MMO1757 - 19th Century water meadow northwest of Fellingscott Farm (Monument)


A catchwork or catch-meadow system can be seen as a series of ditches or channels on aerial photographs. It probably dates to the 19th Century and continued in use well into the 20th Century.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch-meadow system is visible on aerial photographs as five or more water channels radiating out onto the west facing valley side from Fellingscott Farm, Brendon parish. The extensive water channels, also known as gutters, are centred on circa SS 7762 4760 but in total cover an area of over 3 hectares. 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. This water meadow system was possibly fed from two sources; from a point up the valley to the north of Slocomslade at circa SS 7748 4713 and a spring adjacent to Fellingscott Farm itself. 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 at the valley bottom or was removed by a tail drain. The use of a series of roughly parallel gutters to improve the coverage, as seen here, is a common feature of Exmoor systems. This system is also possibly an example of an `integrated system', where the water is passed though the farmstead to pick up manure and subsequently distribute this liquid fertaliser on the slopes. Although similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th Century, this water meadow is probably 19th Century or later in origin. As can be seen on the 1947 photographs, this and other water meadows in this area continued in use well into the 20th Century (see MMO1726, MMO1728, MMO1731, MMO1720 and MMO1753). [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) 4040-41 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/853 (F20) 3013-4 (29 August 1952).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 116-7 (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: #42097 ]
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461451, Extant 9 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7761 4743 (271m by 626m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (6)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE120
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461451

Record last edited

Dec 9 2021 2:06PM


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