MSO11819 - 19th Century water meadow at North Higher Combe Farm (Monument)

Summary

A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Water meadow system seen on aerial photographs around North Higher Combe Farm. [1,2] A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks to the northwest and east of North Higher Combe, centred on circa SS 8685 3810. 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. The gutters are visible on the south facing slopes of a narrow combe to the south of North Higher Combe farm and west facing slopes of a larger valley to the west. Six or seven gutters can be seen tapping spring fed stream below the farm. The main body of the irrigation system is located to the west and east of North Higher Combe farm, with three gutters to each side, in total covering an area of approximately 2 hectares. The seventh gutter, possibly an extension of one of the lower six, can be seen extending north for approximately 410 metres along the western slopes of Broom Ball, tapping a larger stream at circa SS 867 385. The gutters are still clearly visible on aerial photographs of the 1970s. [3-6] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 3311-12.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Francis, P.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the Catch Meadow Irrigation Systems. 39.
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 58/5159 (F22) 0225-6 (4 June 1962).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73087 601-2 (17 April 1973).
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <6>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #47526 ]
  • <7> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974651, Extant 13 September 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8693 3831 (434m by 502m)
Map sheet SS83NE
Civil Parish WINSFORD, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO401
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO8579
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE56
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974651
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34397

Record last edited

Sep 13 2021 9:36PM

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