MMO1741 - 19th Century water meadow southwest of Brendon (Monument)


A probably 19th Century water meadow, of a type known locally as a catchwork system, is visible on aerial photographs as two short sections of roughly parallel channels or gutters.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Two short lengths of channel or gutter, indicative of a water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch meadow system, can be seen operating on aerial photographs of 1947, on the northwest facing slopes the combe above the East Lynch River, Brendon parish. The gutters are centred on circa SS 7644 4791, to the southwest of Brendon village. Catchwork systems are usually found on steep combe sides and are designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream along the valley sides via a series of channels or gutters. When irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow, 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. In this instance gutters cannot be clearly seen on the aerial photographs available, but the water meadow is identified from the evidence of water flowing downslope, indicating the system is in operation in April 1947. The water meadow is likely to cover a greater area than that identified here. This system also appears to be an example of a `detached system', where the water meadow is not attached to its farmstead and only distributed what liquid manure was carried to it. This water meadow is probably 19th Century in date, although similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th Century. Several arger scale but similar systems are visible in this area farm were probably laid out at a similar time (see MSO1720, MSO1726, MSO1728 and MSO1731). [1-3]

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4042-3 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <3>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NE. MD002168. [Mapped feature: #33092 ]



Grid reference Centred SS 7643 4791 (73m by 52m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE114
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1461402

Record last edited

Dec 16 2020 4:15PM


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