MMO605 - Post-medieval water meadow southeast of Wintershead Farm (Monument)

Summary

A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. This system appears to be connected to Wintershead Farmyard, suggesting it was an integrated system.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks across fields southeast of Wintershead Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7744 3665, several gutters are visible stretching across a steep southwest facing slope above an unnamed stream. The gutters extend across five fields, covering an area of some 16 hectares. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Wintershead Farm, and possibly Wintershead cottage as well, suggesting that this was an integrated system which distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields, as well as water. Most of the Exmoor "improvement farms" constructed in the mid 19th Century have some form of water meadow system; the land agent employed by the family, Robert Smith, was considered an expert in water meadows, and constructed a great number of them within the former Royal Forest. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. Most catchwater meadows are believed to date to the post-medieval period, although it is possible that they were first developed in the medieval period. [1-5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <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. 38.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4449-50 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <4> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 55, 77.
  • <5> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NE. MD002190.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7745 3659 (720m by 335m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS73NE
Civil Parish EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11794
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6928
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE32
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1099675
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34366

Record last edited

Oct 2 2013 3:00PM

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