MSO7046 - Post-medieval contour leat above Long Combe (Monument)


A contour leat is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork. It probably functioned as a simple catchwork system.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A contour leat is located on the higher south side of Long Combe, south of Tom's Hill. The western end terminates at a track leading to Tom's Hill, the eastern end continues into the Larkbarrow Estate. It is a low feature c.0.1 metres deep, and is used as a sheep track. [1] It crosses a quarry at SS 8114 4277. [2] It appears to join the water meadow system at Long Combe (MSO7028). [5] A water channel of a type known as a contour leat or gutter is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork on the north facing slopes of Long Combe, roughly 250 metres to the south of Tom's Farm, centred on circa SS 8116 4276. The gutter taps a small, probably spring fed tributary of Long Combe at circa SS 8137 4255, just within the Larkbarrow estate, before flowing east to terminate just before a field boundary within the Toms Hill estate some 650 metres to the northwest. The gutter is only intermittently visible on the aerial photographs available to the survey, but its course is marked on the Ordnance Survey base map as a trackway, supporting the McDonnell's suggestion that it was reused as a sheep track. With a second larger gutter immediately to the north, the channel probably functioned as a simple catchwork or field gutter water meadow. Such catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via one or more channels or gutters. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, 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. [6-8] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R McDonnell, 5 July 1982.
  • <2> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. RMcDonnell, 22 July 1982.
  • <3> 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.
  • <4> 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.66 (site 83).
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Chris Webster, Somerset HER, 11 September 2002.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3066-7 (11 April 1947).
  • <7> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <8>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #43463 ]
  • <9> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 975035, Extant 6 July 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8110 4270 (541m by 311m) Centred on
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO421
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11005
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW95
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 975035
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33144

Record last edited

Jul 6 2021 12:32PM


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