MMO1731 - 19th Century water meadow north of Lower Tippacott (Monument)


A catchwork system of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as a series of roughly parallel channels or gutters. It may have been an integrated system with Lower Tippacott Farm.

Please read the .

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 on aerial photographs of 1947 onwards as a series of roughly parallel channels, or gutters, cut into the north and west facing slopes of a combe, at the mouth of which is located a farm at Lower Tippacott. The water meadow is centred on circa SS 76464743. However, many of the gutters are only partly visible and the entire complex covers an area of at least 7 hectares. Catchwork systems divert water from a spring or stream along a series of channels or gutters to irrigate pasture, usually on fairly steep combe sides. When irrigation was required the water was caused to overflow from the gutters, 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. Any excess water then returned to the feeder stream or was removed by a tail drain. On Exmoor this system was commonly enhanced by a series of parallel gutters which encouraged a more even flow, as can be seen operating here at Lower Tippacott in April 1947. This system also appears to be an example of an `integrated system', whereby the water was passed though a farmyard to pick up manure, and subsequently wash the now liquid fertilizer onto the meadow sides. This water meadow is probably 19th Century in date, although similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th Century. Very similar systems to the west, at Cranscombe Farm and Shilstone farm (see MMO1726 and MMO1728), were probably laid out at a similar time. [1-5] 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> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 3045-3046 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/910 (F20) 3098-3099 (17 October 1952).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 090-92 (12 March 1995).
  • <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 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #42130 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461364, Extant 9 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7650 4746 (270m by 652m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (11)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE113
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461364

Record last edited

Dec 9 2021 1:45PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.