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Cutsdean's Dewponds and Tures on the Cotswold Hills

The upland parish of Cutsdean, source of the River Windrush, has retained an air of seclusion as undisturbed as anywhere in the Cotswolds. A peculiar feature of Cutsdean is its Dewponds and Tures designed to solve the most intractable problem of the Cotswold uplands - lack of drinking water for the flocks of sheep.

Cutsdean’s Dewponds and TuresCutsdean, lying on the Inferior Oolite limestone, rises from 700 feet to 1004 feet at Cutdean Hill, surpassed in altitude only by Broadway Tower (1024 feet), Severn Wells (1048 feet) and Cleeve Cloud (1083 feet). It is cut off to the west and north by the 600 foot Cotswold escarpment, there are no towns nearby and its economy is entirely agricultural.

It has that special character of the Cotswold derived from the underlying limestone strata, the altitude, the austere climate, the poor road access, the shallow but free draining soils ("brash"), the close-rooted sparse grass, the wild flowers, the great flocks of sheep, and the use only of local stone for the barns, houses and field boundaries.

Its air of isolation was emphasised, until 1931, by its being a detached island of Worcestershire surrounded by a "sea" of Gloucestershire, by the presence, as late as 1865, of gates on all the public roads and by the fact that Cutsdean farmers lived in the village at the western end of the parish, not on the farmsteads strestched out to the east.

When the Inclosure Award of 1777 divided the great open fields with stone walls, it was essential to give the new enclosures access to water. Given the scarcity of springs, Dewponds - wide clay-lined pits to catch the rain and dew - were dug and divided by as many as six radiating stone walls, giving stock in the immediately neighbouring fields access to the precious water.

More distant fields were sometimes given access to the dewponds by Tures - drystone-walled peninsular extensions to fields enabling livestock to reach a water-source. Only 17 of these very unusual features have so far been identified - 10 in Cutsdean, 5 in Stanway, one at Lynes Barn in Pinnock and one at Oldhill Plantation in Snowshill - and the local word ture was by 1990 known to fewer than ten people.

Stanway Estate, on which 13 of the known tures are situated, has so far restored the Jubilee and Old Hill tures in Lidcombe Wood and Kitehill ture, with generous grant aid from Natural England.

Natural England is working towards the delivery of four stategic outcomes, which together deliver on their purpose to conserve, enhance, and manage the natural environment for the benefit of current and future generations.
1. A healthy natural environment - England's natural environment will be conserved and enhanced
2. People are inspired to value and conserve the natural environment - more people inspired to enjoy, understand and act for the natural environment.
3. Sustainable use of the natural environment - the use and management of the environment is more sustainable.
4. A secure environmental future - decisions which collectively secure the future of the natural evironment.

www.naturalengland.org.uk

Source: Stanway Estate

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