MSO8719 - Post-medieval water meadow south of Higher Blackland Farm (Monument)

Summary

An extensive catchwater or field gutter system was viewed on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks. It is probably associated with Higher Blackland Farm and covers an area of over 20 hectares, possibly tapping two separate streams.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system was seen on aerial photographs around Higher Blackland Farm. [1,2] Source [1] notes a water meadow system seen on aerial photographs around Higher Blackland Farm. Evidence for an extensive water meadow of a type known as a catchwork, ditch gutter or field gutter system, can be seen to the northwest of Withypool on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, probably associated with Higher Blackland Farm. Such water meadows are typically found on combe or hill slopes and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the slope via a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters. 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 the March and April. Two or three gutters can be seen to the immediate north-west of the farm, but the bulk of the system covers an area of over 20 hectares to the south-east of Higher Blackland Farm. It is a complex system which probably taps two separate streams. The first rises circa 350 metres to the west of the Farm, the second some 750 metres to the southwest. Many of the gutters can still be clearly seen on aerial photographs of the 1970s. [2-5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Report: Francis, P.T.H.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the "Catch Meadow" Irrigation Systems Found in the Exmoor Region of West Somerset. 39.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. LHL CPE/UK/1980 3317-9 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73087 564-5 (17 April 1973).
  • <4> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <5>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NW. MD002191. [Mapped feature: #42343 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 974486, Extant 27 July 2021.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 838 364 (955m by 776m) Aerial survey
Map sheet SS83NW
Civil Parish WITHYPOOL AND HAWKRIDGE, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO387
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11828
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 NW46
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 974486
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34406

Record last edited

Jul 27 2021 12:13PM

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