MSO11798 - 19th Century water meadow system at Driver Farm (Monument)

Summary

A catchwork water meadow system is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs. This appears to have been an integrated system with Driver Farm, and was presumably constructed in the mid 19th Century as part of the Knights' exploits.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Water system seen on aerial photographs just to the north of Driver Farm. [1,2] Streams marked on the six inch Ordnance Survey map coming off the Pinkworthy Canal (MSO6847). [3] SS 736 407. The reference falls on gently sloping ground in an enclosed pasture field. Several streams flow off the higher southern slopes of the Chains ridge cutting across this area to the north of Driver Farm but there is no trace of there having been a water meadow system or planned irrigation system. [4] Two possible short sections of leat about 0.8 metres wide and 0.05 metres deep were seen from SS 7377 4069 to SS 7385 4070. [5] There is a grass covered curving bank and ditch running roughly east to west to the east of Driver Farm from SS 7368 4065 to SS7379 4065. The bank runs west from a small unnamed stream for about 127 metres. At the eastern end there is a fairly level area on the S side of the field boundary bank about 20 metres wide and 25 metres long - possibly a catchment area for water from the small stream. The western end is very eroded and it is difficult to tell which way the water would have flowed. [6] No trace of the water meadow system could be seen to the north of the farm with the exception of a drainage ditch about 1 metres wide and 0.3 metres deep running northeast to southwest across the southern end of the field. [7] Various leats are visible to the north, south and particularly east of the farm on the aerial photographs of c.1946. They include those seen by Faxon. [8] A substantial post-medieval water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, is visible as earthworks on aerial photographs in fields around Driver Farm, Exmoor. Centred at approximately SS 7364 4059, numerous leats are visible in fields surrounding Driver Farm, the majority concentrated in fields to the north and east of the farm. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Driver, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. The leats appear to drain into the two unnamed streams which flow past Driver Farm to the east and west. 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. The water meadow was most likely constructed during the mid-19th century, when Frederic Knight, the owner of Driver Farm and the former Royal Forest of Exmoor, hired Robert Smith as an agent. Smith was an expert in the construction and management of water meadows, and most likely constructed this, and the system at Pinkery Farm. [9-12]

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3151.
  • <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. 38.
  • <3> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, 18 June 1984.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 26 June 1995.
  • <5> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 15 September 1995.
  • <6> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 15 September 1995.
  • <7> Survey: Faxon, Keith. 1998. Record card from McDonnell, R. Pinkworthy Estate: An Archaeological Survey for Management Purpose. 15 September 1995.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Chris Webster, Somerset Historic Environment Record, 24 April 2006.
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/CPE/UK/1980 3151-52 (11 April 1948).
  • <10> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <11> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 55,77.
  • <12>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SW. MD002182. [Mapped feature: #46986 ]

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7365 4065 (585m by 474m)
Map sheet SS74SW
Civil Parish EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO300
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO6976
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SW83
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 895595
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34370

Record last edited

Oct 11 2021 12:09PM

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