MMO399 - 19th Century water meadow south of Prescott Farm (Monument)

Summary

An extensive and complex water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks. It probably closely operated in tandem with a more extensive system associated with Stone Farm.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system was seen on aerial photographs dating to 1947 around Lower Prescott Farm. [1,2] Banks and lush marked ditches were noted to extend north and west on aerial photographs. [1,3-4] An extensive and complex water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the south of Prescott Farm at circa SS 8588 3913. This is an example of 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. 8 gutters are visible at Prescott, covering 3 hectares of the east and west-facing slopes of a narrow combe to the south of the Farm. For water these tap a spring fed stream, which rises immediately to the north of Prescott Farm. However, gutters continue to the southeast, covering almost the entire hillside between Prescott and Stone, over 500 metres distant. The water meadows of the two holdings were probably constructed as a single operational unit and would have worked in tandem. However this means it is unclear from the aerial photographs alone and without greater knowledge of the extent of the farms holdings, where the division between the two holding's water meadows lays. The unit of record defined here for Prescott is therefore somewhat arbitrary and further work is required for clarification. The gutters are still clearly visible on aerial photographs of 2008. [5-10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4309-10 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> 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.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. SCPD.HSL.UK.71-176 run 85, 9330 (September 1971).
  • <4> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS 8539.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3278-9 (11 April 1947).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 54/2821 (F63) 156-7 (27 April 1964).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8638/9 (NMR 24928/20) (12 February 2008).
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8639/1 (NMR 24928/25) (12 February 2008).
  • <9> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <10> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8586 3910 (166m by 326m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS83NE
Civil Parish EXFORD, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11817
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6773
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE54
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 974646
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34395

Record last edited

Sep 5 2017 12:17PM

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