, mostly obscured by reeds, and is visible intermittently as a scarp 0.6m wide and 0.75m high. The lower section of this contour ditch survives as a reed filled hollow some 2m wide and 0.6m deep. The drainage ditches to the west are mostly silted up and obscured by reeds; where they can be seen the ditches are shallow channels 0.5m wide and less than 0.25m deep. The drainage ditches to the east are also mostly silted up and obscured by reeds, but the lowest drainage ditch which runs NE/SW along the contours is clearly visible and is 1m wide and up to 1m deep. Part of a tributary stream of the River Barle has been deepened to aid the efficacy of the network of drainage ditches which discharge into it. The channel is 110m long, 4m wide and some 2m deep with steep sides and intermittent banks of spoil on the sides. [4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96507 64-65 (30 March 1996).
  • <2> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 33, 57.
  • <3> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190.
  • <4> Report: Riley, H.. 2016. Archaeological walkover survey: Horsen, Exmoor. 5, 8.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7933 3585 (610m by 528m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS73NE
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 73 NE87
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1486568

Record last edited

Sep 11 2017 10:56AM

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