MSO7020 - 19th Century contour leat from Great Buscombe to Swap Hill (Monument)
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Type and Period (1)
A contour leat, 4 kilometres long, runs from Great Buscombe to Swap Hill. At SS 8120 4105, it is 3.6 metres wide and 0.7 metres deep, with the bank 2.5 metres wide and 1.1 metre high on the downslope side. Some large stones have been used in its construction. The leat predates the 19th Century field boundaries that cut through it.  The east end of the leat was recorded as part of the Larkbarrow survey, where it appeared to be be feeding the gutter system (MSO7028).  A substantial contour leat is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs, running from Great Buscombe to Swap Hill. Beginning at approximately SS 7809 4205, the leat follows the line of the 410 metre contour line for approximately 3.6 kilometres, fading from sight at SS 8165 4238. In several places the leat is cut by 19th Century field boundaries, on Trout Hill for example, indicating that it predates these features. The leat also lies within an area of extensive 19th Century drainage ditches, some of which cut through the the leat. It seems likely that this feature dates to the mid 19th Century and the earlier phase of agricultural improvements by the Knight family. [4,7,8] The site was subject to restoration work as part of work undertaken at The Warren as part of the Exmoor Mires Project during March 2016 and August 2016 to January 2017. None of the leat was affected by the restoration works; however, it was noted on site that significant damage was being caused to the feature by heavy access use and subsequent water channelling and erosion. At one point, a ditch that was being blocked crossed the leat. Here, 20 metres were left at either side of the leat to avoid any interference with it. However, it was badly eroded here and may require further attention to avoid further erosion and damage. At other points in Beckham, the leat had been damaged by pathways or water channels.  This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project.  A metric survey of part of a contour leat on Swap Hill was carred out in July and August 2019. The leat is part of an extensive irrigation system constructed by John Knight in Exmoor Forest in 1819 and 1820 to improve grazing. 
- <1> SEM7407 Aerial photograph transcription: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Aerial Photograph Transcriptions of Sites in the Exmoor National Park (CRAAGS). 1:10560. 10 June 1982.
- <2> SSO856 Article in serial: Burrow, I., Minnitt, S. and Murless, B.. 1982. Somerset Archaeology 1981. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 126. 69-91. P.83.
- <3> SSO708 Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 7841.
- <4> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3158-3161, 8162 (11 April 1947).
- <5> SEM7060 Report: McDonnell, R.. 1985. Recommendations for the Management of Archaeological Sites in the Exmoor National Park at Warren, Pinford, Tom's Hill and Hayes Allotment. P.57, 67 (site 85).
- <6> SEM4 Report: Jamieson, E.. 2001. Larkbarrow Farm, Exmoor, Somerset.
- <7> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73109 935-941 (29 April 1973).
- <8>XY SMO7566 Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183. [Mapped feature: #43460 ]
- <9> SEM8419 Report: Ferraby, R.. 2016. The Warren: Historic environment post-restoration report.
- <10> SEM8493 Report: Riley, H.. 2017. Agricultural Reclamation at Larkbarrow Farm, Exmoor. Exmoor Mires Partnership ELB17 Project Report.
- <11> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974790, Extant 26 May 2021.
- <12> SEM8759 Report: Riley, H.. 2019. Metric survey on Swap Hill, Larkbarrow, Exmoor, Somerset, Exmoor National Park ELB19: Project report. Hazel Riley.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 7995 4201 (3726m by 769m) Aerial survey|
|Civil Parish||EXMOOR, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (3)
Related Events/Activities (4)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=974790 (Pastscape entry: 974790)
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO412
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11027
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW106
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974790
- Somerset SMR PRN: 33166
Record last edited
Aug 9 2021 4:09PM
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