From the Middle Ages until the twentieth century, water meadows in Europe were primarily irrigated to improve their productivity and to lengthen the growing season. They were water management systems designed to collect and use water and to discharge it: water had to be kept moving. This chapter presents a general overview and a history of research on European water meadows. It also examines examples from the sandy landscapes of northwestern Europe, from Slovakia, and Norway. Three main types of water meadows are distinguished: simple dam systems, more elaborate catchworks, and highly developed bedworks. Of these, bedworks were technically and organizationally the most complex; they were also the most costly in construction and maintenance. Most water meadows were abandoned in the twentieth century; in many places, however, their traces can still be recognized in the landscape. They are both an interesting part of European agrarian and landscape heritage and a carrier of regional identity. In recent years, a number of water meadows have been restored, for ecological, water management, tourism, and heritage purposes.
|Title of host publication||Adaptive strategies for water heritage|
|Subtitle of host publication||Past, present and future|
|Place of Publication||Cham|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|