MMO403 - 19th Century water meadow southeast of Ashcombe (Monument)

Summary

A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs following the contour of the combe above Larcombe Brook for over 1100 metres. It is unclear with which farms this system was associated.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Water meadow system seen on aerial photographs in the valley to the east of Ashcombe. [1,2] A leat is shown on the Ordnance Survey Archaeological Division six inch and Ordnance Survey 1: 10,000 maps. [3,4] A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs to the south of Ashcombe, on the north facing slopes above Larcombe Brook, Winsford parish. The gutters of the water meadow are visible following the contour of the combe for over 1100 metres and cover an area of approximately 7 hectares centred on circa SS 8912 3744. This is a small 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. Despite its size, it is unclear with which farms this system was associated. It is possible that the construction, maintenance and use of the water meadow was divided between Ashcombe and Lee Farm to the southeast. This may be supported by the apparent dual water supply of the gutters; the gutters may have been fed by springs at Ashcombe and to the south of Lee Farm. [5-9] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [10]

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <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. 40.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: KING, LK. Aerial photograph. CPE.UK.1980 3308, 3309 (April 1947).
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560. Ordnance Survey Archaeological Division map.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1979. 1:10,000. 1:10,000.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 406G/UK/1655 (F20) 3431-2 (11 July 1946).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3307-8 (11 April 1947).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. ENPA JAS 85042 038-9 (29 August 1985).
  • <8> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <9>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #42747 ]
  • <10> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974656, Extant 21 September 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8909 3731 (1007m by 419m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS83NE
Civil Parish WINSFORD, 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): MSO11821
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO8581
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE58
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974656
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34399

Record last edited

Sep 21 2021 4:18PM

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