MMO1772 - Post-medieval water meadow east of Leeford (Monument)


An extensive post-medieval catchwork or catch meadow system can be seen on aerial photographs as a series of roughly parallel and interconnected ditches or channels.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

An extensive post-medieval water meadow of a type known locally as a catchwork or catch meadow system is visible on aerial photographs as numerous water channels on the south bank of the East Lynn River, to the east of Leeford, Brendon parish. The water channels, also known locally as gutters, are centred on circa SS 7731 4812, but cover in total an area of almost 6 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 probably fed via a headmain which connected with a spring fed stream to the east, at circa SS 7747 4787, within Oldfield Copse. 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. Between Leeford Lane and the East Lyn River, at circa SS 7742 4817, the gutters appear less regular and may interconnect with naturally formed palae-channels. An alternative interpretation may be as a small area of floated watermeadow, but this is unlikely. Although not visibly associated with a particular farmstead, the headmain runs in close proximity to Waterlet Linhay, and may therefore function as an `integrated system', where the water is passed though the stock enclosure to pick up manure and distribute this fertaliser on the valley slopes. It is possible that the watermeadow is also connected with Longmeadow Linhay, at circa SS 771 481. Similar systems were operating elsewhere by the 17th Century but this water meadow is probably 19th century or later in origin, although, this and other water meadows in this area probably continued in use well into the 20th Century (see MMO1720, MMO1726, MMO1728, MMO1731 and MMO1753). [1-3] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [4]

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 089-090 (12 March 2007).
  • <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: #33084 ]
  • <4> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1461600, Extant 9 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7725 4811 (464m by 213m) Aerial Survey
Map sheet SS74NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (10)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NE127
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1461600

Record last edited

Dec 9 2021 2:30PM


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