MSO11834 - 19th Century water meadow at Higher House (Monument)

Summary

A water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks. The system taps a spring fed stream (a tributary of the Quarme).

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Water meadow system seen on aerial photographs around Higher House. [1,2] May be confused with the mill and leat (MSO11196). [3] Also lynchets seen on slide which may be water meadows. [4] A water meadow irrigation system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks cut into the combe slopes to the northeast and southwest of Higher House Farm. Centred on circa SS 8836 3964, the water meadow taps a spring fed stream, a tributary to the Quarme, which rises to the head of the combe some 900 metres to the southwest and feeds into the River Quarme at Codsend Bridge, roughly 150 to the east. 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. One of the gutters is partially depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map; the map indicates the water meadow had therefore been constructed prior to 1889, although the system may have passed out of use by this time. On the combe slope the gutters can also be seen to cut the line of several strip lynchet field boundaries, of possible medieval date. [5-10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: 1947. LHL CPE/UK/1980. 4304.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Francis, P.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the Catch Meadow Irrigation Systems. 38.
  • <3> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. E Dennison, Somerset County Council, 21 June 1984.
  • <4> Photograph: Somerset County Council Planning Department. Slide. 3.008.0027 (March 1984).
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF 54/2821 (F63) 152-3 (27 April 1964).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 1067-8 (29 April 1973).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 8839/6 (23427/13) (1 March 2004).
  • <8> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <9> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <10>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192. [Mapped feature: #47512 ]
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974661, Extant 6 September 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 8830 3964 (592m by 554m)
Map sheet SS83NE
Civil Parish CUTCOMBE, 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): MMO404
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO9240
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NE60
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974661
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34412

Record last edited

Sep 6 2021 8:58PM

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