MMO384 - 19th Century water meadow south of Higher Thorne (Monument)

Summary

An extensive catch water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the south of Higher Thorne, with which it is probably associated.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system was seen on aerial photographs around Higher Thorne. [1,2] A water meadow of probable 19th Century date, of a type known as a catch work or field gutter system, is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks associated with Higher Thorne, centred on circa SS 8431 3837. Such water-meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of 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. The main body of the system comprises at least 12 roughly parallel gutters, visible over approximately 7.5 hectares of south facing slope, above a tributary to the River Exe. A single head main or carriage gutter cannot be seen, and each gutter probably tapped the spring fed tributary in sequence. Although not visible as earthworks, the presence of additional gutters has been inferred from slicks of water visible across a number of fields, indicating gutters in use; many are located close to field boundaries which obscure the gutters from view. Further gutters can be seen to the south at Lower Thorne. Although probably forming a smaller separate system, it is probable they are contemporary, and operated in tandem with the North Thorne water meadow. Neither system can be clearly seen on aerial photographs of 1976, which may indicate that the gutters have been levelled. [2-7] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Report: Francis, P.T.H.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the "Catch Meadow" Irrigation Systems Found in the Exmoor Region of West Somerset. 39.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4313-4 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3281-2 (11 April 1947).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 543/2821 (F63) 0159-160 (27 April 1963).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR MAL 76048 195 (26 June 1976).
  • <6> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <7> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191.
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974474, Extant 23 August 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8433 3835 (955m by 234m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83NW
Civil Parish EXFORD, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11815
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6765
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW43
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974474
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34393

Record last edited

Aug 23 2021 8:31PM

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