MSO7048 - Post-medieval contour leat at Long Combe (Monument)


A contour leat on the north side of Long Combe, terminates at a field boundary in the west, but continues east into Larkbarrow estate.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

A contour leat on the north side of Long Combe, terminates at a field boundary in the west, but continues east into Larkbarrow estate. The width varies between 1.8 metres to 1 metre, with a depth of 0.3 metres. At SS 8136 4268 it cuts a quarry spoil mound. [1] It appears to join the water meadow system at Long Combe (MSO7028). [4] A water channel of a type known as a contour leat or gutter is visible on aerial photographs as an earthwork on the south facing slopes of Long Combe, roughly 250 metres to the south of Tom's Farm centred on circa SS 8132 4272. The gutter tapped Long Combe in the Larkbarrow estate to the east, where it formed part of an extensive water meadow system to the south of Larkbarrow Farm, before roughly following the 360 metre Ordnance Datum contour for over 500 metres, terminating at a spring fed stream at circa SS 8120 4291. Fed from a point approximately 30 metres to the northeast on from this same stream, a second gutter circa 450 metres long continues eastwards along the 360 metre Ordnance Datum contour, terminating at a field boundary to the west at circa SS 8082 4297. The leat probably functioned as a simple catchwork or field gutter system. 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. [5-7] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. R McDonnell, 5 July 1982.
  • <2> 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> 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 81).
  • <4> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Chris Webster, 11 September 2002.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF 106G/UK/1501 (F20) 3192-3 (13 May 1946).
  • <6> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <7>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 84 SW. MD002184. [Mapped feature: #43464 ]
  • <8> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 975040, Extant 29 June 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 8120 4279 (780m by 381m) Aerial survey
Map sheet SS84SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO423
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11007
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 84 SW97
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 975040
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33146

Record last edited

Jul 6 2021 12:01PM


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