MMO1720 - 19th Century water meadow northeast of Brendon Barton (Monument)


A type of water meadow known locally as a catchwork system, of probable 19th Century date, is visible as a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters cut into both sides of a combe.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch meadow system is visible as a series of roughly parallel channels, or gutters, cut into both sides of a combe to the northeast of Brendon Barton in Brendon parish, centred on circa SS 7494 4757. Overlapping gutters are visible to the south of St Brendan's Church, at circa SS 7500 4764, suggesting at least two phases of construction. This water meadow is probably 19th Century in date, although similar systems were operating elsewhere in the 17th Century. Catchwork systems diverted water from a spring or stream along a series of channels or gutters to irrigate combe sides. When required, the water was caused to overflow the gutters, thereby irrigating the combe slopes. This film of water prevented pasture freezing during the winter and raised the temperature of the grass, thereby encouraging growth, particularly important during the `hungry gap' of the spring months. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream or was removed by a tail drain. On Exmoor this system was often enhanced by a series of parallel gutters to encourage a more even flow. As this catchwork system appears to be associated with the farm at Brendon Barton, it may be an example of an integrated system where the water was passed though a farmyard to pick up manure, washing the now liquid fertilizer onto the meadow sides. The gutters remain visible on aerial photographs of 1995. [1-4] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/910 (F20) 4030-4031 (17 October 1952).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 080-081 (12 March 1995).
  • <3> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-29.
  • <4>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #33097 ]
  • <5> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461327, Extant 8 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7505 4757 (584m by 426m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (9)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE106
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461327

Record last edited

Dec 8 2021 1:00PM


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