MMO2995 - Post-medieval water meadow south of Withycombe (Monument)

Summary

A water meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen to the south of Withycombe as earthwork channels on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of probable post-medieval date can be seen to the south of Withycombe as earthwork channels on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards. The channels probably form a type known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system, which are typically found on the combe or hill slopes of Exmoor. The visible extent of this system covers approximately 3 hectares of valley side above Pennycombe Water centred at circa SS 8283 3798. Such systems were designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via the roughly parallel channels or gutters. 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 the March and April. This system was probably supplied with water from a spring fed stream issuing to the northwest, near Newland Cross. It was probably constructed when Withycombe was still a small hamlet of two or three farms and was most likely associated with a single holding to the southwest of the settlement. Although it is tempting to associate it with a very similar system to the north of Withycombe, this would have probably belonged one of the other holdings. [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 CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3317-9 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA JAS 85042 32-3 (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 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #32762 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1488212, Extant 30 August 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8303 3803 (536m by 330m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83NW
Civil Parish EXFORD, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW93
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1488212

Record last edited

Aug 30 2021 9:47PM

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